A Swim In Antarctica? Are We Mad?!

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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MS Expedition

Flag of Antarctica  ,
Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hearts racing we pulled off our clothes, handed Heather's camera to an English chap we had been talking to and ran across the tiny black volcanic pebbles and into the COLDEST, water you could EVER experience in a lifetime. Are we mad?! Probably! It seemed a good idea at the time. The water in the bay on Deception Island is (supposed to be!) slightly warmer, as there is a trickle of steamy water arriving to the ocean from a fresh water geothermal spring. It heats the black mud a little and causes steam as it hits the icy ocean. It has become a bit of a tradition for expedition guests to brave the water. Well the geothermal waters effect had definitely been cancelled out - maybe our big toes experienced a milli - second of warmth, then it was all a cold shock after that. We ran in, dived and felt an immense shock that froze the scream in our lungs. It was turn around and run straight out again, yelling and whooping, as soon as we found our frozen voices again.

The ship crew had brought a bag of towels for us to grab as we ran out. Some braver souls sat in the slightly warmer mud for pictures but then as they were covered in mud had to go back in again and they said that was way worse than the first time! Not for us - it was a quick towel down, some pictures taken with the snow in the background and then getting our clothes and rubber boots back on in record quick time, as the wind chill factor on our bodies was beyond description! Although the temp on the beach in fact felt warmer than being in the water. As the zodiac zipped us back across the bayr we felt a sense of elation and strangely, warmer than before, as we had felt the contrast of being so unbelievably cold.

A wonderful surprise awaited us as we climbed out the zodiac and into the mud room to disrobe our wet weather gear and boots. The wonderful staff had set up a hot chocolate urn and were serving, only to those who had braved the swim, a mug of hot chocolate, laced with peppermint liquor and topped with whipped cream. The steam from the hot chocolate warmed our frozen noses and hands and just imagine -  the smell! We will probably always remember in the future when we smell hot chocolate, this moment of inhaling the aroma of hot chocolate and peppermint and how good we felt, for doing something so crazy, as swimming in Antarctica!   

Earlier in the day we had been on deck to watch the navigation into Whaler's Bay at Deception Island. The Island is horseshoe shaped with a narrow entry called Neptune's Bellows where vessels leave the sometimes huge seas and enter the peaceful calm water of the bay. Quite heavy fog had set in but we soon could see the remains of the past human history of this interesting place. The island is in fact the rim of a volcano which erupted big time in 1967 causing the evacuation of all the British research station scientists. Huge rocks rained down on the buildings and ash cloud obliterated all vision. They were all saved by a Chilean vessel and the station was never again manned, after that, as most buildings sustained massive damage. The Island also has relics from its days of sealing and then whaling operations of various countries. 

On arrival by zodiac, we had hiked through the snow to a vantage point called Neptune's Window. Quite a climb again through soft snow, but exhilarating to reach the top and and enjoy a view. We then wandered around the relics enjoying the sense of history. Then our swim - what a day!
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aaron and bec on

Bloody mad alright.......................but hey i'd jump in too :)

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