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Antarctic Peninsula Excursions - Friday, 20 February 2015

Shore excursions

snow 3 °C

Had a great night's sleep, jumped into the shower and then had our room service breakfast.  Then the fun began - trying to put on all our clothes for our excursion ashore in Half Moon Bay.  The island was known to sealers in the area as early as 1821.  This crescent shaped island is 2km long and lies in the entrance to Moon Bay on the eastern side of Livingston Island.  It is home to nesting chin strap penguins and to some blue eyed cormorants.  Half Moon Island is also home to the Argentine Summer Research Station "Camara".

I had on:  a bra, undies, singlet, long johns (top and bottom), long sleeved tee shirt, polo fleece, waterproof outer pants, pashmina around my neck, my chinchilla head band to keep my ears warm, the Scenic Tours beanie, our big red jacket, a life vest, two pairs of gloves (one inner pair and one outer pair), two pairs of socks and gum boots!  Phew!  it was such an effort to get dressed.

We went to the zodiac landing, hopped on and headed off for the land - the south Shetland Islands.  We just couldn't believe we were actually here.  There were a lot of rocks, snow and ice and a big iceberg on the other side.  This is the home of the chin strap  penguin and it was so nice just to stand there and watch them coming and going.  It is quite an effort for them, with their webbed feet to climb up and down rocks.  Nature didn't do too well here. Imagine having webbed feet and trying to climb rocks.

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There were some big fur seals lying on the beach (rocks) and every now and then they would rear up and have a little fight.  It was fantastic.

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We spent about an hour on the island then climbed aboard the zodiac for the ride back to the ship.  We had to rinse our boots in the sea before we got into the zodiac and then back on the boat, scrub our boots and pants in disinfectant before we could go to our cabins.

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It started to snow just a little bit on our way back but only snow flurries.  It is supposed to snow this arvo.  It is supposed to be 3 degrees but feels a bit chillier than that.  It is quite difficult to take photos with gloves on, but it doesn't take long for your fingers to get really cold.

Our lovely butler, Baptiste was waiting for us and carried our boots back to our room.  We got a bit of a rass from Steve and Maddie about our butler, but we love him.

Back in our room to strip off and dry our waterproof pants ready for another excursion this afternoon.

And of course, hot chocolate from Baptiste!  I could get very used to having a Butler!

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We set sail at lunch time and at about 1.30 pm we sailed through the Neptune Bellows.  This channel was named by American sealers after the Roman sea god Neptune because of the strong gusts experienced in this region.  We arrived at Whalers' Bay on Deception Island and proceeded to get dressed in our gear and headed ashore.

In the early 1900s, whaling companies used Port Foster as a mooring site for the floating factory ships.  The shore whaling station was in use between 1911 and 1931.  During the 1940s and 50s the British, Argentines and Chileans all built bases on the island.  In 1967, a sizeable voĺanic eruption destroyed the Chilean base and in 1969 another eruption badly damaged the British Base and partly buried the old whaling station in ash.  A third eruption in 1970 produced a series of craters which are still visible.

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The cemetery was washed away in one of these eruptions and these crosses are all that remained.

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These little things are called Brittle Stars.  Because this is a volcanic island, the beach is black and the water is quite warm.

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The weather is quite a bit warmer than this morning.  I am feeling quite warm with all my clobber on and didn't need to wear my gloves at all.  Having a little rest prior to the cocktail party this evening.

The cocktail party was for all the Platinum and Diamond people aboard, so there were quite a few people in attendance.  Spoke to some Canberra bashing people so after the Captain's speech, we joined another group.

We had dinner in the a la carte restaurant with Lyn and Anne, Jeanette, Shirley, Long Tall Sally and Pam.  The ship was bouncing along in huge waves that were splashing on the dining room windows.  Lots of oooohing and aaaaahing!

Took a sea sick tablet and went to bed.

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Posted by gaddingabout 07:09 Archived in Antarctica

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