Antarctica, Day 8: The Lemaire Channel, a Zodiac tour of Neko Harbour and my cabin

March 10, 2022 • 9:30 am

After dinner last night we haded through the Lemaire Channel, one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in this region. From Wikipedia:

Lemaire Channel is a strait off Antarctica, between Kyiv Peninsula in the mainland’s Graham Land and Booth Island. Nicknamed “Kodak Gap” by some, it is one of the top tourist destinations in Antarctica; steep cliffs hem in the iceberg-filled passage, which is 11 km long and just 1,600 metres wide at its narrowest point.

. . . The channel has since become a standard part of the itinerary for cruising in Antarctica; not only is it scenic, but the protected waters are usually as still as a lake, a rare occurrence in the storm-wracked southern seas, and the north-south traverse delivers vessels close to Petermann Island for landings. The principal difficulty is that icebergs may fill the channel, especially in early season, obliging a ship to backtrack and go around the outside of Booth Island to reach Petermann.

It was filled with icebergs, and we came close to the edges, but it was also stunning, though too dark to photograph well. Here’s a map (I’ve put an arrow by the channel), a video, and a few of my photos. Note that the channel runs between an island and the Antarctic mainland:

A video of the transit:

My few pictures don’t given an idea of the channel’s beauty. I suspect we’ll go through again, so we can look forward to more photos.

Here are just two entering the channel. Naturally the water is calm there, which makes for good reflections:

Heading toward Orne Harbor yesterday morning:

Heading toward Orne, we encountered heavy snow and wind. The snow was shoveled into piles on the deck:

Because of the fierce weather, no landing was possible at Orne, but we did enter Neko Harbor, moored, and got a 45-minute tour of the ice-laden harbor in Zodiacs.

Bonus photo: A fellow scientist on the ship took this picture of me on Brown Island; forgive me a bit of self-aggrandizement:

First, the map: Neko Harbor is a large inlet that is not only a bird refuge (and has gentoo penguins), but is often filled with icebergs from a nearby glacier, making it ideal for a Zodiac tour to get your up-close visit to the bergs.

Entering the Harbor:

Ice is everywhere:

The Zodiacs went out in pairs, staying close together so they could inform each other about the ice. Here’s on boat admiring a large iceberg:

Darwin’s beautiful “beryl-like blue” inside that berg:

A skua sitting on top of a berg. I call the “skua on the rocks”, and think that would be a good name for an Antarctic-themed drink:

Back to the ship:

Now that I’ve learned that there’s a free drink for passengers every evening between 5 and 6, I go get it at 5:30 before my usual dinner at 6. It’s lovely to have a libation as the ice goes floating by:

And dinner: King crab sandwich (“king crab roll in a rich bun with kincrab, dill mayonnaise and crispy vegetables”), served with fries and a beer (two drinks in one day!)

The best dessert: the Fredheim’s blueberry milkshake There are lots of elderly people on this trip, and it’s heartening to see many of them slurping down shakes in the Fredheim. They still have the desire for shakes, but rarely get to indulge it.

In lieu of exciting landscape and animal photos, I’ll show you my cabin, and a nice cabin it is!

Here’s the bed with my field clothes laid out before a landing:

The balcony from across the room. Yes, the wall is curved: that’s Scandinavian design, not a wonky photo.

The open closet is the “wet closet”, lined with rubber for drying boots (or laundry done in the bathroom_. The mini-bar is next to the door, but I don’t touch that except to put my water bottle in or to store pieces of fruit that they give you at lunch.

The “study” with the big-screen streaming t.v. It has all kinds of cable stations, but I turn it only only to see the daily briefings and to watch lectures (all lectures given in the auditorium are streamed to these t.v.s in the guest cabins.

The compact but efficient bathroom. There is always lots of hot water.

And the shower, which is really nice. I love the removable shower heads that allow you to easily rinse off any part of your body.

And so onto breakfast and then preparation for my morning talk.

45 thoughts on “Antarctica, Day 8: The Lemaire Channel, a Zodiac tour of Neko Harbour and my cabin

  1. I’m intrigued if the “night” sky offerings are of sufficient visibility to get some pics of unusual latitude – it being summer, and me not quite grasping the sunrise-to-sunset duration as judged by a weather app.

  2. Ha ha, “libation”. I only started following this blog about a month ago, but have already picked up a small army of useful words to add to my lexicon.

  3. Please do not take this the wrong way but the removable shower head is pretty much a normal thing in most showers although probably not in most hotels. The pictures are really great and the cabin is very nice.

          1. You must frequent hardware stores Home Depot or Menards to see them. More styles and cheaper than a bed, Bath and Beyond. I frequent hardware stores.

          2. If you go to a hotel without removable shower heads in its bathrooms, thats not a very good hotel.

      1. Our home has three bathrooms, three shower heads, none removable. House built 1960. U.S. when we traveled before covid, it seemed that the more upscale hotels and B&B’s had removables advertised as “European style shower”.

      2. Yes all our shower heads in the bathrooms at home(Ottawa, Canada) have removable shower heads and I think this has been standard in homes and hotels for several years.

      3. Neither of mine (in New Orleans) are removable.

        I am so glad you took photos of the cabin. You take photos of all the things people really want to see on trips.

      4. My old bathroom probably hasn’t been updated since the ’80s; no removable shower head. However various relatives houses we’ve remodeled have updated 5 showers since the ’90s and they all got removable heads.

        So I’m guessing it’s mostly a function of when your bathroom was last updated, with maybe a secondary component of the function being how much of a miser one is.

