Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy new year from the Nathanial B. Palmer research vessel! It's been
a few days, I know… I haven't been avoiding you, it's just that life on
a boat with 24 hours of sun keeps a guy busy.
Where to begin? I want to start with today, but I feel like today was
full of crazy surprises that I am not quite ready to reveal. So first
off, I am officially off of all my motion sickness meds! Granted, we
have had calm sailing the last couple days but I am beginning to enjoy
the gentle roll of the ship.
We made it through the Drake Passage and I got my first glimpse of the
Antarctic Peninsula 2 nights ago. That was also the last night I saw the
sun set. If only I had stayed up another hour I could have watched it
rise again. While being able to say I went through the Drake is pretty
cool, our passage was so uneventful that seeing Antarctica after days of
nothing but endless ocean was extremely exciting. I stayed up way to
late taking pictures and finally forced myself to go to bed.
If I thought islands on the horizon were cool, imagine me waking up the
next day, looking outside and seeing icebergs and mountains in the not
so distant distance.
On top of all of that we had our fourth SOCCOM float launch. The
weather was perfect, sunny, calm seas and almost no wind. What does that
mean? TIME TO FLY THE DRONE! I have was a bit concerned that we may not
see favorable conditions to fly, but here they were. The Captain and I
have been talking drones for days and he wanted to see it fly as well.
So we went out to the Heli-deck (after wandering the ship trying to find
someplace I could calibrate the compass that wouldn't suffer from
magnetic interference…Can't imagine why that would happen on a massive

ship). After a short test flight to make sure that interference wasn't
going to make the drone go haywire, it was time to fly! As my first
flight off the ship I kept the flight short, simple and close enough to
bring it back quickly.
From all of the issues that I have read about flying drones this far
south, it performed flawlessly. The drone was seeing up to 20 GPS
satellites so there was no need to fly manually. My big concern was
battery temperature, but I am keeping the batteries inside until I need
them so they never have time to get cold.
Ok, so mountains in the distance, sweet. Then yesterday one of the
research groups needed to move close to shore into the sea ice to hunt
down some ice loving bateria. This was not part of the original plan,
but it did mean that we had to go through a lot of sea ice and past some
enormous icebergs. It also meant more drone action! Feeling a bit more
comfortable and a little less nervous on the sticks, I took the drone a
bit further out and even did a partial flyby of an iceberg that made our
ship look small.

I am out on the decks a lot right now. The scenery is some of the most
spectacular I have ever seen. Every time I go to sit down and work at my
computer, or contemplate going to bed, I look out my porthole window and
can't resist getting back out there.
So you all have been patient and I commend you for that. Now let's get
to the exciting stuff! Today it was necessary for the ship to make an
unplanned visit to the British Antarctic base of Rothera. With the boat
going to port, we would have about 4 hours to get off the boat and
explore the base. I didn't think I was going to set foot on Antarctica
for another 20 days, yet here we are!
Exciting, but it gets better. The Brits were extremely welcoming,
Photo by Pablo Cohn
offering to give us tours of their base, the surrounding shoreline or
even a trip up onto the massive glacier right next to their base (Which
they use as a ski hill). All of these options ended with a tea party.
But there was something else they offered as well. The base was holding
a New Year's Eve 10k running race on their runway and anyone on the boat
was invited to participate. I love running, but for various reasons I
haven't been able to run much over the last 2 months. But being able to
say I ran a race on Antarctica? I would have done it even if it was a
half marathon (though I doubt that would have turned out well).
It was settled. First, I would venture up the Glacier to have an
Photo by Pablo Cohn
incredible view of the frozen bay below and the many mountainous islands
in the distance. Then at 4pm, we raced.
No dear reader, I did not win the race. Those guys and gals have been
training for this for months and were incredible fast. What else are you
going to do every day when you are on Antarctica for a year?
I ran pretty well for a guy who hasn't run in 2 months, and I can say
that I did set a new personal record for running the 10k… while on
Tonight we celebrate the New Year. I wish I could be with my family
tonight I miss all of them with every bit of my heart. But here I am, on
this adventure like no other. I will go into this New Year determined
to make the most of all of these moments and to never take any of this
for granted.
See you all next year.


  1. Happy New Year Ted. We saw June and Aja today. Saw a quick preview of just a couple pics that Aja has. SO excited for a slide show on your return! Can't wait to hear all your stories!! Very inspiring

  2. Incredible, Beautiful, and more... Thanks for sharing all the pics and words.