Day 1 |
Jan 07, 2010

Ushuaia, Argentina

By Claudia Holgate, Climatologist

Co-ordinates: 54o 48.621’S 68o 17.923’W

Weather: Calm partly overcast conditions, clearing later

Air Temperature: 6C

Pressure: 990HPa

Today we are in Ushuaia and for us this is a “Turnaround day” which means that we disembark the guests that we have spent the last two and a half weeks with and embark the guests for the new adventure. It is always a day of mixed feelings, as we hug our new friends goodbye and wish them a safe journey home and we welcome the new guests who are filled with anticipation and some uncertainty.

We often get asked what the Drake Passage will be like and what the weather has in store. My standard answer is that we use the weather forecast for entertainment purposes only. This of course doesn’t give me a lot of credibility as a climatologist, however, the conditions that we experience in the Antarctic are so transient that it can be clear and sunny in the morning and be a howling blizzard within half an hour. Nonetheless, the forecast for the first bit of the Drake looks very promising.

Our guests arrived later than expected due to a delay with the flights, which allowed me to nip into town and get a few things for the next trip and to say hello to friends working on another ship in port. Ushuaia is such a wonderful city (town would be closer to the mark though). It is set on the Beagle Channel with the Andes as a backdrop and one doesn’t get much more spectacular than this – except for where we are going, of course.

Late in the afternoon, the guests all arrived safely and we went through the process of checking them in, taking photos and welcoming them to this great little ship that is to be their home for the next eleven days and which will take them to the last great wilderness of Antarctica.

We sailed away at about 6pm and everyone was out on deck watching as the sailors cast off the lines. It is always an emotional moment when we leave the pier and the Captain blows the ships horn. Even for Expedition Team, who have done this many times there is a feeling of excitement and anticipation.

Shortly after leaving, we have a mandatory lifeboat and safety drill in case of emergency and then our new guests are treated to a fantastic meal prepared by our executive chef from Canada, Douglas Hope, in The Restaurant, where we could all watch the calm Beagle Channel and imagine the journey that awaits.