Our voyage through the Antarctic continues in Part 4 of my trip of a lifetime. We have been in awe as we sailed through the Drake’s Passage and visited Elephant’s Island and made our first landfall on Paulet Island. Now, we are off to Deception Island, which I hope got the name for something totally innocent.
Setting our alarm for 4:15 am, Carl and I flew to the deck to see the sun and moon at the same time, but sadly, it was not to be.Too cloudy. We suffered our first disappointment of an otherwise perfect adventure. The seas were quite choppy today and it was snowing as we made our way to Deception Island, an island featuring an active volcano. We sailed into this really narrow passage into the center of the caldera, which is like a crater, where only smaller ships can venture.
We made landing at Whaler’s Bay, an old whaling station from the early 1900’s and later a Bristish research station that was destroyed by a volcano eruption in the 1960’s. The island was obviously happy to see us as we were greeted by a blizzard with 60 mph winds. It reminded me of the nor’easters this Connecticut resident is used to, but truly made us feel like we were in Antarctica.
In spite of the weather, most everyone was eager to go ashore and explore this amazing island. Carl and I started out with the group going on a hike. While Carl made it to the top at 750 feet, I got to 150 feet and chose to come back down. I literally kept getting blown over, started crying, and called it quits before my tears froze. I was afraid I was going to be picked up and literally blown away. I then chose to join the group touring the whaling station and get my history lesson for the day. You can actually walk along the beach, not the kind I’m used to, but it’s a beach, none-the-less.
The night before, the staff had mentioned people could do a polar swim on the island, but no one was sure how serious they were. Oh, they were, and my husband decided to be one of the fools. While they candy-coated it by calling it a “warm spring”, according to Carl, it was anything but and the air was brutal when you came out. They were quite generous by having blankets and a hot toddy waiting for brave when they emerged. Carl will always have bragging rights to swimming in Antarctica. I’m fine without…
The Land of Tabular Ice Bergs
In the afternoon, we were back on board the ship and continued through the Bransfield Strait. We were treated to some spectaular tabular icebergs and a talk by National Geographic photographer, Chris Ranier, on cultures around the world, his specialty, and especially those with tattoos. He showed a video montage he did with Ravi Shankar’s daughter which was called Sacred.
After dinner, a group of us ventured out on deck and we when came around this corner, we were literally awe struck by what was in the distance. It was the granddaddy of all ice bergs we had seen thus far. It absolutely towered over the ship as we approached. We were told it had probably broken off some distant giant ice shelf and drifted here and grounded in the waters. It certainly made up for our disappointment this morning…
Before bed, we were treated to the sight of the mainland of the Antarctic Peninsula and were informed we will be the first voyage to make it here this year. All I can say is AWESOME!
Next Up: Cuverville Island, home to one of the largest gentoo penguin populations and Paradise Bay.
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