On New Year’s Day we finished crossing the Drake Passage, saw our first icebergs, and made a quick side trip to a place called Livingston Island. We were taking food, supplies, and one person to a small group of five Americans and one Chilean who are studying the island’s seals and penguins. They met us at the beach, and station manager Mike Goebel greeted us wearing a Santa hat and carrying a candy-striped ski pole. They’d been living on the island for two months, since the Gould dropped them off on Halloween. Their neighbors are the Antarctic wildlife: fur seals, chinstrap and gentoo penguins, a few other seabirds, and the whales blowing just offshore.
Cape Shireff on Livingston Island is at about 62 degrees 22 minutes south latitude, 60 degrees 50 minutes west latitude—have a look for it on a world map. When we left the island we set our course for Palmer Station, which is at about 64 degrees south, 64 degrees west. We’re sailing through a narrow channel between steep, snow-laden mountains. Icebergs are all around us, and chinstrap penguins are standing on them. We’ll be at Palmer in about a day—depending on how many humpbacks the whale biologists find along the way for us to study.