To reach the southern most point of our Antarctica voyage, the Ukrainian Vernadsky Station, we need to sail through the Lemaire Channel.
To reach the southern most point of our Antarctica voyage, the Ukrainian Vernadsky Station, we need to sail through the Lemaire Channel. This narrow passage, with steep cliffs and glaciers on both sides, is oftenblocked by ice. After rounding Umar’s Tits, two dominant black mountain peaks early morning, the Lemaire Channel comes in view. We see ice in the passage, lots of ice. But as we got closer there seemed to be a way through. For a while, Europa imitates a Russian icebreaker, as we crush drifting brass-ice in the Lemaire Channel. Every now and then Europa shivers, as we hit huge chunks of ice. The scenery is fantastic, with some low clouds in middle of channel. For a short while the sun breaks through and two Minke whales accompany us. With ice-watchers high up in
the foremast we manage to sail the Lemaire Channel.
But we are not there yet. Ahead is more ice, most of it brass-ice dotted with large blocks of hard transparent-blue glacier ice. Several leopard seals use the drifting ice to rest, and penguins seem to be unconcerned, as they swim close to one of the top predators of the Antarctic waters. The two Minke whale show more interest in the “old lady” and take a closer look.
With only a few miles to go to Vernadsky, the brass ice get more and more packed. The researchers are very eager to welcome some visitors and from the top of a hill, one of them guides us through the last bit of ice. With the research station in view, we have one more obstacle to take: One massive iceberg and a large plate of ice, clamed by a Weddel seal, have to be moved. Europa smokes, her engines growl, and the whole scene comes to a stand still. The Weddel seal lifts its head. But suddenly the ice-berg moves and the ice plates starts to rotate. We are through, thanks to the wonderful job of both Captain Klaas and Mate Gijs. There we are, in open water in front of Vernadsky Station.
We land on Winter Island for a gentle walk to Wordie House, the old British research Station, were we have our first close encounter with a Adele Penguin. The house is beautifully restored. But most of us are more interested in Vernadsky with their famous Vodka bar. The twelve researchers were very happy with our visit and after a brief introduction to their laboratories and offices, the bar became the place to be. The locally brewed vodka was very tasty and resulted in two of our lovely guests making a gymnastic split on the bar.