The Drake passage was was generous to us this time. With a tail wind and following seas we ended up with a 15% speed increase for nearly two days, and even made a stop to watch the Humpback whales. This is what allowed us our bonus day in Antarctica. Deception island, the place most guides don't like to go, because we always go there, however it hasn¹t lost it¹s touch on me. Part of the reason why is summed up in a lovely passage in the Lonely Planet guide for Antarctica:
"Because deception island is one of the most popular visitor sites, it¹s thought-provoking to learn that volcanologists consider it ³a restless caldera with considerable volcanic risk".
A sudden collapse of Deception¹s caldera could cause a major eruption, ³with potentially devastating effects on anyone on the island at the time² with escape from the land ³unlikely². The probability of the caldera collapsing, however is ³very low² and would probably be preceded by earthquakes for several days or weeks prior to an eruption. ³However, any eruptions can take place with relatively little immediate warning.² The plan also offers this helpful suggestion: ³if ships are present within Port Foster when an eruption occurs, they should depart the island immediately, ideally after uplifting all people ashore.² ideally indeed.²
We enter Neptune's bellows (which I have to pronounce "NEPTUUUUUNES BELLOWWWWWWWWWS" for dramatic effect) to get inside the caldera of this toilet bowl shaped island, which is a tight squeeze for the ship.
We wandered around the black volcanic sand, and got to watch the sky turn orange since this is a rare late night excursion. I took a walk up to Neptune's window (just underneath neptune's nipple) and on the beach we discovered these really fascinating colonizing organisms throbbing on the shore that to me looked like some kind of egg casings. Turns out they were salps, filter feeding organisms that I certainly have to do more research on. They looked clearer than any crystal I've seen with a bright red nucleus, and twitched slowly.
The sun sat but the twilight stayed, this being the day after the summer solstice it never gets completely dark. The ship beckoned, glowing with warmth as christmas draws near.
I leap onto the ship with glee because that night was the time to decorate the clipper bar with christmas cheer. The Tree stood bare, begging to be decorated, mulled wine, gingerbread cookies and a warm fire (a dvd of a fire place) greeted us. I had prepared the DVD and and loads of christmas music months in advance in anticipation of this. I didn¹t last long, I have a full day of Antarctica ahead of me, sleep is welcome.