Dispatch: May 27, 2006
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.
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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.
From the Bridge, the narrow passage known
as "Neptune's Bellows"; 3rd Mate Larry Brissette
and Captain Marty Galster navigate. (Photo by Pam Polloni)
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.
Whaler's Bay from Port Foster (the harbor inside the caldera).
(Photo by Ellen Bailey)
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.
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)
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.
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
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
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;
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
So today was about a 5. Oh, yeah, that's what the log said!
We are traveling somewhere south of St. George Island (yes,
we've gone north from where we were a couple of days ago -
all part of The Plan), but between snow showers were able
to see the coast of Antarctica today. You can tell it's The
Continent because…. well, actually you can't tell it
from most of the other landscape here, but the chart says
that's what we're seeing when we look east. It does make you
pause to know what you're looking at.