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April 6th, 2014 - Punta Arenas, Chile

Our First Day in Punta Arenas

by Andrew Klein

Andrew's head

Today was our first full day in Punta Arenas (or PA for abbreviation). It was a very busy one. At 9:00 AM we had clothing issue. Steve and I have been through clothing issue many times in Christchurch, New Zealand on our way to McMurdo Station, but this is a bit different. There are fewer people and the space is much smaller. The United States Antarctic Program (USAP) has a warehouse in PA that it uses for storage and activities.

Punta Arenas Sign
Punta Arenas is a jumping off point for Antarctica

Well, people showed up and tried on our extreme cold weather gear. It was a bit weird not having the big red parka that defines the USAP program, but at Palmer we won’t need one. Instead we got a little red, rubber steel toed boots and other gear designed to work in wet weather and should serve us well when we work on the ship or from a zodiac.
After clothing issue we had until 1:00 pm when we could board the ship so Steve, Todd and I walked around PA a bit and got a wonderful meal at La Luna; I highly recommend it.

Horse Rider
Horse Riding in PA

At 1:00 everyone boarded the ARSV (Antarctic Research and Supply Vessel) Laurence M. Gould (or LMG)  http://www.lmg.usap.gov/ which will be Steve and my home for the next month. Most passengers will be staying at Palmer Station, but the beds are full so we will be going out to sea with the ship. We found our berthings which will small are comfortable.
As is typical with USAP we had an introduction to the vessel where we learned about safety and some of the do’s and don’ts of living on the LMG – mainly make sure to shut off the toilet valve after flushing. Once we are underway we will have a much more thorough safety briefing.  We also learned that we would be sailing at 8 pm on Monday night so we would arrive at Palmer in the evening in order that one of the science projects could catch some zooplankton – terrapods actually for their research.

Steve Todd heading to ship
Steve and Todd heading for the Lawrence M. Gould

Well after settling in, Steve Todd and I headed out to find some dinner as I am sure we will have enough of the ship’s food for a while. We found another amazing restaurant and had a great dinner before returning to the Palmer for our first nights rest aboard the vessel.

A Punta Arenas specialty