Towards Paulet Island, Antarctic Peninsula, January 13, 2003

We start the day with the intention to follow a number of lectures. So we go to the lecture room early to get ourselves a good seat. Outside a thick fog covers everything except for the occasional berg that is close enough to stand out in the mist. A sudden strong vibration followed by a quick reduction in speed makes us wonder what has happened. At once the bridge seems far more interesting than the lecture room.

The outside world is a uniform gray. It's not clear where the sky meets the water. A glance at the radar, however, shows that were surrounded by dozens of icebergs. Part of the bridge is roped off now to allow the captain, the navigator and a third person to move without having to push away curious tourists. Our speed has dropped to about 4 knots while our navigator attempts to see though the fog with his binoculars.

For several hours at a stretch we're creeping forward. Our expected arrival time at Paulet Island changes from 12.30 hours to 13.30 hours to 15.00 hours. Around lunchtime the fog seems to lift a little bit. A pale sun appears in the sky. It's damp cold. The fog lifts even further and the first patches of blue become visible in the sky. Suddenly the fog lifts completely and we enter into a spectacular world. Hundreds of icebergs around us in all kinds of sizes! And the sea is as flat as a mirror!

We sail at full speed again. Huge tabulars on the left, floes with penguins on the right, bergy bits and a clear blue sky! The scenery is breathtaking. In the distance the volcanic cone of Paulet appears above the horizon. Finally at 17.30 hours we're there. Dinner can wait! Doug decides that we will have a landing first. Eight zodiacs quickly ferry everything to the shore.

This is the largest colony of Adélies in the world. Adélies are everywhere! While a steady line of Adélies is coming ashore others go into the opposite direction. Porpoising Adélies break the surface of the sea while behind us they're feeding their young, are courting or doing other things that penguins do. Although the ground is pink from guano, the smell is not that bad.

The low hanging sun paints the surroundings with gold. Unfortunately we cannot stay to long ashore and by eight o'clock the last zodiac ferries us back to the Polar Star. Half an hour later dinner is served while Paulet is left to the Adélies again. With a landing scheduled around 4.30 AM we turn in early.