Day #4: Preparations for my final leg of travel to Palmer Station, Antarctica were in full swing. I felt relieved that I had made it this far (7,333 miles!) with no major delays or complications. However, I still had the most daunting part of the trip still ahead of me: the voyage across the Southern Ocean to reach our final polar destination.
As a port city on the southernmost tip of Chile, Punta Arenas is a prime location for accessing Antarctica. Known as “the Antarctic Gate,” a number of organizations, including the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), rely on the town’s ocean access to support their operations.
The USAP brings two of its ice-capable research vessels, the Nathaniel B. Palmer (NBP) and the Laurence M. Gould (LMG), to Punta Arenas. From there they carry out research cruises and transport people and cargo to and from Palmer Station, the U.S. research base on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Earlier in the day, I got fitted for extreme weather clothes (EWC) and accessories at the pier’s warehouse. This gear is provided by the National Science Foundation to prepare participants for the Antarctic climate. Since Palmer Station is a mild region of the Antarctic, I chose a variety of waterproof layers to keep warm and dry for the Antarctic fieldwork ahead.
Later in the evening, I moved on board the final mode of transportation: an icebreaker research vessel. The Laurence M. Gould (LMG) is a 240 foot ship that works primarily in the Antarctic Peninsula region, transporting support and science personnel and cargo to and from Palmer Station and supporting research throughout the peninsula area. Check out these ship highlights below!