Weather: Sunshine & good visibility – strong winds
Air temperature: +8°C
Today dawned clear and sunny, which was great for our last day en route to Ushuaia. We were making good progress, and during the morning, the seas calmed down slightly. Quite a lot of people were up and about for breakfast in The Restaurant and there was also a good turnout for Franz Gingele’s lecture at 10am on Antarctic Stations. Franz gave us a personal account of several science bases he had worked on with a talk that was humorous and entertaining as well as informative. He added photographs and anecdotes of other nation’s bases as well as those he had experienced personally, so we were able to get a wide-ranging impression of the different structures and activities on Antarctic stations throughout the continent.
After a break for a walk round deck, I (Victoria) set up for my lecture at 11.30am on Amundsen the Sportsman, Scott the Hero? This talk was an attempt to present the careers of two very different polar explorers, with a special focus on their race to the South Pole in 1910 – 1912. Amundsen the Norwegian skier and Scott the British Naval Captain were poles apart in personality and the exploration techniques they favoured. I tried to look at their expeditions realistically, to talk of the men who travelled with them to the uttermost part of the earth, as well as the two “Pole seekers” themselves.
It was certainly time for lunch by now, which was delicious as always. During lunch, the Prince Albert II entered the Beagle Channel and we picked up the Argentine pilot needed to escort us into Ushuaia at about 1.45pm. It was great to be in calm waters and know that we could pack our cases without pain!
At 3pm we gathered in The Theatre for the final lecture of the expedition: Chris Harbard speaking on the theme From Condors to Woodpeckers. This was most appropriate as we were approaching Tierra del Fuego and a range of birds quite distinct from those we had seen in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica.
Afternoon tea was served to the fine music of Perry and at 4.30pm we all met for the last time in The Theatre. The Expedition Team bade farewell to guests and Lu showed us the second half of her DVD, summarizing our experiences on the Antarctic Peninsula. It was a wonderful way to formally close our voyage.
Shortly after that, we docked in Ushuaia and by 6.45pm all clearance procedures had been completed and we were free to spend the evening ashore if we wished.
Nevertheless, many chose to spend their last cocktail hour with Perry in the Panorama Lounge and to enjoy our chef’s fine cooking one last time before heading into Ushuaia for an evening walk and nightcap in one of the local bars. Strange to be back in a place with green trees and shops! We left our suitcases outside our suites before retiring for the night, simultaneously delighted not to be rocking and rolling on the Drake Passage any longer, but also sad to be reaching the end of our Antarctic adventure.