Day 1 |
Feb 20, 2010

Moored At, Then Underway From Ushuaia, Argentina

By Peter W. Damisch – Historian, General Naturalist & Cartographer

Coordinates: 54° 48' S, 068° 18’ W

Weather: Overcast early, then clearing through the day

Air Temperature: +7o C (45o F)

Sea Temperature: +5o C (42o F)

Pressure: 1,010 Hpa

Wind: 35 Km / hour

This morning I awoke to find that a light dusting of snow had ‘sugar coated’ the tall Andes mountains that surround the picturesque little town of Ushuaia. This delightfully fun and growing city likes to describe itself with great justification as being located at ‘El Fin del Mundo’ or the end of the world. Later in the day during departure I spoke with one couple who responded positively when I suggested that the area looks quite similar to Juneau, Alaska; with both towns serenely located between stunning mountains and the sea and a tree line clearly visible partway up the slopes.

Disembarkation day for any voyage is always a somewhat sad affair as I had breakfast with many friends who had shared such a great vacation experience over the past week and one half. There was still time for one more photograph and to answer additional interesting questions about history, ornithology, penguin behavior, marine mammals or geology. But all too soon it was time to say goodbye as our guests from Voyage 7004 who traveled from literally dozens of countries around the world and then departed today in order to return their homes.

I had taken the opportunity to ask some of our guests what they would later tell their friends, neighbors and families when asked ‘what was Antarctica like?’ The most common answer that I received was that the experience was so awe inspiring that it was almost impossible to accurately describe and the images / video did not do justice to the reality. They continued to explain that they would go back and both encourage everyone to come on a ‘trip of a lifetime’ as well as return to serve as a spokesperson for the continued protection of this one great and unique polar wilderness.

During a brief break in the late morning, the Expedition Team continued a tradition of traveling into town for breakfast to review both the prior voyage highlights and to plan on how to provide even better support for the next group of new guests who would soon board with another set of interesting questions and wonder in their eyes.

Early in the afternoon I helped our new guests to get settled on board by assisting in the creation of picture identification cards. These are then utilized for multiple purposes, one important one being the safety tracking of guest locations while we make landings in the Antarctic. 

Afterwards I proceeded to the Panorama Lounge where many guests were having a bit of refreshments after arriving on board the Prince Albert II. As usual, I found interesting guests from a wide variety of countries, more than 2 dozen at first count and ages ranging from 20s to 80s.

Soon after participating in the Mandatory Safety Briefing I was out in the sunshine on board the outer deck as the Prince Albert II sailed away from the dock en route to the Beagle Channel, named after the vessel utilized by Darwin who had spent a great deal of time in this area before proceeding up the coast of Chile towards the Galapagos Islands. Even at this early stage of the voyage, we were already beginning to see Albatross, Penguins and Terns near or following our little ship.

After introductions of Ship’s Staff and Expedition Team, the end of the evening saw me polishing up my presentation scheduled for tomorrow titled “Falkland Islands:  Tale of Intrigue and Tail of Sheep”. I hope this humorous but informative program will provide a great introduction to our first destination on the following day. 

We are off on our adventure to cover a wide and ecologically diverse area whose list of observed species should prove to be quite large and varied over the next 17 exciting days!