Base Argentina Esperanza
Trip Start Dec 26, 2006
17Trip End Jan 18, 2007
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"At dawn- somewhat brighter than the night- the Andrea was at Gourdin Island with 38 knot winds, which precluded any landing. At 0715 hours, the ship slipped away through the windswept, salty spray towards Brown Bluff on the south side of the Antarctic Sound.
At Brown Bluff the winds were within tolerable limits ( 20 knots) and by 0930 hours Zodiac operations were in full swing. Brown Bluff, is a water-laid deposit produced by a sub-glacial volcanic eruption similar to eruptions in Iceland beneath the Vatnajokull Ice Cap. Pillow lavas at this site are evidence of deposition in water. The tide was low and the pebble covered beach was clean and relatively easy to walk on. There were both Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins taking care of their chicks
We arrived at Hope Bay at 1300 hours and went ashore just before 1400 hours. Esperanza is the largest base in the peninsula. About sixty people 'winter over' each year, with their respective families. The first birth in Antarctica occurred at this base in 1978 and since then another 12 babies entered the world in this remote location. Many marriage stake place here as well.
At the Base we were divided into three groups. We visited the historic hut where the three men from the ship Antarctic wintered in 1902, trying to contact Nordenskjold in his winder quarter at Snow Hill Island. We then proceeded to the Adelie penguin rookery, which is one of the largest one in the peninsula and had about 300,000 of pairs. We climbed up to the graveyard, which had several symbolic crosses to commemorate the Argentineans that lost their lives in Antarctica.
One of the graves was very special for the Base Commander, since it had his father-in-law's ashes buried here. We also visited the radio station, which broadcasts in short wave all over the world, the library and the small school for the 22 children that will arrive this coming March with their families. We learned that families do not need to cook for themselves on work days, just Sundays. They get the same food that is prepared for all the base personnel by the cooks that work in the Casino. We also visited the small chapel and finally, we spent a good time having coffee, tea, and fried cookies ("tortas fritas") in the Casino. We were able to purchase some souvenir items and to mail post cards. The personnel were very hospitable and this made it a very pleasant visit.
All passengers were back onboard by 1715 hours and the Andrea was full way for the Bransfield and our next morning planned landing at Half Moon Island at 1900hours."