Today was the day, we were going to visit Deception Island and have the opportunity to do an ‘antarctic plunge’ in Whalers Bay. Not as completely crazy as it sounds, due to the volcanic nature of the island, areas of the beach around Whalers Bay are actually warm if you dig down into the sand.
The good news is we got our swimmers on in Antarctica. The bad news, it wasn’t in Deception Bay.
Bad weather stopped play..
Credit to our captain and the crew, they tried their best for us. Deception Bay is known as one of the safest harbours in the Antarctic Peninsula but the days weather wasn’t complying. We navigated safely through the Neptunes Bellows, the narrow entrance into Deception Bay which is just 230m wide.
But luck wasn’t on our side. The heavy snow and high winds made it impossible for the ship to anchor and despite trying to shelter in a number of places in the bay, our visit had to be cancelled. While slightly disappointed, we had already seen and done so many amazing things we couldn’t be upset. And just looking outside at the weather, it wasn’t surprising.
Our competitive nature shines through.
With the morning landing cancelled, the crew decided to arrange an Antarctic quiz to keep us entertained, while they looked at options for the afternoon – which at this stage wasn’t looking good. Our quiz team comprised of the friends we’d spent the most time with on the boat – Erin, Craig, Mady and Pieter. We took the quiz very seriously as the prize was 2 bottles of wine – and we wanted that wine! Going through the questions we were feeling confident.
As the final results were read out and one team after another were eliminated, we were still in the mix. The suspense grew with only two teams left……. but it wasn’t us who won. We’d missed out by just half a point! Devastated. Not only did we miss out on the swim this morning but also on the wine.
Antarctica swimsuit edition.
We didn’t want to miss out completely and so decided we should go for a swim in Antarctica anyway – well a swim in the falling snow. So the group of us put on our swimmers, went up on deck in the freezing cold and snow and took photos for about 5 seconds before we froze and had to get back inside. Team bonding!
Our last Antarctic landing.
We had one last hope for the afternoon. There was talk of us landing at Half Moon Island, which might be sheltered enough for us to take the zodiacs over for one last visit to see a colony of Chipstrap penguins. So for the very last time we put on all our gear, now smelling a lot like penguin, and crossed our fingers. We were in luck! In heavy snow we visited one last time with more fur seals, some weddell seals and a chipstrap penguin colony.
The fresh snowfall made everything look beautiful and it suited the mood. There was a somber feeling in the air. There wasn’t a lot of talking or laughter this landing. Everyone kept to themselves and seemed to be thinking about the last 5 days and all we’d seen and done. Speaking for myself, it had been the trip of a lifetime, something I’d never forget – and I didn’t want to leave.
Despite the cold, we each found a place to sit and think, waiting until the bitter end before boarding the zodiac for a final time and heading back to the MV Ushuaia. Back on board, handing back our boots and life jacket was a sad moment. Our time was coming to an end, but what a journey it had been.
At dinner that night the somber mood continued. We were leaving Antarctica and heading back to the real world, and there was still the return journey on the Drake Passage to come. There was no celebrating that night as we all headed to bed early – in a few hours we’d be back in the Drake…
Our trip to Antarctica was with Antarpply Expeditions on the MV Ushuaia in March 2014. Review to come (but in short they were fantastic). Contact us if you have any questions.