Dispatch: May 26, 2006

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Wind: SSE 20-25kn
Air Temp: -2.3°C Wind Chill: -22°C
Surface Water Temp: -0.938°C

Day's Menu: Beef pasties, chicken cordon bleu, broccoli, cauliflower, rice, salad, flan plus..;  Grilled cheese, French fries, salad, fruit, choc pudding, bars, cinnamon rolls and cookies.


» View additional images from today

Got the phone call around 10 a.m. to announce we’d be at Deception Island in an hour.  Not so much that I should be sleeping in, but it was a rocking kind of night (no rolling  but I haven’t mastered the head-to-foot motion yet).  Besides, I knew there would be no a.m. operations, since the last previous had been a bear of a trawl at 3 a.m. (clay-like mud), and the science people have worked the worknights into a ‘sleep in’-in-the-morning pattern lately.  The clock is turned upside down for them.

It was a clear, cold and windy day, but there were no atmospheric hindrances to the grand view of Neptune’s Bellows, the entryway to the harbor within the caldera, Port Foster.  Deception “Island” is actually a sunken volcano, a small opening in the wall of which made way for the ocean to enter and fill that caldera making it a mighty welcome port for whalers, sealers, adventurers, scientists and now, yes, even tourists.


From the Bridge, the narrow passage known as “Neptune’s Bellows”; 3rd Mate Larry Brissette and Captain Marty Galster navigate (Photo by Pam Polloni)

There’s no real shelter on land any more, but there are several structures left behind from days gone by, artifacts of the industries and professions that long preceded this traveler.  There are outbuildings, living quarters, an airplane hangar, huge oil tanks, wooden boat frames, an old tractor covered with lava rock up to its steering wheel  all abandoned, rusted or weatherbeaten now, but left to remind us of at least one place in these forbidding surroundings where humans had walked and attempted to tame the land to make a living, or in the realm of science, to make a difference.  The last time this volcano erupted was in 1967, and that marked the departure of the last homesteaders, a UK science station team.


Whaler’s Bay from Port Foster (the harbor inside the caldera) (Photo by E. Bailey)

The Deception Island stop was just eye candy for now, no going ashore.  But the light was just beautiful, the sun never clearing the landscape, but leaving just a glint of gold on the snowy peaks.  It is really, really cold out there (wind-driven), and our shutter fingers were put to the test.  ‘Crab traps’ were readied on the main deck for a later sampling plan, and that could not be done at sea, so we’ve just ducked in for the calm waters.


A couple of petrels, one a Snowy (shown here) and the other a Cape, have sought haven on the ship, first seen last night  they’re desperate for shelter and rest (or have they just hit a window??), enough to withstand humans pointing and clicking. (Photo by Pam Polloni)

At 4 p.m. we had steamed 10 miles northeast to a bay in McFarlane Strait, between Livingston and Greenwich Islands which will be the next science stop.  There’s a high pressure area in our midst, and the weather looks clear for the next couple of days.

Getting To Know You - The Beaufort Scale

There is a record sheet (probably one of many) on the Bridge that is filled out every 6 hours by whoever is at the helm.  One of the line items is for reporting the conditions on the water.  I noticed this and saw a “5” there.  Interested in the use of ‘on a scale of ’ means of evaluating a situation (like pain, beauty, temperature, ease of cultivation (for orchids!), etc.), I asked First Mate Joe Abshire for the skinny on this, and Joe introduced me to the Beaufort Scale.  Now I have my own copy, and can use the universal scale of 1-12 in assessing the wind conditions wherever I go.  This scale has 5 columns or categories: Force; Description; Sea State; Effects on Land; Speed (in mph).

Here are some examples.  You can probably Google this and see the entire chart that we use here, and captains and weather forecasters are probably using on the other side of the world as well.

0 = Calm; Sea like mirror; No wind, smoke rises vertically; speed of <1

3 = Gentle breeze; Large wavelets, crests begin to break, glassy foam, occasional white horses; Hair and clothing disturbed, light flag extended, leaves and small twigs move constantly; 8-12

7 = Moderate gale; Sea heaped up, white foam from breaking waves blowing in streaks; Some resistance to walking, whole trees move; 32-38

12 = Hurricane; Air filled with foam and spray, sea white with driving spray, visibility bad; don’t go out there, you fool; >72

So today was about a 5.  Oh, yeah, that’s what the log said!


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Last updated May 30, 2006
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