      5. Removable but a retrofit.
        In older 2-star European hotels in the small towns beloved of bicycle tourists, there is often a small bathtub that is not enclosed (or partially enclosed with hinged glass panels installed later.) A fixed showerhead that you could stand under would splash water all over the bathroom. So the idea is you sit in the tub and bring the showerhead down to spray yourself gently with well-aimed douching and lavaging. And yes you could use it as a bidet. Newer or renovated hotels dispense with the bathtub and go with only an enclosed shower stall but the removable head remains, exactly as Jerry’s suite does.

        1. Our bathroom (Germany, 1970s) is still of the bathtub plus movable showerhead type. I squat for showering, which is also best for the Bidet function. The newer preference shower only is preferred partly because it is better accessible to the handicapped/elderly, as there is no barrier to step over. They also need removable heads in case they shower sitting on a shower chair.

      6. Um… sorry, but removable shower heads been around for a very long time. (10 years, my guess when I did mine.) The good news is- the newer one are even better, with wider coverage area, and higher pressure.

        Treat yourself when you get back, just screw off and the new one on.

        1. Yeah. I live in the US and have had handheld showers in my homes since at least the 80s. Thinking about it more, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them were installed by me. Whenever I’d replace a shower head, because it was worn out or I just didn’t like it, I’d replace it with a handheld. They were always available at the store, right next to the regular shower heads.

          They were common in Germany in the 70s when lived there too.

      7. Mine is removable and has been since the place was built, which I think was in the 1970s. You didn’t comment when you stayed!

        1. I much prefer removable ones too. I’d say they’re about half and half in NZ. Newer homes all have them.

      8. Mine is both removable and rotatable. The latter allows for different setting – jet, drizzle, monsoon etc – which is pretty invigorating first thing 🙂

    1. I use “removable” ( really, hosed/mounted )… home and a hotel or two…

      I installed them myself. “Easy” for an aplumber (not a plumber),… but any doubts, I don’t know… there’s risk of bending the fixture…

      Nobody heard this from me, but most important I’d say counter torque the fixture so it isn’t bent as the old one is removed… think two wrenches at the same time… if in doubt call a plumber…

      1. I had no idea -& I see mine unscrew But I would assume that was for cleaning it – Norwich water is super hard. We live & learn, but none the wiser grow!

  4. What kinds of lectures do you see from the other travelling experts like yourself? Do you have the opportunity to meet with the others as a group?

  5. I’m curious whether you get questions following your formal remarks or in passing as you move around the ship. And I am also interested in other lecturers (topics) on this trip and whether you attend.

    1. Yes, but not many questions, sometimes six sometimes none. I’d MUCH rather lecture to a live audience. There are several people giving lectures and I listen to at least one a day. I’m about to hear a talk on Shackleton by the Hurtigruten historian, for instance.

  6. “Skua on the rocks”… let’s see, I’ll apply that appellation to a favorite drink, the Jaeger Fizz (I’m intentionally not spelling with the ä.) Ask the bartender to make this for your cocktail.
    ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
    ¾ ounce Jägermeister
    1 ounce London dry gin
    4 ounces club soda
    Lemon slice and mint sprig for garnish
    In a cocktail shaker, add ice, lemon juice, Jägermeister, and gin.
    Shake to chill.
    Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.
    Add club soda.
    Stir to mix.
    Garnish with lemon slice and mint sprig.

    1. Sounds worth a try. I’m that seemingly rare sole that actually likes Jägermeister. It’s not a favorite or anything, but I think it’s fine. Never heard of it in a cocktail though.

      1. I associate Jägermeister with skiing. We would hit the slopes after a shot in the lodge. Warmed up the belly and loosened up the limbs. 😃 I haven’t skied in years, and likewise I haven’t had Jägermeister in years. Like you, I’d give Stephen’s drink a try.

        You ever try Goldschlager? A little too cloying for me, but it seems people who like Jägermeister like Goldschlager.

        1. Not a fan of Goldschlager at all. Like your story my favorite schnapps is associated with skiing. I can’t remember the name of it anymore, I haven’t been skiing in a long time either, but it was an excellent German brand of apple schnapps. I’d often keep a little glass flask of it on me while skiing. Nothing like a swig of 100 proof apple schnapps on a sunny -10 day on the slopes of Arapahoe Basin.

          1. I did most of my skiing in the Sierras, but I had a 2-week vacation skiing in Colorado. Didn’t hit Arapahoe Basin, but did Aspen, Vail, Copper Mountain and a few other mountains. The best skiing snow I’ve ever encountered. Up here in WA, the snow is heavy, even heavier than in the Sierras. Skiing in CO is a dream. Oh, to be young again. 🙂

            1. Most of my skiing was in the Colorado Rockies. I’d have loved to ski around the world, but I think the Rockies are hard to beat. Near the top for snow, and just so many really good slopes. For some years I’d go for a 2 week ski trip, stay in Colorado Springs or the Denver area, ski for 10 or 12 days, each day at a different place.

              I’m not sure my body could take it any more, but it was one of the most fun things I used to do. Actually, I know my body couldn’t take it. I’d blow out a knee for sure, unless I took it easy, which I probably couldn’t maintain.

  7. Renovated and added to house 16 years ago, three removable shower heads by Kohler. Two corner units with curved doors; big wheel chair roll in shower off master BR with hinged chair and grab bars. Two octogenarians ageing in place in Kailua, Oahu.

    1. And with all the wonderful settings, I presume? Drizzle, hi or low pressure, intermittent, rain, etc.

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