For the first time since days there is a little bit of wind! While we enter Neumayer Channel, we start taking up sails. The Channel is about 26 km long and generally about 2.4 km wide, and separates Anvers Island from Wiencke Island and Doumer Island in the Palmer Archipelago. There is enough wind to go through the channel under sail. After days on engine, the silence is very present, and everyone is out on deck enjoying the majestic cliffs, steep descending glaciers and the icebergs all around. Later in the morning Benja gives a talk about whales. He tells about the different types, and about his research. He also shows us the different humpback whales that he has taken samples of – their very distinctive dorsal fins and flukes. In this way, they no longer are a group of whales, but become individuals.
Around 2 we enter Arthur Harbour – filled with plenty tall, curiously shaped icebergs. The glacier that surrounds most of the bay is calving regularly – on warm days like this her activity increases. In this bay is the small American Palmer research station, which accommodates 44 people at it´s most. The blue buildings are built on rocks very close to the glaciers. After lunch we land in two groups and are shown around through the station. Meanwhile several of the station staff come on board and get a tour on our Europa. They are at least as excited as we are – to see new people, and of course to see the ship. Many conversations are started, everyone is curious about the other and their stories. We tell about the Drake, rough and wild, the water sweeping over deck for three days in a row, storms and sails tearing, – while they tell about their research, the dark winters, the glacier that they call their backyard and off course, their famous hot tub. It is not hard to imagine spending some time here – just as many of the researchers and support staff think the same about the Europa.
At 4 a large, extremely orange boat, I don´t think you can call this a ship – comes in. It is a supply vessel, bringing stores and equipment, as well as new staff. They will set out on a month long research journey to the South. Since they need to unload and all staff is involved, we quickly have to make way and return to our ship. Once back on board we have time to just enjoy. It is early in the evening, the weather conditions are unique as always, and since we will be anchored here for the night, we almost have a sense of weekend. It is great to spent some time in the same place, see the light change, the glacier calf and observe the crab eater seals laying in the sun on one of the icebergs.
The day ends with a spectacular sunset around midnight – reflected by the glacier. Again, it seems impossible to leave the deck and find our bunks. We keep looking at the glacier, she is glowing, almost pulsating pink and red, her shadows still intensely blue.