The Lemaire Channel. Yes, there is an opening for a ship to squeeze through. Look closely. Can you see it? Day 3 in the Antarctic waters marked our midway point of the journey south of 60 degrees. Before turning north, just when I thought it couldn't get any more adventurous, we approached the Lemaire Channel. Early November was spring and normally the sea was still covered with ice. Our Russian Captain Mykola Tililyuk decided that enough sea ice had cleared to create a passage for us. He announced with great excitement that this was the earliest Lamaire Channel passage he had ever done, and he had been around these icy waters for many years and nautical miles.
These photos are all taken without zoom - just as my eyes would see it.
Approaching this narrow strait between steep mountains reminded me of Alice in Wonderland and the rabbit hole. I wanted to hold my breath as to make myself thinner to help the ship fit through the narrow. At the same time I was already breath-less by the scenery.
The only sound rippling through the quiet landscape:
Mountains rising on each side, shrinking us to sizes smaller than ever.
The ship gliding so slowly and smoothly through the passage suspended time. It might have taken 2 hours or 3, maybe even 4 or just one. I couldn't tell you. With the 10pm sunset the light wasn't giving us any indication and there was no rabbit standing with a pocket watch. I just remember clearly when we passed through the channel and were able to see “the other side.” We hadn’t arrived, we just entered another world.
Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end? "I wonder how many miles I've fallen by this time?" she said aloud. "I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think-" (for, you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort in her lessons in the school-room, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good practice to say it over) "-- yes that's about the right distance -- but then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I've got to?" (Alice had not the slightest idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but she thought they were nice grand words to say.) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
We spent the night at anchor in a quiet cove. The next morning, we headed back north through the narrow. The captain was concerned that winds would push the sea ice into the narrow passage way which was the only way back, short of circumnavigating Antarctica and turning up on the east coast of the continent which as you can imagine would take several weeks or months. Hearing the rumbling of the anchor chain rolling up brought relief for knowing that we will not be stuck here and at the same time I felt a twinge of sadness. I wanted to continue, go further, see what was behind the next iceberg and the next. "Look at me" "Look at me" "Look at me" each one of these icy constructs seemed to call. What did the most southern tip of this most southern continent look like? Would I ever feel that I had seen enough? What is enough anyway?