Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Bill Buck Cape Horn 2012

From the Field: Bill Buck in Cape Horn, Day 7

Posted in Bill Buck, From the Field, Science on February 8 2012, by William R. Buck

January 23, 2012; Arm of Estero Webb, SW coast of Isla Hoste, approximately 55º14’S, 69º41’W

Last night, as we rounded the west coast of Isla Hoste around dinnertime, we hit the roughest waters of the expedition, and our meal was delayed by several hours. Our destination had been a secluded sound on the west coast of Isla Hoste, but we ended up spending the night tied-in at Bahía San Jorge on Isla Whittlebury. I was told that we would be able to get to our desired destination, but it would have to wait until day because the waters were too shallow to navigate at night.

Bill and Blanka

Bill and Blanka
Picture 1 of 3

I had previously explained our itinerary to the captain, so he suggested that we just flip-flop our intended destinations. The engines started up in the pre-dawn hours and we arrived in another spectacular site, at the end of (yet another) unnamed sound on the north side of Estero Webb. Once again we found ourselves surrounded by glaciers, and since it had been raining regularly for the last day or two, the number of waterfalls coming from the cliff tops had increased exponentially.

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From the Field: Bill Buck in Cape Horn, Day 6

Posted in Around the Garden on February 7 2012, by William R. Buck

January 22, 2012.; Unnamed sound on Isla Gordon behind Cabo El Gorro, approximately 55º02’S, 69º48’W

We were traveling last night until well after 9 p.m., so I decided to just go to bed (yes! I even got to bed earlier than hoped) and put my collections on the dryer in the morning.

At one point when I awoke in the night, it was like a flashback to last year; it rained almost all night, became cold, and the wind picked up. It now seems my reluctance to mention the weather sooner for possibility of jinxing us has proven true. Of course I fully understand that I have no influence over the weather, but the coincidence is nevertheless curious. Despite the weather (or maybe because of it!), I am anxious to get into the field.

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From the Field: Bill Buck in Cape Horn, Day 5

Posted in Bill Buck, From the Field, Science on February 6 2012, by William R. Buck

January 21, 2012; Isla Hoste, Estero Fouque, 55º11’S, 69º35’W

I was wrong about everyone getting up early to go into the field today; late nights and early mornings are catching up to all of us. I have told myself that I will be in bed by 10 p.m. tonight, but we’ll see.

Where we spent the night, at the extreme south end of Estero Fouque, is one of the most amazing places I have ever seen. From the ship’s deck you can see at least five glaciers and in the fleeting moments when the sun comes out, the reflection off the glaciers is almost blinding.

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From the Field: Bill Buck in Cape Horn, Day 4

Posted in Bill Buck, From the Field, Science on February 3 2012, by William R. Buck

January 20, 2012; Isla Hoste, Estero Fouque, approximately 55º11’S, 69º35’W

After yesterday‘s late night, we were all slow to rise this morning. Which turned out to be okay, because at around 5:30 a.m. the crew decided to move to our next site; the movement of the ship was all the incentive we needed to sleep in.

When the ship stopped we got up for breakfast. Today’s first site is–like yesterday afternoon’s site–on Isla Gordon. From the map this site appears to have a glacier-fed stream that enters the sea near the end of a small sound, and this is indeed what we have found. But what we couldn’t see from the map is that the glacier is over the rise of a tall, steep slope, and after yesterday’s exhaustion, there wasn’t much enthusiasm for such a climb. So most of us chose to collect specimens on a relatively flat Magellanic tundra.

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From the Field: Bill Buck in Cape Horn, Day 3

Posted in Bill Buck, From the Field, Science on February 2 2012, by William R. Buck

January 19, 2012; Chile, unnamed sound on north-central coast of Isla Hoste, approximately 55º00’S, 69º12’W

As the sky slowly darkened last night, we passed site after site that we all thought looked like great collecting localities. Today we begin finding out.

Isla Hoste
Isla Hoste

For our first collecting site, we have headed as far east as we will go on this leg of the trip. We are anchored in one of the innumerable, unnamed sounds that dot this area, on the north-central coast of Isla Hoste. Between Isla Hoste and Isla Gordon lies the Beagle Channel (named for Charles Darwin’s ship, the HMS Beagle), and we are planning to bounce back and forth across the southwest arm of the Channel.

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From the Field: Bill Buck in Cape Horn, Day 2

Posted in Bill Buck, From the Field, Science on February 1 2012, by William R. Buck

January 18, 2012; Canal O’Brien, just south of Isla O’Brien, 54º55’S, 70º35’W

I first stepped out onto the deck of our ship around 5 a.m. today. The sun wasn’t quite up and the mountainous islands were dark shapes against a gray, cloud-choked sky. I love early mornings alone with nature. Unfortunately I was dressed only in my sleeping clothes, so the light rain and cold quickly drove me back to my warm bunk.

Barros Channel, West of Isla Gordon
Barros Channel, West of Isla Gordon

We have a different ship this year, the Don José Miguel. It is relatively new and belongs to the same owner as our ship last year, the Don José Pelegrín. It is about a meter wider than the Pelegrín, making it seem much more spacious. On the Pelegrín the bunks were narrower and lower; the roomier bunks on the Miguel allow me to turn over without bumping into the bunk above me. But although the bunk room has more space, there is no place to put luggage except under the lower bunks, an inconvenient process which requires the removing of mattresses and the slats. As a consequence, most of our luggage is piled in the middle of the room, providing an obstacle course, especially in the middle of the night.

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From the Field: Bill Buck in Cape Horn, Day 1

Posted in Bill Buck, From the Field, Science on January 31 2012, by William R. Buck

January 17, 2012; Punta Arenas, Chile

As I begin writing, we are pulling away from the main municipal dock in Punta Arenas, and are beginning our 2012 expedition. (Read about all of Bill’s 2011 adventures here.)

We have a large group this year, with eleven scientists and five crew. Out of the ten flying into Punta Arenas, only four made it on time. I arrived eight hours late due to mechanical problems in Atlanta causing me to miss my connection in Santiago. From Santiago I was scheduled to fly to Punta Arenas, on Sky, but when I arrived late, they told me that there was nothing they could do that day and that they had no responsibility to do so. So, I went to the larger airline, Lan, and was able to purchase a new ticket for later that same day; almost surely cheaper than a hotel and dinner in Santiago! When I arrived in Punta Arenas at around midnight, I found an empty airport completely devoid of taxis.

Our Chilean collaborator Juan Larraín, also had a Sky flight to Punta Arenas that was delayed–he was stranded at his layover in Puerto Montt and arrived four hours late. This is not an airline I intend to use again! Matt von Konrat, of the Field Museum in Chicago, also found himself delayed and had to spend the night in Dallas/Fort Worth. He arrived about eight hours late, finally landing in Punta Arenas around 3 a.m. After my late-night, taxi-less arrival, I knew Matt would have the same problem. Seeing as he speaks very little Spanish, Juan and I arranged for a taxi to pick us up at our hotel at 2:15 a.m., take us to the airport, wait, and bring us all back to the hotel. When Matt arrived in the baggage claim area, he looked very tired and weary, but his facial expression changed immediately to one of relief when he spotted us waiting for him.

The team en route to Isla Hoste
The team en route to Isla Hoste

Returning for a second expedition is Blanka Shaw from Duke University, as well as Matt (who has made a really great project website), Juan, and our facilitator/scientist, Ernesto Davis. I don’t think I can count how many trips Ernesto made to the airport, especially with all the missed and canceled flights. He is our hero.

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