At last - a landing on Deception Island.
We didn’t actually make it to Deception Island last night as planned as the weather was so bad and because of the storm that we were negotiating in “mini Drake” the ship had to slow right down. At one stage as I stood on the bridge the anenometer recorded 75 knots. Another ship apparently also gave up trying to negotiate Antarctic Sound for a landing and emailed our ship to say they were experiencing 80 knot winds.
We arrived just outside the caldera that forms Deception Island at about midnight and anchored for the night. At 6.30 we received the call “Good morning, good morning, Antarcticans” and by 7am I was on the deck in front of the bridge as the captain carefully steered the ship through the 1300 foot wide passage - with a rock at a depth of 2 metres in the centre - through Hercules Bellows. The name is said to arise because of the strength of the wind that hits you as you move through this passage. All I can say is that Hercules was working overtime.
As we manouvered into the centre of the island it was cold, grey, snowing and windy. Deception Island gets its name from the fact that originally many sailors thought that they would get shelter from the storms outside the caldera. They were wrong, as I discovered.
There was initially some uncertainty about the landing, but at 9am 4 zodiacs moved into action and we were all soon on shore at Telephone Bay. Not far away was a Weddell Seal with its pup. We were not able to get to close because it was nervous, and unfortunately I had felt today would not be a great wildlife day and so did not have my long lens with me. Despite that I managed to get some photos, and as the weather, although fluctuating, improved slightly I was also able to photograph my old friends the Gentoo penguins, and some new ones the Chinstrap Penguins. (Deception Island has the largest colony of Chinstraps.)
I started to walk towards the top of the hill in order to look down into the volcano when I realised that I had lost my lens hood, so had to retrace my steps. I couldn’t find it, but somebody else had picked it up and returned it to me over lunch.
Another excellent meal at lunch time with a piping hot soup along with rice, vegetables and chicken, also piping hot and warming.
At 2.30 we were back into the zodiacs and heading to Pendulum Cove. This is a volcanic island and as we approached the shoreline it was surreal to see steam rising from the sea in Antarctica. Some hardy souls took the “Antarctic Plunge”.
The landing was very brief - just 90 minutes - but I managed to take a few landscape photos and also photograph a Weddell Seal; and this time I had my long lens. A little bit regimented as to where we could wander, so will have to start behaving or I may be left in Antarctica.
It’s now 4.30pm and the ship is already heading away from Deception Island, presumably for our 3rd crossing of “mini Drake”, as we head back to the Antarctic Peninsula. We have been told to meet in the bar at 6pm, as there may be another activity before the day is over. No clues provided.