26 January 2011
On Tuesday morning we left the dormant volcano’s crater where we’ve been anchored for the last 3 days. The wind had died down, and the water was very clear and barely rippled. A couple of chinstrap penguins leapt out of the water around us. The ceiling of the sky was also much higher, which allowed us to see the circle of mountains buttressing the volcano.
Two cruise ships were at anchor, carrying out their customary shuttling of people back and forth in the dinghies to the nearest beaches, disembarking their batches of tourists. A soft yellow light bathed this peaceful lake.
As on our arrival, we left the island by the same route The cliffs at the northern entry this time appeared much less hostile than a couple of days ago when we “landed” here in windy conditions, high seas and a snow storm. Compared to the previous anchorage at Brown Bluff, we saw very few penguins at Deception Island.
We are now passing by Snow Hill Island and occasionally, on the port side, we can see misty tops of the peninsula. Both engines are running, one reef on the foresail but none on the mainsail. There’s very little wind barely measuring 6 knots. In the coming days we expect first a southwesterly flux, which will then turn north. 20 to 30 knots.
The door to the Antarctic closes behind us as we pass Snow Hill. While discussing on the bridge after dinner with Hervé Bourmaud, our captain, and Edouard Leymarie, one of the 6 researchers on board for this leg, both confided their wish to return and explore more the White Continent. Of the 14 on board, there are 13 of us who are here for the first time. Lots of images and memories are already turning about in our heads. Lots of new wishes also, like discovering the west coast of the peninsula which in the end we didn’t manage to see at all. Our time was running out.
We are getting ready to recross the Drake Passage. Our arrival at Port Williams is still scheduled for next Saturday. The forecasted winds in the Beagle Channel could make for a tricky arrival and anchoring.