18 March 2012
Our final day in Antarctica and we were woken up at 5.30 am to see us come into Deception Island and sail into the crater of a volcano. It was pretty stunning.
Our first landing of the morning was at 7.30, before breakfast. Once we arrived at Whaler’s Bay we say all of the old whaling station buildings – now derelict – but with the combination of volcanic black sand, white snow and derelict buildings – the landscape was the perfect setting for black and white photos – the pictures look like sketches.
The buildings were home to a number of fur seals who didn’t like us walking on their beach and chased us – they can really move on their front flippers, so I turned back towards the landing site as I needed to get ready for my polar plunge.
The only other wildlife was a number of Skuas eating from the shore, and one of the expedition crew showed us the krill they were eating – lifesource of Antarctica – a funny prawn shaped thing – had to have a photo.
At about 8.15 the swimming started and I was returning to the site. I thought I was going to be too late as I could see people starting to get out of the water but the expedition team said I had time. Without thinking too much about it I started to strip down to my bikini but it was so cold I couldn’t get rid of the Tshirt and my beannie also stayed on.
I gave David my camera and could see Cathy also taking pictures – would need evidence, and ran straight in – to about shoulder height – wouldn’t put my head under. With adrenalin pumping I can’t even remember the cold – I know it was – I turned and ran back out. By this stage, with frozen fingers it was hard to put all the layers back on. I stood with my feet in the snow putting on top layers – until Lucas (expedition team) came over and made me stand on the wellies. My knees were an interesting shade of blueish purple. Toes had gone yellow and numb. My clothes were on as best as I could manage and we buried the wellies in the volcanic sand waiting for a zodiac. Apparently it was warmer than snow but I didn’t feel it.
Back on the ship I went straight for my cabin. My shower was amazing – though it actually hurt a bit as I started to thaw out.
I had my first hot cooked breakfast of the trip and boy did it taste good, as the realisation that I swam in Antarctica (it still counts even though it was an island off the continent).