Deception Island and beyond

Lars Alfredson
Sun 22 Jan 2012 00:34
Pos 62:35.55S 59:54.88W Half Moon Island

As usual Urban followed by Bob

Hej !

Peter väcker besättningen genom att sprida lukt av en engelsk frukost. Stekt egg, bönor m.m. Mätta tar vi oss till en vik som heter Pendulum Cove. Här ska det finnas varmt vatten. Det visar sig att vattnet nära strandkanten är varmt. Någonstans runt 25+. Peter bestämmer sig för att bada. Jo, det är varmt om man flyter. 40 centimeter ner är det iskallt. Ton Ton tar samma beslut och kastar sig i.

Nästa mål är Whalers Bay som också ligger i denna jättekrater. En gammal norsk valfångar station. 1923 var det ett så kraftigt utbrott att vattnet kokade i valviken. Färgen på båtarnas skrov smälte. 1931 stängdes stationen.

Mycket finns kvar sedan denna tid. Stora tankar för valolja. Hus för personal. Små båtar i trä. Här fanns till och med en landningsbana. Hangaren finns kvar.

Ett måste är att besöka Neptunes Window. Kraterväggen har rasat på detta ställe. Utsikten är mot havet. Jag gjorde ett försök att förklara hur fint det var men det sprack så jag suddade ut det. När vi promenerar är vi försiktiga med var vi går. Finns det lite växtlighet undviker man att gå där. Det tar år för naturen att återställa. Idag är en av de dagar där vi haft möjlighet att ta en lång promenad. Ingen snö, bara svart lavasand.

Hoppas inte det blir ett utbrott i natt. Kapten Lars skulle inte bli glad om färgen skulle försvinna på båten. Men varmt och gott skulle det nog bli i båten.

Det blåser 15 sekundmeter när vi vaknar. Dagens mål är först Baily Head. Det ligger på utsidan av Deception Island. När vi stiger iland börjar vi ana att här finns det Chinstrap pingviner i massor. Promenad upp mot vulkansidan. Det går inte att beskriva hur många det finns. Promenaden för en del som ska ta sig till sitt bo måste ta minst en dag. Nu är turen på vår sida. En ensam Macaroni pingvin. De som utmärker dessa mest är gula långa "strån" på huvudet.

Nästa mål ligger ligger 20 nm norr över. Hannah Point som ligger på Livingston Island. Här finns många olika djur. Väl där finns det ingen möjlighet för oss att ankra. 15 sekundmeter i viken och hög sjö. Det blir till att vända mot ett nytt mål 30 nm bort, Half Moon Island. För att komma dit får vi 20 nm där vi har Livingston Island på vår barbords sida. Höga berg och glaciärer. När vi närmar oss Half Moon Island börjar det snöa men man förstår tydlig vad namnet kommer ifrån. Viken liknar en halvmåne. Klockan är nu 20.00 på kvällen alla rusar in i värmen. Frisk luft och snö har vi fått nog av. Lördagsmiddagen väntar.

Bon apetit Urban

20012012 Explorations

Our first port of call is Pendulum cove across the bay from our anchorage. As we approach the shoreline we can see the steam rising, the result of geothermal heated water percolating through the black ash sand and into the bay.

Giant Petrels the size of small turkeys are paddling at the water edge quite unperturbed by our presence and we advance within a metre of them before take any notice of us.

Behind it are the tortured metallic remains of a former Chilean scientific station. The base was destroyed in 1967 and 1969 by volcanic eruptions that occurred close by. One eruptive fissure headed toward the building in which the base staff were sheltering, cracked its walls and forced the occupants to flee.

There was no loss of life and the 27 men escaped overland to the British base at Whalers Bay. However the eruption grew in magnitude and after two hours began to engulf this base as well. Both the Chileans and the British staff were taken off the island by the Chilean ship "Pilito Pardo"

Most of the Base has been cleared though twisted metal work of the radio masts and the concrete plinths of the building remain half buried, along wooden posts and old window frames lying in the ash.

Checking the sea temperature at the shore line shows it to around 26C. This of course prompts the ever prepared Peter to don his bathers and leap in. Tonton returns to the yacht to get suitably kitted and joins in the fun, though having a greater "Draught" than Peter, is more aware of the depth of the warm layer.

Our next destination is Whaler Bay about 8 nmiles further around the bay and near the entrance of "Neptune's Bellows". Having anchored just off the beach near three large rusty storage tanks we pause for lunch.

Ashore we stroll around the remains of the Norwegian Hektor whaling station which operated from 1912 to 1931. The relics consist of banks of boilers, oil tanks, houses and a floating dry dock wash up on the beach.

Mixed in amongst these structures are the remains of British Base "B", which was built here in 1944 as part of secret wartime "Operation Tabarin", designed to keep an eye on any enemy activity in the far South.

As well as using the existing building the also added their own including an aircraft hanger and airstrip. On the beach nearby and in two parts are the half buried remains of an old Ferguson tractor.

Crossing from the factory area to it we come across some graves. The main whalers cemetery, runway, Base, were destroyed by a mud flow triggered by a volcanic eruption in 1969.

Retracing our step to walk the other half of the beach we check out the oil tanks and the floating dock as we proceed to what looks like several large dumps of whale bones.

