Day 2 |
Mar 10, 2010

At Sea, Crossing The Drake Passage

By Chris Srigley, General Naturalist

Weather: Sunny with a slight swell

The first rule of any expedition, especially one travelling through the southern ocean, is to throw out any schedule that you may have thought would be followed. This morning, following this rule, we are heading south towards the Antarctic Peninsula rather than our intended course that would have placed us in the Falkland Islands tomorrow morning.

It was the impending weather patterns that made this decision for us really; any sensible person could see we would be heading for some rough seas if we had continued as planned. Together with Captain Aleksander Golubev, our Expedition Leader Robin West quickly pulled together a new itinerary and set it in motion.

With the Prince Albert II rolling steadily through the early morning hours, The Restaurant was a ghost town for breakfast. The room service team however was run off its feet as those who didn’t feel well enough to venture far from their suites ordered in. As the morning progressed, the winds died down and the swell subsided.

Just before 10:00 the decision was made that we would air our IAATO and Zodiac briefings over the ships TVs so those of us in the prone position would be able to remain comfortable. Those that felt well enough gathered in The Theatre with Robin to learn the rules of the road in Antarctica. You could sense at its completion that our guests could hardly wait for our Zodiac operations to begin!

Once Robin had finished I quickly hit the outer decks in hopes of some wildlife sightings and I wasn’t disappointed. Although low in numbers several of the guests and I viewed wandering albatross, Wilson’s storm-petrels, giant petrels, light-mantled sooty and black-browed albatross within a short period of time. Later on I had some fantastic views of Soft-plumage petrels and sooty shearwaters before heading indoors.

Reconvening in The Theatre, we joined Juan Carlos for his talk ‘Glacier Ice’. It’s always a pleasure to listen to Juan. He took us through a glacier’s journey from its birth as a snowflake falling to its death as an iceberg disintegrating in the Southern Ocean. Not the average person’s topic, Juan brings it across in such a way that we can all understand.

By noontime the scattered clouds had vanished and the sun warmed the decks as the seas continued to smooth. What seemed only hours ago to not have been likely to happen today was now a reality. As I entered The Restaurant for lunch it was obvious this change had had a profound effect on our guests. The Restaurant was buzzing as they emerged from their suites. I quickly grabbed my binoculars and made for the outside decks after lunch. You just never know what you might see in such a vast ocean.

Shortly after lunch our onboard historian Peter Damisch invited us into The Theatre for a talk called ‘Ice Ageless, Search for the Continent’ about the explorers who had blazed the trail to discovering Antarctica and whose footsteps we would be following. From the moment Peter began to speak, his passion for his topic was evident.

Soon it was time for another pilgrimage to TheTheatre. At 1700 South African photographer Malindi Strydom would take us through her compositional and technical advice for landscape and wildlife photography in Antarctica with ‘Getting Started’. No one wants to go home with photographs from Antarctica that haven’t turned out properly, and with Malindi’s advice we are all sure to stun our friends with our home movies of this voyage.

With an hour or so to kill once Malindi had wrapped up her talk, most headed back to their suites to shower and prepare for our evening’s big event. Invitations had been received, suits had been pressed and the cocktails were being poured for the Captain’s Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party where Captain Aleksander Golubev welcomed all guests onboard the Prince Albert II for an exciting voyage of discovery through the Southern Ocean.

Finishing our cocktails, we left The Theatre behind in exchange for the warm welcome of Maitre d’Hotel Uta Rickert in The Restaurant where we enjoyed a superbly presented meal prepared by our Executive Chef Douglas Hope and his galley team. A wonderful evening of great company, fine wines and melt-in-your-mouth cuisine… what better way to start our trip? This is exactly what Silversea is all about.