Places. Never had a problem heading south, tuck into caleta Martial just north of the horn and wait for a good window. It's only about 4 days across, and the first is in the windy belt. The RCA has a great PDF cruising guide for antarctica, study that for places and specifics. First stop was Deception Island. The anchorages
are all inside an old crator. Awesome place and still volcanic. There are hot springs on one of the beaches to the NE of the crator. On the western side is a set of small crators that offer the most "secure" anchorage. But the whole place is made up of volcanic ash and holding is very very poor. Shore lines offer the best security
but there is a lack of big rocks to tie to. Early in the season fast ice can be a problem, and loose ice in the bay is a pain. The whole of the south shetlands is a wind
funnel. Often it's blowing hard through deception and the sheltlands but a 100 miles south in the banana belt it's balmy and calm. Watch the gribs or you can get trapped in deception. If in doubt skip it and head
south to enterprize island, the first secure anchorage on the way.
The banana belt runs from about enterprize through to vernadski south of lemaire. This area gets less wind and has reasonably secure anchorages
Enterprize Island has the wreck of an old whaling ship, which you can tie up to. It is secure in all conditions and resonably free of ice movement. It makes the best place to rest after the drake, and is one of the few places in the north where good sleep is possible. Busy, a constant flow of vessels raft up, and then leave. Melt water
can be collected here if needed.
Port Lockroy is another popular spot with the old brittish base being used as a visitor centre. The anchorage is large but has poor holding in most spots. The good ones will have charter
boats guarding them. In the NE corner there are a series of sunken morane ridges at about 15m depth
from memory. Use your sounder to drop the pick between them in the deeper water
. Cross your fingers and do not attempt to set the anchor
with any force because it will drag out of position. Let it settle for a while and with luck it will hold. This follows for everywhere in antarctica, maybe the next gen anchors do better than the old CQR
, but holding is crap at best. Anchor watches are important, not only for anchors dragging but to fend of ice, or move if a bigger piece comes your way. Shorelines are a mixed blessing, making it much harder to leave and catching any ice that comes through.
Paradise Hbr is lovely, it can have lots of ice about, but well worth a visit. There is a good anchorage I call the hall of the mountian King because of the forboding atmosphere. It had a big serac overhanging the bay, if that dropped...
Palmer Station is interesting, best to aviod the station and anchor of the islands to teh west.lots of elephant seals
on lichens make it different to the other anchorages. A fair bit of ice calves from the glaciers and a slight swell makes life interesting at times.
Lemaire is stunning. Just south lies petterman Islands, one of the best spots but the entry is very tricky through uncharted waters, you tuck up into one of a few rocky channels, the entrances are only 10m wide with underwater rocks. Scout it by dingy first. There is the possibility of being trapped by ice if it blocks the escape route! Got chased by a leopard
seal while kayaking around the islets. Scary...
Vernadski Is the russian base to the south of Petterman Islands. Very secure, tucked into a series of "creeks" inside the island group. Shore lines are essential and it gets busy. I think there was about 7 yachts in there one day.
South of vernadski is pretty devoid of good secure anchorages and the ice is heavier, or so I am told. We didn't have time on our 24 day charters to get down there, but apparently it's pretty tough.
There are many other anchorages, but most of them are not very secure in any wind, or are exposed to Ice. In settled conditions you can really explore. I have left of the island group to the west of enterprize Is, cant remember it's name (edit melchior Islands). Often used instead of enterprise as a first point of arrival and departure. I stopped there once. Seemed OK tucked in the creek to the north.
is interesting with no reliable charts
(as of 2007) all your datums are out so GPS
is unreliable. We had lots of second trace returns causing the GPS
to frequently jump a few 100 meters out and then jump back. The guy that taught me was a mountaineer so he taught me to recognise the mountains and navigate from them. Very easy to get lost
if you arent paying attention.
Heading home is harder than heading south. The angle is worse, and cape horn is about five days away, so picking the window to get there is harder. Of the three trips I did down and back we had 2 good ones home, and one bad one. We normally left from palmer or the melchiors to get some more westing under our belt. Get westing when possible, because as you approach the horn the current
sweeps you down then the NNW wind can make it very hard to lay the horn.. and its a big ocean to leeward.