The “journey home” to Ushuaia through the Drake Strait was a bit busier this time. We had many seasick people and were well occupied in the medical centre. We were well compensated for this, especially as we had an overnight stay and the ship had invited the entire crew to a typical Argentinian asado grill restaurant. Of course, we didn’t miss out on that.
The next day we set off again. This time to new places on the Antarctic Peninsula.
I found Deception Island very impressive. This is a volcanic crater whose walls have collapsed into a caldera and form a natural harbour. The entrance is only a few hundred metres wide, so a relatively sheltered bay has been formed. The water temperature is about 10°C higher than the surrounding ocean because the volcanic activity underground acts like a heater. The last eruption was in 1970. The steam at the beach is not mist, but real water vapour, which evaporates the water near the beach due to the hot sand. If you dig a hole in the sand with your hands, it gets really warm at a depth of 10 cm at the latest. In the past, whalers, explorers and tourists dug a pool on the beach that heated up to 60 °C. They had to keep digging fresh seawater. They had to keep running in fresh seawater or exchanging it to cool the natural whirlpool. In the meantime, this has been banned because of environmental protection.
There used to be a whaling station on Deception Island, the remains of which can still be found today. Later, several countries set up research stations. Today it is mainly a tourist destination. Up on the edge of Neptune’s Window, it almost blew me away. The wind almost always blows strongly towards the precipice to the sea. A leopard seal was lying on the beach, but was not bothered by us.
The first shore leave on the Antarctic continent, not on an island as before.
The whiskey: 18 years old, the ice smuggled onto the ship (it wasn’t me!): 10,000 years old.
Remnants of a whaling station. My boot for size comparison.
Changing of the guard after four months. My nurse is flying home again. It’s a long way to Manila. On the next few trips, Nurse Vicky from Glasgow, who challenges me like no one else, helps me to understand her. We end up on another point on the Antarctic mainland again. Besides, the salad bar is proof that we also eat healthy (at least there is the possibility).
Departure for the final episode in Antarctica. We land on geologically interesting rock formations on the mainland and find copper ore protruding from the surface. We also encountered whales on the way. Weaving between the icebergs in the Zodiac inflatable boat always gives you a thrill, especially as you should keep a good distance in case an iceberg breaks or at least a large piece of it falls off. We have experienced this several times from a safe distance. The waves are dangerous for an inflatable boat if you are too close.
After four months in the Antarctic summer, which felt more like a European winter, I am looking forward to spring in my Azores island paradise. After a wild trip across the Drake Passage, the return journey from Ushuaia via Buenos Aries, Madrid, Lisbon and Ponta Delgada took another three days. Then I was finally back home on Santa Maria.