On investigation they turn out to be the remains of hundreds of wooden oil barrels, the iron hoops having rusted leaving the staves standing upright in the sand. There are a few whale bones exposed by snow-melt streams running down the beach.

In amongst the mounds are several part buried, water boats now sailing in a sandy sea. Reaching the end of the beach we trek up to "Neptune's Window" a gap in the rim of a volcano. At the top of the narrow rim, there is a shear drop to the sea outside with the towering rock either side rising steeply above us.

We had met some of the crew of the "Santa Maria Australis" on the beach and planned a happy hour with them back at Telephone bay. They call us later to say they are still at the Spanish Base. On reflection we realise it would take us about three hours by the time had sailed there, anchored, as well as set our lines so we cancel and decide to overnight where we are. This would save us on diesel and as we were just off "Neptune's Bellows" we would have less distance to go when we left the island in the morning.

Bob the Blog

21012012 Bailey Head

Breakfast is a bouncy affair as the wind and seas have got up and the woollies are at it. Fortunately we've plenty of chain out, though in the strong wind there's a lot of strain on our only winch as the driving wind skews us uncontrollably.

Free at last, we shoot through "Neptunes Bellow" out to the open sea. Wollies scream down the craters rim sending us on our beam ends as well as whipping up a mist of spray all around us.

Turning around the Head into what should be the lea, the woollies take on a new ferocity and are joined by snow to form a blizzard. The smell hits you first as we come round to anchor off a black beach. There are thousands of penguins in large colonies all the way up the mountain side. Along the beach they are knee deep with a couple of Fur Seals lounging above them.

The usual attendant Brown Skuas sit amongst them, always on the lookout for a quick meal. They're very big weighing up to six pounds with a 5 foot 3inch wingspan.

The shore party set out while Tonton and I stay on anchor watch with woollies gusting to 40knots sending us reeling about on our anchor chain.

At last we can tick the box on the elusive "Macaroni" penguin with its distinctive orange crests that join across the forehead... Living amongst the "Chinstraps" it's a little bigger, weighing in at 7 to 15lbs.

The woollies give us a good send off with a knockdown and "Greenies" rushing down the deck surging over the Pilot house, those not ducking quick enough have their hoods fill to add to their discomfort.

We're doing 9 knots in big seas with just a number 2 jib rolled out as we head for an uncertain anchorage on the southern tip of Livingston Island. As we near, it becomes obvious that we'll have to abandon plans to anchor here and go back around the tip, then up the eastern side to the north end to find somewhere in the lea.

The AIS shows we are being followed by the "Europa" an enormous 39 metre yacht also heading for "Hannah Point" so it'll be interesting to see what they do. As she comes past us we see she's a beautiful modern version of a Clipper ship and is running on very little canvas.

Radio contact gives us some info on the anchorages and they agree that for a small? Yacht it's probably better to find somewhere more sheltered. So, tacking, we turn around retracing our track until we turn North East up the side of the island making for "Half Moon Island"

The island has an Argentinean Base, a Chinstrap penguin colony as well as a slowly decaying, clinker built boat on the beach according to our notes.

There are some confused seas just as we round point, Thomas who had perched himself on the table is suddenly launched across the cockpit as a big sea hits us. The good news is the wind is now astern and we're running with the seas.

The number one Jib is rolled out as we try top Goosewing but without the pole to hold it out the heavy seas make it to unstable so its rolled back in. We're still making nearly 9 knots to the sound of the Beatles, in snow flurries.

The coastline is truly awesome. It's very difficult judge distance and height because everything is so enormous. Evenly spaced mountain peaks tower at least a thousand feet up from the sea. We pass the mother of all peaks that towers into the clouds above these and must be at least ten times as high.

Every valley has a glacier terminating in a hundred foot wall of diced ice ready to be "Calved" into yet another iceberg. This coastline is 18 nmiles long and there are about ten glaciers to the miles making this a pretty intensive Berg factory!

Its five miles until we round the end of the Livingston Island and turn for "Half Moon Island" a few miles north. The wind dies so its engine on and a change of CD. The Beatles have been running for some hours now, so they are usurped by Cat Stevens, you can't beat the "Oldies"

As we make our turn to Half Moon Island the wind gets up and is blowing 30knots on the nose. The engine is struggling to make 4.5 knots in a rising sea as we work our way past jagged rocks. We are treated to the familiar smell of penguin and as we pass close by we can see the rocks are cover with them.

The crescent shaped islands is actually two larger islands connected by a 12 metre high shingle beach. The wind is screaming over the top as we try to get the anchor to hold and recovering the anchor on our first failed attempt it comes up covered in kelp.

In the middle of this another blizzard hits from over shingle wall. Though the sea is slight the wind is causing a problem, but eventually the anchor takes hold.

Tonton makes contact with Argentinean base to ask what type of meat he cooking for us tonight as no one can translate the Spanish label! They reply that it's the best cut of beef and would we like to come over and dine with them. We tell them there are six of us which might be a problem. So we're invited to Bar-b-q with them tomorrow instead.

Armed with this new gastronomic information we're all looking to our dinner aboard tonight!

Bob the Blog