Day 6 Friday 21st February 2014
What a contrast! Yesterday evening we were still being tossed around in Drake’s Passage although we only had less than seventy miles to go to Boyd Strait into the South Shetlands.
By early this morning we were in the Bransfield Strait. The sea was c onsiderably calmer and we had all found our sea legs. Glaciers and wh ales had been spotted as we approached Deception Island which is a ca ldera.
In preparation for going ashore, Skip Novak provided us with a briefi ng regarding the wild life of the Island and how to approach any bird s and animals ashore making sure we kept an appropriate distance and not barring their route to the sea if they needed to escape our advances. He also gave a history of the Deception Island including its use as a base for Norwegian whalers. Subsequently, scientific bases were set up by the Argentinians, Chileans and British. These were engulfed by ash from the eruption of the volcano in 1969. The staff on the bases were only narrowly rescued due to the dangerous and challenging conditions.
The Island was given the name Deception because the entrance to the caldera is easily missed. Captain Bransfield first discovered the entr ance in 1819 and found a safe harbour within. As we approached we saw the dramatic cliffs disguising the entrance. It was fascinating to se e the Gentoo penguins marching resolutely up the cliffs to their roos ts. While waiting for another boat to leave the anchorage which we we re to use later, we circled the shore around the caldera, noting the ruins of the whaling station and scientific bases as well as spotting penguins, seals and skuas. Whilst noting these we also observed the alternating layers of ash and snow on the eastern side of the caldera.
As we write we are looking forward to our first step ashore in Antarctica.
Aft Port Watch: Andrew, Holly, Chris, Eileen, Louise, Tom, Ian, Barbara and Celia