Thursday, May 5, 2011

Punta Arenas

Sitting in the Straits of Magellan, Punta Arenas is Chile’s most southerly city and the capital of the Magellanes region. It is also where the science vessels dock for the United States Antarctic Program and the starting point on our journey to the Drake Passage and Western Antarctic Peninsula, less than 900 miles directly south of here. To even get to Punta Arenas is no mean feat, taking over 28 hours of travel for most of our crew. Take a look at our investigators page and you’ll see we’re all congregating here not only from many locations around the US but abroad too. With a little luck, by the end of the day, all of our science crew will be here.

Getting here is just the start however. Over the next few days there is a lot of work to do before we can leave on Monday. All of the science gear for this cruise left Massachusetts in January, and many supplies and chemicals were directly shipped down here, so we need to make sure everything made it in one piece. The next few days will involve a lot of unpacking and setting up gear, finding all our supplies and making sure we have everything – once we leave the dock there is no turning back because something is missing. All the science party has to get kitted out with their ‘Extreme Cold Weather” gear (more on that later this week!) and make sure they have everything they need personally - it’s no fun going on a 5 week cruise to discover you forgot the shampoo!

Lets hope all those lists that were made many months ago covered all our bases!

By: Rhian

Weather – 41F, 40 knot winds, cloudy and rain

Flying over the Patagonian Andes en-route to Punta Arenas is probably one of the most spectacular flights on this planet. Luckily the weather turned clear in time for us to see some of the amazing mountains, glaciers and fjords in this region.

The ARV Nathaniel B. Palmer, our research vessel for the next 5 weeks, at the dock at Punta Arenas.

Laura Robinson (left) and Andrea Burke (right) next to the ARV Nathaniel B. Palmer.

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