Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

Deception Island and Hannah Point

Posted from Hannah Point, Antarctic Peninsula at 9:25 pm, January 16th, 2006

Another great but exhausting day. After the early wakeup call I joined the staff ashore to catch zodiacs in the waves at Baily Head. Luckily the swell wasn’t bad, and the job was relatively easy. After unloading boats and admiring the thousands and thousands of loafing penguins on the black sand beach the trail led through a gully dubbed the “penguin highway” on which thousands of penguins were walking, incoming on the right and outgoing on the left. The colony itself is set within a natural amphitheatre, and over a hundred thousand penguins filled every available bit of space, making for an incredible sight.

After visiting the colony, returning, and sending off the last zodiac, Ted led a hike across the island from Baily Head to Whaler’s Bay. The Bay sits in the interior of the island on the flooded caldera of the old volcano. It was an awesome hike, with only mild shenanigans from Rod, Hugh and Marlene. After finishing the hike the hot springs that seep from the sands at shore were the sight of the trip’s Antarctic swim, and about fifteen swimmers bathed in the hot (and cold) water while about fifty photographers captured the event. Being camera shy I figured it might be better to just jump off the gangway later in the trip, well away from any lenses. The most memorable moment during the swim was probably Craig’s rush out to cold water, quick disrobing (underwater), and then issues with getting his swim trunks back on in the cold water. Certain Seinfeld episodes came to mind during that particular moment.

The Cheesemans re-arranged the afternoon schedule to allow for a brief evening landing at Hannah Point, but despite the numerous humpback whales as we motored there I was dead to the world and took a nap. We arrived at Hannah Point under almost perfect skies, but by the time all of the zodiacs had been guided past Doug Cheeseman rock and onto shore clouds had arrived, and the elephant seals, penguins, petrels and other birds had to be viewed under cloudy skies and with cold winds blowing. I took a shift for forty-five minutes as giant petrel police, but Albert, Barbara, Clovis and Daryl weren’t huge attractions, so I had the time alone with the birds before returning to the ship.

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