Sir Ernst Expedition. Wednesday 2nd February.


The forecasted wind that made us hurry to cross Drake Passage is back in force. It’s coming from the end of the cove. Moored downwind we are totally protected and can disembark to explore the base and its surroundings.

The main building is closed and draught-proofed. Snow covers part of the roof and most of the windows. On the main door, a sign informs visitors that an emergency hut is available to shelter anyone in difficulty. Indeed, the door is not locked, and we found a large quantity of all sorts of provisions, water of course, tins of food, milk chocolate, etc. A sign asks people to let the Argentine Navy know what they have consumed. There’s a dormitory, blankets, fully equipped kitchen and gas reserve, everything required to survive a storm.

A walk revealed the landscape. The Melchior archipelago of rounded islands is covered in a layer of snow and ice dozens of metres thick. In places, crevasses reveal their beautiful bluish depths.

Around us some chinstrap and gentoo penguins, sea lions and seals didn’t seem too perturbed by our presence. We took care not to encroach on their territory. Some approached us out of curiosity and we all took photos.