Land Ahoy

Trip Start Jan 29, 2007
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13
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Trip End May 30, 2007


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Flag of Antarctica  ,
Monday, March 5, 2007

Morning Temp: 4C
Winds: 19 Knots SW
Evening Temp: 4C
Winds: 8 Knots SW

Well, weve finally made it across the Drake Passage and are in relatively calm waters around the South Shetland Islands.

In the morning, with high winds coming from the South West, we made our first landing on Half Moon Island. This 1.25 mile (2 kilometre) long, crescent-shaped island lies in the entrance of Moon Bay between Greenwich and Livingston Islands. The island was known to sealers as early as 1821. There are some excellent hiking opportunities and some truly glorious scenery. The remains of a Norwegian water boat that was stranded during a storm can still be seen on the beach. A short climb uphill and over the cobble was
required to reach the first of the molting chinstraps. Kelp Gulls, Antarctic Terns and Skuas were also abundant. A short walk to the other end of the island took us to the Argentine station "Teniente Camara" where the personnel of the station warmly welcome us and
many of us mailed post cards to locations around the world.

In the afternoon we visited Deception Island. We started our crossing through the Neptune's Bellows, the narrow entrance to this horseshoe-shaped island. The scene was breathtaking as we turned to starboard side and navigated next to the northeastern cliff. After crossing the Bellows the captain sailed inside Port Foster, the 9.2 miles diameter flooded caldera, resulting from the collapse of the volcano. Port Foster is 5.8 miles long from the northwest to southeast and more than 3.5 miles wide being the most protected anchorage site on the South Shetlands.

Then we landed at Whalers Bay. Here lay the remains of the Norwegian "Hektor" Whaling Station (1911-1931). The remains of the abandoned Biscoe House (Base "B" of the Operation Tabarin) and the BAS (British Antarctic Survey) base can also be seen. The old
barrels, equipment, whalebones, and other debris are partially buried by black and reddish volcanic pyroclastic sediments of various sizes related to the eruption of 1969 which forced the BAS to abandon this scientific station. In 1995 the whaling station was designated as
Historic Site under the Antarctic Treaty. We climbed to the Neptune's Window; a panoramic view point from which we could see the bay and also the sea surrounding the island. Later, some of us, of course including me, decided to have a bath in the warm waters of this mystic volcano.

I stripped off and ran down the beach and jumped into the freezing cold sea. Wasnt as cold as standing on the beach but I lasted only about 30 seconds before deciding to jump into the newly-made hot bath.

We made our way back to the ship, and watched from the inner and outer decks, as we sailed once again through the Neptune's Bellows on to our next destination.
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