The next day, was March 2; we got up at 5.00 AM to hike up the glacier for a view of a sunrise at Neko Harbor. The sun was not out that day, but the view was spectacular, none-the-less.
We had our regular routine of Breakfast at 7.30, lunch at 12.30, and coffee at 16.00 with dinner at 19.30.
The routine was broken again with an outing at 11.00 AM to visit the rookery of, again Gentoo Penguins, on Wiencke Island
The British had a weather and research station for the Ionosphere here until 1962.
The bickering as to who ‘owns’ this speck of land was sometimes even comical. Argentina, Chile and the United Kingdom, the three Nations, all laid ‘claim’ to this spot on the Antarctic Peninsula. Erecting national symbols, depositing written claims, facing each other with verbal claims for this Port is all part of the history here. After all was said and done, after they had their dinners to discuss it among each other no country won. The Antarctic Treaty superseded any claims and since 1958 all claims by any Nation have been shelved.
During Lunch our ship passed through the narrow Le Maire Channel.
It looked like we were fitting the ship through the eye of a needle.
For the afternoon, the Antarctic Dream scheduled Zodiac tours, drive by’s, of the icebergs a bit further south. After a long wait amidships, we finally stepped out in rough seas at 17.30 to the Zodiacs. Carol and I were among the first to climb on board. As soon as we stepped off the wobbly gangway, which was not even installed properly, we got swamped by a huge wave. We were soaking wet. Our Zodiac was just about 20 meters from the ship when the whole operation was cancelled. We had to return to the Mother Ship immediately. Carol and I were dripping from head to toe, covered in ice cold seawater. “Everybody back to their cabins, please”: came the PA announcements. Safety first!
Yes, the trip was rescheduled a bit later again but Carol and I passed on this tour as our gloves were very wet inside. Yet the people that returned had a great time among the icebergs. Even so, at the very end, the winds picked up again and large waves doused some folks returning in the Zodiacs pretty well. I missed this trip.
The following day we had to get up really early again. Announcements came through the PA system at 5 AM. The First Zodiacs left at 5.30 AM. Our destination was the caldera of a not so active volcano.
Along the beach, years ago, some whalers had their boiling station here.
Not far from those abandoned looking buildings, now a museum, steam rose out of the ground, washed over by the gentle surf. Heat from the magma below rises up to give some warmth and makes a small spot ice free in winter. Very small, yet it is a left over from the volcanic activities that created this Island.
This spot is used to dare passengers to take a swim in the icy waters of the Antarctic Ocean. Some fools took off their clothes, stood in the ice cold wind and dipped into the almost freezing waters (31 Degrees F). Never mind the very small patch of ‘hot’ sand near the water’s edge. The water is like ice water.
Shivering, but smiling we returned back to the ship for some hot broth.
We had more lectures on mammals, specifically whales, we ate lunch. We waited for the weather to get better before landing at Livingston Island to see Macaroni and Adélie Penguins but it never happened. We had had our last tour visiting the old whaling station and swimming in the Antarctic Ocean.
The weather determines every landing. And the weather always wins in Antarctica. While we, as people, try to master nature, this continent has its own rules. Antarctica is like a fickle woman; changing constantly for no apparent reason. Do something stupid and she will just take you away. Take her away and the earth, as it is now, will not exist.