Friday, December 30, 2011

Antarctica Day 8: Whaler´s Bay - Deception Island / Half Moon Island - South Shetland Islands.

They are extraordinarily like children, these little people of the Antarctic world, either like children or old like old men full of their own importance and late for dinner, in their black tail coats and white shirt fronts – and rather portly withal”
--- Apsley Cherry-Garrard – The Worst Journey on the World.

From our itinerary: We Enter Deception Island through 1300 feet wide gap in the wall known as Neptunes Bellows so named because of the violent winds that sometimes blow across the mouth of the entrance.
Deception Island rises 1600 feet from the sea bed and has a submerged base diameter of 15 miles. The caldera is about 6 miles in diameter and has a depth of 585 feet. It was formed by a big collapse due to an eruption of an unknown age. At least 85% of this island was formed by volcanism prior to the collapse.

Well that was a night! The ocean had a bit of a had a bit of a temperament last night. At around 11 pm the ship started to roll a bit and by 11:30 things were falling off the desk and the chair fell over. I took a peep out the port hole and since it was still daylight I could see the ocean in all its nastiness. My room is on the second floor but when we rolled I was no more than 10 feet from the deep blue instant death. I was rolling in my bed and at one time made a point of hanging on to the bed railings. The waves were 3 metres (so I found out in the morning). That now puts the passage back to through the Drake into perspective. Estimated waves going back are to be 6 to 8 metres. That’s up to 25 feet!!

Today we pulled into Deception Island. I dragged my butt out of bed and headed to the warmth of the bridge because the winds were howling. Along with 10 others we watched the captain navigate into the bay through a tight but manageable 1600 foot entrance. The wind prevented us from a landing so we moved onto Half moon bay, 3 hours north.

I went back to bed and slept very soundly until the noon lunch call. After lunch we would be taking our last Zodiac out to Half Moon. We would have the opportunity to walk around and if the spirit moved us, go for a swim. Yes that is exactly what I said, go for a swim. Swimming in the Antarctic sounds great in theory but I have never been very theoretical. The glacier views were stunning and in the distance a couple humpbacks were swimming in the bay. We hung around for about an hour then the call came out. “Whoever wants to swim now is the time. It was go time!

**I understand that we should always be open to trying new experiences and to challenge ourselves whenever we can, but diving into the Antarctic did nothing for me, not even a little bit.
I cheered the 15 or so who did go in and it was hilarious to watch. If the screams were heard were in any city on the planet the police would certainly have been called**

It was time to settle up my bar bill and get ready for the 2.5 day cruise back to Ushuaia. We have a great contest started. The rules are very basic. You cannot take any sea sick medication and whoever throws up last wins. A $1 entrance fee gets you in and we even had the crew announce it over the speaker system. When I asked Hector the crew manager if anyone has ever had a contest like that he just smiled and said “no but you people do not surprise me anymore”. There is a nervous energy on the boat as we wait to see how nasty Mother Nature is going to be to us.

Posted on the daily agenda:Just a reminder that later today we will be entering the DRAKE PASSAGE – Please make sure to secure your cabins by placing all breakable items in the drawers or on the floor, and take your sea sickness medication.

As we entered the Drake we took one last look at the calm of the ocean and the rocks of Antarctica. The second and I mean literally the second we entered the Drake the growing ocean swells knowingly smiled as they started rolling towards us growing by the minute all the while the crew started taping up vomit bags along all the corridors and handrails. Ignorant really is bliss.

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