Taking the Polar PlungeAdventure Travel, Antarctica, Cruise, Extras, Lost Girls, Wildlife & Animals — By Lost Girls on May 15, 2008 at 1:12 pm
Maybe we were on a natural high after surviving the Drake Passage, or maybe all that fresh Antarctic air went straight to our heads, but almost every passenger on our voyage took a (polar) plunge and joined the Antarctic Swim Team.
As our ship headed to Whaler’s Bay, Deception Island, in the South Shetlands, we scored our first big wildlife viewings as humpback whales flaunted their acrobatic skills by breaching over twenty times. Penguins also shot out of the water all around the ship like shiny black-and-white bullets.
We watched from the bridge as our captain skillfully navigated the narrow crossing into Neptune’s Bellows, which was formed when the walls of a volcano collapsed. As we boarded the zodiacs to go ashore, our expedition leader announced that the volcano was still active-but that he didn’t think it would erupt today. We weren’t exactly convinced: Mother Nature and Antarctica were proving to be anything but predictable.
Still, that didn’t stop expedition mates from exploring the broken-down wooden buildings left behind from an old whaling station; watching the fur seals that made a home in the remnants of an abandoned rendering tank; or climbing a steep slope up to the break in the caldera wall known as Neptune’s Window.
Sulfurous clouds lingered above the shoreline as evidence that hot lava flowed beneath our feet. And so the debauchery began: The expedition team dug a hot-water pool on the beach as voyagers peeled away seemingly endless layers of snow pants, fleece jackets, long johns, wool socks, and rubber boots.
Jumping into the frigid ocean was enough to make your heart stop-and going underwater was required in order for the Antarctic plunge to “count.” Sprinting into the hot-water pool afterwards surprisingly burnt our toes. While most took the plunge in bathing suits or underwear, two brave (a.k.a. insane) souls actually stripped down naked. Besides bragging rights, we’d scored a surefire conversation starter: Nothing beats a story about a brisk Antarctic skinny dip at a dinner party.
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