Even though we have all the latest charts on board, most of the dates of the surveys are more than one-hundred years old. Soundings only appear near research bases and sites of old whaling stations. With the water being clear and 500 foot deep icebergs, floating around indicating deep water, safe navigation was possible. Tide prediction is a different matter. With no tide tables available we have to rely on our visual observations to determine the state of the tide. Not being helped by the erratic behavior of the tide.
By the end of the following day we were making our way through Neptune's Bellows, a narrow passage leading into the center of Deception Island. Right behind the schooner Anne appeared another sailing vessel, and we thought we were all alone! It's the French boat, Matahiva, a 42 foot steel cutter that's designed specially to cruise the extreme high latitudes. On board, three French meteorologists had just sailed from Ushuaia in southern Chile. We ended up anchoring together in Whalers Bay, in front of the destroyed Norwegian whaling station.
The whaling station at Whalers Bay, established in 1910, operated until 1931 when its lease expired. In the picture at the left can be seen remains of either old fuel storage tanks or tanks used for the storage of whale oil. Nearby, fifteen years later, the British established the first scientific base on Deception Island. Mud flows from a volcanic eruption destroyed most of the base in February 1969. The fuselage of a De Haviland Otter, and a hangar that contains its wings and engine, was all that remained in February 1987. The beach next to the ruins produced plumes of steam at low tide and the water appeared unusually warm. The Island lives up to its name appearing as barren rock but mostly covered with glaciers. Volcanic ash gives it this appearance.