Puenta Arenas (Fri., 5/7/10) – Beginnings
by Andy Read -- May 7th, 2010
Where the heck are those GPS cables, anyway?
Most of us arrived in Punta Arenas yesterday, tired after a long journey to the bottom of the world from various points in the U.S. Despite multiple connections, delays and a cancelled flight or two, we all managed to converge on this remote town at the tip of South America. The only casualty was Meagan’s luggage, which disappeared somewhere between New Bern and Punta Arenas.
- The crew hard at work in the Shackleton Bar at the Hotel Noguiera in Punta Arenas
Today was a frenetic rush to unpack equipment, get outfitted with cold weather gear, explore the R/V Nathaniel Palmer and purchase last-minute necessities, such as chocolate, dried fruits and nuts (it’s surprising what you crave during a long cruise).We are now stocked up and well equipped for our five-week Antarctic field season.
One of the highlights for the intrepid visual survey team was our first trip up to the conning tower, where we will be conducting our whale surveys. It takes four flights of stairs and three vertical ladders to reach our little observation post, some eighty feet above sea level. I’m not usually bothered by heights, but it was a little disconcerting to step out on the narrow catwalk outside the tower and look eighty feet down to the water. Needless to say, we will only be surveying when conditions are excellent.
- Rubbing the toe for fair seas
We are due to sail tomorrow, so our thoughts are turning to the Drake Passage and the conditions we’ll experience during the crossing. Several of us rubbed the toe of Magellan’s statue tonight to give us good luck in the Drake. Based on the weather forecast, we may need it.
Tonight is our first night aboard the Palmer. We are unpacking our personal gear, settling in to our cabins and finding our way around the ship. (It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I have been continually lost all day). Everyone is excited and eager to begin our adventure. And Meagan is particularly happy that her bag arrived tonight.