Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF scientists catch a break on ocean crossing, arrive in Antarctica ahead of storm

We made it.

The journey from Chile to Antarctica began with a 12-hour trip through the protected waters of the Strait of Magellan, just like the old tall ships did. We popped out into the Atlantic just north of Cape Horn, the tip of South America.

A few hours later, we entered the Drake Passage, the body of water between the cape and the Antarctic peninsula.

In the Drake, we would be at the full mercy of wind and wave -- I've experienced 45-foot seas in previous crossings -- but this time we were spared.

After a rough start -- 40-knot winds and 25-foot seas -- a high-pressure weather system moved in and flattened the swells.

In a calmer ocean, we made good time. Our vessel, the Nathaniel B. Palmer, is an icebreaker, and it can use more than one engine on each propeller to give it the extra power it needs to get through ice. In the open sea, the extra power means speed.

We were hurrying to get into the protected waters near the Antarctic Peninsula ahead of an approaching storm.

Each crossing has its own personality, but there are always spectacular oceanic birds for company.

The wandering albatross and the giant petrel, with wingspans up to 8 feet, flew above the waves nearby, sometimes lagging behind, sometimes going around the boat in an an effortless circle. They glided just inches over the water, so close you think they might crash into a swell, then they soared just over the top and into the next trough -- truly masters of the air.

We beat the bad weather to Palmer Station, where we were protected on one side by the Antarctic peninsula itself and on the other by the many islands that lie to its west. We picked up some cruise essentials and dropped off some cargo for the base.

Our boat is too large to dock there, so we had to ferry people and cargo using zodiac-style inflatable boats. No visit this time – it will have to wait for our return trip, something to look forward to as we head offshore to begin our science operations.

USF scientists catch a break on ocean crossing, arrive in Antarctica ahead of storm 03/22/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 22, 2010 11:59am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Equifax CEO Richard Smith steps down amid hacking scandal

    Personal Finance

    The chief executive of Equifax, the troubled credit reporting agency that suffered a massive data breach that affected as many as 143 million people, will retire, effective Tuesday, according to a statement by the company.

    Richard Smith, chief executive of Equifax, the troubled credit reporting agency that suffered a massive data breach that affected as many as 143 million people, will reportedly retire effective Tuesday.
[File photo: Joey Ivansco/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP]
  2. NCAA coaches among 10 charged with fraud and corruption

    College

    NEW YORK — Four college basketball coaches were among those facing federal charges Tuesday in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA, authorities said.

    These file photos show, assistant basketball coaches Tony Bland, left, Chuck Person, center, and Lamont Richardson.  The three, along with assistant coach Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State, were identified in court papers and are among 10 people facing federal charges in Manhattan federal court, Tuesday in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA, authorities said. [AP photo]
  3. Pinellas: It could cost $15 million to remove storm debris

    Blogs

    CLEARWATER--The removal and processing of debris from Hurricane Irma in unincorporated Pinellas County could cost an estimated $15 million.

    Pinellas County estimates it will take at least four weeks to remove debris from unincorporated areas.
  4. Bass Pro acquires Cabela's for $4 billion

    Retail

    Bass Pro Shops has acquired competitor Cabela's for a reported $4 billion. Bass Pro indicated it is seeking to appeal to all "outdoor enthusiasts" with the move, roping in hunting customers from Cabela's.

    Bass Pro Shops acquired Cabela's for $4 billion, Bass Pro announced Tuesday. | [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  5. Donald Trump calls for NFL to set a rule forbidding players from kneeling during national anthem

    Bucs

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is up and tweeting, and his target is the NFL.

    The Dallas Cowboys, led by owner Jerry Jones, center, take a knee prior to the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday in Glendale, Ariz. [AP photo]