Day 10 |
Jan 27, 2010

Drake Passage

By Fritz Jantschke, Zoologist

Co-ordinates: 59 43’S – 64 48’W

Weather:  mostly overcast to bright sunshine, windy to calm

At night, the voyage has been quite rough. In the morning we still have strong winds and waves of more than five meters – not a pleasant weather for someone like me normally living on land. But I manage to get out to the Observation Lounge at 6:30, when continental breakfast is served. After orange juice, coffee and some rolls I feel strong enough to tackle the day. Only one or two guests and colleagues are joining me within the first hour. However, the sea gradually calms down, and I am rewarded with the first giant petrel and black-browed albatross gliding by effortlessly.

The first lecture of the day is an account by Gennadi on science in the Antarctic, focussing on his work as physicist and station master of the Vernadsky station we visited two days ago. In spite of the rough conditions almost half of the guests are attending. The lecture by Peter in the later part of the morning has an even higher attendance. His narration on the adventures of Ernest Shackleton is not only interesting, but also presented in a most entertaining manner. While we are busy cleaning the boots in the mud room to get them ready for future tours and landings, the passengers are entertained at best – and have little desire to spend a chilly time on deck to look out for sea birds or some odd whale blow in the distance.

In the afternoon, geologist David, who had come to the Antarctic as early as 1961 and spent a lot of his research and scientific life in this remote area of the world, gives a highly interesting lecture about the fantastic fossils found here – depicting the great and very changing history of the seventh continent. While the weather improves more and more in the course of the afternoon the number of birds following the ship is increasing, mostly giant petrels and different albatrosses – including even a grey-headed. So the hardier of the guests spend quite a bit of time out on deck enjoying the scenery and wildlife.

Towards the evening the birdlife around the ship is getting better every minute, corresponding with the weather conditions. It is hard to go inside for the Briefing & Recap, but all the guests are rewarded with some entertaining, touching and funny details about our voyage. And at dinner time, we are enjoying a most lovely atmosphere with the sun gradually setting and plenty of birds circling around the ship. So the first day in the Drake has been quite enjoyable and ends in a pleasant mood and atmosphere, with Cape Hoorn and the Beagle Channel already almost in sight – and thus the end of another great journey.