A great day in Deception Island. Once everyone had slept off the previous nights sail in snow and sleet we got all three dinghies in the water for the first time ready for exploring. James stayed on Elinca while everyone else headed for the burnt out British base at Pendulum Cove, about a twenty minute boat ride away.
It is amazing how much better the Deception Island crater looked when you can actually see the land around the edge. It is about three miles across and the previous night we had only been able to see 200 metres. Much respect to James for his navigation in poor visibility. The charts in this area are fairly primitive and very often whole islands are up to half a mile out of position. You cannot use the GPS as a main navigation tool as you would in Europe so you have to use radar to get an accurate position. That sounds easy but it can be very confusing. Imagine trying to find your way around a town with just a map showing where the chimney pots are.
Ashore at Pendulum Cove most of us wandered around the base area while Clare got on with the serious business of digging out a hole in the beach for a warm bath. The base is really just a series of foundations with fragments of the structures sticking up. The remaining bits of timber get blasted by the volcanic ash in strong winds giving a sculptured finish that fashionable Californian households would pay a fortune for. Meanwhile the structural engineers discussed the various failure modes of the lattice girders.
Back at the beach everyone except two of the “Saga” crew had a wash in the mixed hot and cold water, coming out rather dirtier than they went in. The ash gets everywhere. Nick and Torsten were last out having been detained by cigars and a bottle of warm rum.
James brought Elinca across to Pendulum Bay by himself and then waited while the dinghies brought the crew back on board. A quick motor around the headland towing the dinghies bought us to Whalers Bay, the site of a large whaling station and more recently a British scientific base. Again all three boats ashore so that people could wander amongst the industrial archeology. Amongst the more obvious oil tanks and boilers there are fascinating glimpses of the past. My favourites were the two large heaps of wood which on closer inspection turned out to be the remains of several hundred wooden barrels. We all know that they used the barrels to ship seal oil and other products but why leave hundreds of expensive barrels on the beach?
Eventually everyone got back to Elinca and we set sail for Enterprise Harbour after a warming supper. Again the cloud came down and we still have not seen what the Deception Island entrance looks like. An overnight sail in light winds dodging icebergs is again a typical day at 64 degrees south.