Week 1

Greetings from the Expedition Team

After a long series of flights starting Tuesday 2/8 from Syracuse, N.Y. to Atlanta, G.A., overnight to Santiago Chile then on to Puerto Montt we finally arrived in Punta Arenas Chile around 5 p.m. on Wednesday. After dinner we enjoyed the warm late summer evening, the trees with green leaves and the green grass.
Thursday we moved onto the ship and picked up our ECW (extreme cold weather) clothing. The balance of the day was spent assisting the crew load cargo and unpacking the crates of lab supplies and equipment shipped down earlier this year. Thursday night was our first night spent on the ship.
By 2 p.m. Friday everyone was on board for Chilean customs to clear the ship and just after 4 p.m. we cast off the lines and sailed from the main pier into the Straits of Magellan.
We sailed under clear skies, light winds and beautiful sunshine. Saturday has been a cloudy/foggy day.  Everyone is busy with a multitude of small tasks that must be accomplished in the relatively smooth water along the east coast of Argentina before we head south of Cabo de Hornos and enter the Drake Passage.  The Drake crossing can be notoriously rough and all equipment and supplies must be secured before we head across.

group photo

Student participants on the Hamilton College Antarctica 2005 Expedition gathered on the back upper deck of the R/V Laurence M Gould as we headed out to sea.

Front row: Aron Buffen, Colgate University; Gemma Kirkwood, Hamilton College; Stephanie Dulgar, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; James Smith, University of Durham, UK.

Back row: Mike Cacciapuoti, Montclair State University; Ashley Hatfield, Hamilton College; Kate McMullen, co-director of Antarctic Program at Hamilton College; Heather Schrum, Hamilton College; Rachel Perez, Montclair State University; Veronica Willmott, Universidad de Barcelona; Heather Tompkins, Queens University in Kingston, Ontario; Paul Dixon, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Traversing the Drake Passage

(click on map to enlarge)

21:26 GMT
56.12 S
63.25 W
6 C
winds 30 knots
clear skies

We are still on the northern edge of the Drake Passage. Just after midnight the seas turned rough driven by winds gusting to 50 knots and seas are occasionally breaking over the back of the ship. The rough seas caused the captain  to close all decks, and a number of items on deck broke their securing chains.

Currently we are running a racetrack pattern waiting for the weather to ease. We have made 30 miles of forward progress over the past ten hours. We are unable to do any work 1) because we are still within the Chilean 200-mile limit and 2) everyone is having trouble staying on their feet.

Unfortunately the rough seas have also slowed our progress south, covering around 30 miles over the past 10 hours.

Weather monitors show the barometric pressure is on the rise, so winds may diminish later and the seas smooth out.

RV L.M. Gould

22:40 GMT
59 14' S
60 27' W
3.9 C
18 Kt winds
overcast with rolling seas

The Gould is approximately 1/2 way across the Drake Passage and making good time in much calmer seas than yesterday.  We are approximately 210 nautical miles from the South Shetland Islands and will pass on the east side of King George Island and into the Antarctic Sound as we pass by the northern end of the Palmer Peninsula and into the Weddell Sea.

The rough seas of yesterday have moderated and our speed has increased. The captain opened the upper decks earlier today and we were able to go outside in groups of two to take in fresh air, watch the never ending waves and the few sea birds that have passed by the ship.

We have begun sampling seawater for chemistry and phytoplankton concentrations, data that we routinely collect on our crossings once we are outside the 200 mile limit of Chile and Argentina.

The night shift crew has been busy staying up late and getting up late to shift their bodies over to the midnight to noon work schedule.

All of us are anxiously awaiting our first sighting of land as we pass the King George Island and our first icebergs of the season.

Past King George Island and Crossing the Bransfield Strait

23:00 GMT
62 30' S
57 12' W
1.7 C
high thin clouds
38 knot winds
large rolling westerly swells

We have moved out of the Drake Passage, sailed past a fog-shrouded King George Island and are now crossing the Bransfield Strait. The temperature has been dropping rapidly this afternoon, and icebergs and fragments are starting to be seen in the waters around the ship. A few large tabular bergs have been seen from a distance, with smaller berg fragments closer to the ship. As the sun begins to set, extra crew are on the bridge to watch for ice as we proceed through the night. The large bergs show up well on the radar, but small growlers that lie just at the waters surface are lost in the clutter of sea noise on the radar.

Around 6 a.m. tomorrow morning we should be passing through a narrow channel between the Tabarian Peninsula and Jonassen and Anderson Islands at the northern tip of the Palmer Peninsula. Should be spectacular scenery if the clear weather holds.  From there, we head southwest into the Prince Gustav Channel, passing on the west side of James Ross Island.  If ice conditions hold, we should be at Robertson Island by late tomorrow afternoon.

Robertson Island marks the northern extent of the former Larsen B ice shelf and currently seems to hold the key to our getting into the Larsen B area.  A finger of sea ice moving out of the Weddell Sea has been periodically touching and retreating from Robertson Island, essentially closing and opening a door into the Larsen B area. Recent satellite radar and visual wavelength images show the door to currently be open and we hope to get in and begin gathering data without delay.

Small iceberg seen late in the afternoon as we began our crossing of the Bransfield Strait. First ice of the cruise, lots more to come.

-commentary provided by Dave Tewksbury, geology technician at Hamilton College

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Week 2
Week 3
Week 4