The day before the last day of the year, started off just like every other day. We got up. Ate breakfast. Went on a tour of an Half Moon Island to visit Chin Strap penguins. Got back on the boat. Had lunch. Sailed through Neptune’s Bellows. Landed on Deception Island. Endured a storm of sleet. Watched someone almost fall off a cliff. Went swimming in the Antarctic ocean. Had a warm coffee. Dinner. Went to bed.
First we half to start at the beginning.
Half Moon Island is home to a large population of Chin Strap Penguins.
I think these may be my favorite penguins and it’s not just because that is my animal name on this cruise. For starters, when they lay down, they look like they have this huge grin.
And I think they are the first penguins that could care less about us. The King penguins were very inquisitive. If you held still, they would come up to you and peck at your boots. But the Chin Strap penguins are more like, “Seriously, bitch, get out of my way. Can’t you see that I’m working here?”
They are also quite cantankerous with their fellow penguins. Constantly stealing pebbles from their neighbors. (Apparently pebbles are like gold to our penguin friends).
But they have the cutest chicks
And the smell wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the day before. Or maybe it didn’t smell at all and that wonderful scent was still wafting up from our clothes.
Moving on. Our next stop was Deception Island so named because of the large harbor hiding within the island.
To get into the Harbor, you have to go through Neptune’s Bellows. A small strait with a large sumbmerged rock in the middle. Quite a feat just to get a boat of any size in.
The bellow’s part was definitely true. The wind was blowing at hurricane strength and you had to bend over just to stay standing in one spot.
We landed below the old British station and hiked up to Neptune’s Window. It wasn’t the most strenuous hike, but it was a sheer cliff drop off on the other side.
We watched a gentleman from our boat start chasing a plastic bag and almost slipped right over the edge. The expedition team member, Patri, was so much kinder then we would have been. She gave him a hug and told him she was glad he survived. I would have promptly scolded him and sent him back to the boat for the remainder of the trip.
During this short hike, we endured a sleet storm. And let me tell you, that stuff doesn’t feel good on your skin. However, by the time we got back to the landing site, the sleet had stopped. It was still freezing cold. Which is good, because:
We are now the proud members of the most exclusive polar bear club in the world, the Whaler’s Bay Hot Tub Club.
But don’t let the name fool you. There was nothing hot about the water.
Deception Island might be home to a semi-active volcano that sometimes generates hot springs along the inner harbor. But they weren’t working today (Must have been on holiday). Instead the water was a balmy 40 degrees. In 30 degree weather.
We quickly changed behind the ruins of a floating dock and ran into the water. All 6 of us. Some ran faster then others and one was in the water, dunked, and dressed before the rest were completely submerged.
I can’t believe that I am willingly posting a picture of myself in a bathing suit.
Oh, and to get you name in the log, you can to have your head completely submerged.
And it’s a cold ride back to the boat.
But we did it! And we can forever up one uppers by saying we swam in the Antarctic Ocean.
And just so you don’t begin to suffer penguin withdrawal, there were penguins there too: