Our staff attempts a landing at Half Moon Island
We wait patiently for a letup in the weather in the Observation Lounge
Consolation comes in the form of delicious desserts
Deception Island gives us gusts of 60 knot winds!
Le Boreal - December 13, 2011
Deception Island, Bransfield Strait
Temperature: 33° F
Wind speed: 40 knots
Cloud cover: 100%
Precipitation: Occasional intermittent snow
Another very different face of Antarctica greeted us when we awoke this morning. Yesterday's blue sky was now obscured by thick low clouds, and the wind had churned up the sea to a froth. When we arrived off of Halfmoon Island, Expedition Leader Larry Hobbs and Assistant Expedition Leader Marco Favero took a zodiac out to scout the landing. The wind and swell were too great both at the landing and ship to carry out safe zodiac operations, so Captain Patrick Marchesseau set a course for Deception Island, where we hoped conditions might be better.
On the way, many of us took advantage of the opportunity to catch up on some sleep, or joined Historian Bob Burton in The Theater for his presentation, "Roald Amundsen and the South Pole: Celebration of the Centenary". One hundred years ago tomorrow, Amundsen and his men arrived at the South Pole, the first ever to do so. Bob painted a picture of this extraordinary explorer, a man who knew from an early age that he wanted to discover as-of-yet unexplored and uncharted places in the high latitudes, and took the steps to train himself to be able to do just that.
Under driving snow, we arrived at the mysterious Deception Island, so-named because it appears to be a normal island at first glance, but is really anything but normal. A flooded volcano, approximately eight miles in diameter, Deception Island is shaped like a doughnut with a bite out of its side. Captain Patrick Marchesseau carefully examined the conditions at the entrance to determine if was safe to take the ship inside the flooded caldera. After careful analysis, Captain Patrick Marchesseau determined that the winds were not abating, and so it would not be possible to take the ship inside. After admiring the dramatic landscape from the outside, including a massive rock wall called Bailey Head (behind which a 70,000 - 80,000 pair-strong colony is situated), we left the South Shetland Islands en route to the western Antarctic Peninsula.
Following lunch, we joined Geologist Juan Carlos Restrepo in The Theater for his presentation, "Geology rocks!". Juan explained the basics of plate tectonics with examples of different types of plate movements from all over the world. This was followed by Marine Biologist Jim McClintock's talk entitled, "Drug discovery in Antarctica. Jim went into detail about the chemical defenses that many marine organisms use, and how some of these chemicals actually have properties that may aid in the prevention and cure of certain diseases.
Before dinner, we gathered for a Recap and Briefing with the Expedition Staff, where Naturalist Suzana Machado D'Oliveira Harker covered a particularly appropriate topic for the day: the Beaufort wind scale. This was followed by Historian Bob Burton's account of the history of Deception Island. We relaxed over a quiet dinner, and dropped by the Observation Lounge for a drink before heading off to bed to dream of tomorrow's calmer seas.