19th December 2008

Today we crossed the magic line into the Antarctic Circle at:
66 35s and 177 30e.

Little by little we’re working our way south toward one of our favorite fishing spots, in past seasons we have done quite well there, obviously I can’t tell you exactly where it is, it’s a secret. One of the best things about this area is the easy ground for our lines to settle on, unlike areas to the north where the rocky bottom is a problem and stuck lines, huge tangles and strong currents can be dangerous for the crew in the hauling room.

During the last 10 days we’re seeing more and more sea ice and ice bergs as we move south. On the last count we had 10 large ice bergs on our 12mile radar range and 7/10th first year sea ice. To navigate in 7/10th sea ice it’s a bit like following a gigantic maze that zig zags for hundreds of miles with just as many dead ends. When we come to the end of a lead (the term used for an open track in the ice) we must turn back and look for another track or lead that will hopefully takes us in the general direction that we need to go. Sometimes this process takes days or even weeks depending on the season and how the ice is thawing, or isn’t with some seasons.

Heavy pack too thick for us to go further

Heavy pack too thick for us to go further

Many factors govern the rate that sea ice thaws. The obvious ones are, water temp, air temp, (sunny days are good but few and far between) wind strength and direction, sea swell, tidal movement and the east setting Southern Ocean Currents all combine to break the ice up. We receive the most up to date satellite images daily from our support team back home and we can also access the National Ice Center web sight for more information if needed. Check it out at

http://www.natice.noaa.gov/products/antarctic/index.htm

then click on Ross Sea Central and you can sort of see where we are on the big picture.

For now we are just stooging along, setting the odd line in clear water as we find it while we wait for the ice condition to open up and allow easy access into the Ross Sea.

The leads are small now but growing fast

The leads are small now but growing fast

The photos were taken during the last few days. One shows a small lead toward the south and the other is ice too thick for us to enter.

Rgds: John B.

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