Wind and sea conditions look promising for our landing, and the snow fall adds a different feeling to the surroundings, making us aware of how the autumn is starting to arrive to Antarctica. Zodiacs are soon ready after breakfast, and we start with the operations to go ashore on that small island. Half Moon is a Crescent-shaped island 1.25 mi long, lying in the entrance to Moon Bay on the E side of Livingston Island. Sealers already knew it as early as 1821. The name, which suggests its shape, appears on a chart based upon a 1935 survey by the Discovery II expedition. Nowadays the island is home for the Argentine Base “Camara Station”, built in 1953 as a summer station. Besides the human presence, it also hosts a large Chinstrap Penguin colony and several nesting sites for Wilson Storm petrels, Kelp gulls, Antarctic terns and Antarctic shags. We land on the gentle surge of a gravel beach, again amongst numerous Fur seals, Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins, next to an old wooden whaling boat, from the early nineteen hundreds.
From there we explore the Eastern peninsula of the island, making our way between seals and penguin rookeries, to an elevated viewpoint over the bay where the Europa is at anchor, close to a Chinstrap colony. After a good look at them we discover a different penguin amongst the rest, its yellow feathers over the head and stubby brown beak tells us that is a Macaroni penguin. A single individual, part of the only couple that is seen regularly at this very same spot. Quite a special sight to see them in Antarctica as this species is typical from South Georgia Island, and just a very few individuals or pairs visit those higher latitudes.
After this surprise, we make our way back to the landing beach, where the zodiacs pick us up. Anchor is heaved and Europa starts her way towards the southern coast of Livingston Island, where we plan to explore a new site this afternoon. But as we approach the planned area, called Barnard Point, the southernmost point of Livingston Island we can feel the wind picking up and the swell increasing. Once close to the landingsite the wind blows 25 to more than 30 knots, and the Europa rolls in the swell.
The decision is taken to set canvas on this NNW wind and make our way under sail, broad reach on Starboard Tack, along the 16nm that separates us from Deception Island. On this way we plan to sail through the narrow entrance to the island, called Neptune’s Bellows, before dusk, drop anchor around the corner, at Whalers Bay, and spend the night there to land in the morning.
Inner Jib, Fore Top Mast Staysail, Dekzwabber and Desmond are set, together with both Lower Topsails and also the Fore Upper Top sail, reaching speeds of around 5 to 5.5 kn. At 18:00 we start engine as the wind became WSW, and we brace sharp to Starboard tack, sailing close hauled with Deception Island at sight and just around 7 miles to cover to the entrance of the volcanic caldera. But just a few minutes later the wind increases and its decided to take all canvas away and furl under 35 knts as we motor now our way. Reaching the shores of Deception Island about 19:30h, with gusting winds up to 30 kn, at that point we decide to drop anchor next to the Neptune’s Bellows, outside of Deception caldera, and go in tomorrow morning, ready to start our activities ashore. For second night on this trip the Europa enjoys a night at anchor, while voyage crew on voluntary anchor watches have a close eye at the wind conditions and the holding of our anchor. During the night we play the documentary “Unfurling the World” about Irving Johnson life and the sailing trips with his family around the planet.