Friday, April 12, 2013

Setting Sail

The Araon as seen from a fish-eye lense at the dock in Punta  Arenas
We have now set sail! We began our journey in Punta Arenas, Chile (the very southern tip of Chile) by first loading all of our scientific gear onto the ship, the Korean ice-breaker the Araon (in Korean meaning "the whole sea"). This is a very complicated process because we have to load all of our scientific equipment, as well as all the food, clothes and safety equipment needed for one month at sea in Antarctica. We managed to do all of this in only 6 hours because the ship arrived late and we were trying to remain on schedule. This was very busy indeed! Loading the ship involves using cranes to bring the heavy equipment on board, and then everyone pitches in to help put everything in its place, and also to tie it down before we set sail. We have to "secure" everything because as the ship starts moving, all of the equipment and supplies start moving too.

Leaving the dock in Punta Arenas heading for the fuel dock.
The Araon is the largest ship I have ever been on, it is more than 100 m (about 300 feet) long and 20 m (about 60 feet) wide. The Korean scientists on board gave us a tour once we arrived, and they showed us some of the amazing features of this boat; it has spacious bedrooms with couches and TVs in each one, the toilets have about 10 buttons on each one (including one that plays music and heats the seat!), there is a sauna, several lounges for movies and games, and a karaoke room (!).

We first went to a fuel dock to get some fuel for the journey, which took about 2 hours of travel and then we were docked there for 9 hours. Last night around 10 pm we left the fuel dock, and are making our way through the Straits of Magellan toward the Atlantic Ocean. It will take us another day to reach the very southern tip of Chile, and then we will cross the Drake Passage (the part of the ocean between southern Chile and Antarctica, across the Southern Ocean) to Antarctica. We will be going to the western Antarctic Peninsula, and we will be sampling very close to shore because some scientists on board will be flying helicopters to the land in order to collect ice and rocks. More on the science on board another day! Wish us a safe passage across the Drake, known as one of the roughest seas to cross in the world. Lucky for us, the forecast looks good!
Our proposed cruise track from Punta Arenas, Chile to Antarctica.



  1. Thanks for all of your cool blogging Randie! Keep it up! We love to read about it and see the neat photos!

  2. I am so jealous of your amenities on the Korean ship. Leaving Japan was a rough transition as I'd gotten used to all the buttons and features on the toilets there. So civilized.