Day 10 |
Dec 17, 2010

 Drake Passage 

By by Rich Kirchner/ General Naturalist


Co-ordinates: 57˚51’ S, 64˚52’ W at 8:30 pm
Weather: Overcast early, clearing skies in the evening, moderate winds and seas
Air Temperature: 36.6F at 8:30 pm
Sea Temperature: 41F at 8:30 pm

During the night I awoke to some rocking and rolling of the ship as we made our way north through the southern part of the Drake Passage. This being my 84th crossing of the Drake, I’ve seen it better, but also much worse!

I took the opportunity to sleep in a little later and catch up on some needed rest after a very busy trip to the Antarctic Peninsula. “Busy” also meant that it was a very successful trip with lots of activities and good weather. Most guests seemed to be taking it easy this morning also, some fighting with some mild sea-sickness.

At ten o’clock this morning our historian, Victoria Salem, lectured about the Antarctic Treaty and some of the different acts regarding the protection of this precious continent. It was very enlightening and informative. There was also a cooking demonstration by our head chef this morning in the Panorama Lounge.

There were the usual Cape Petrels following the ship, and a few Black-browed Albatross making an appearance from time to time, off the back of the ship. I had been hoping to have more albatross following us, but didn’t seem to be happening this morning. So, I decided to head to lunch and maybe check again later. Having barely sat down with my plate of food, I looked out the window to see a pair of my favorite sea birds, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross. Gobbling down lunch, and excusing myself from the table, I hurried to my stateroom, grabbed coat, hat, gloves and of course camera, and got out on deck as quickly as possible! These magnificent birds don’t always hang around for very long, and I did not want to miss the opportunity, as they were very close to the ship. To my surprise, four of these beautiful birds were now flying close-in, and I was rewarded with several excellent photos!

Later in the afternoon, Marylou Blakeslee gave a lecture on krill, the tiny crustaceans that are the center of the entire Antarctic and Southern Ocean food chain. After that, our geologist, Franz Gingele, gave a talk entitled “Antarctic Oasis”, about the small percentage of the continent that remains ice-free, and how it does so.

Finally, the last of the day’s activities arrived just before dinner: the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party. Captain Peter Stahlberg took the opportunity to thank the guests for coming on this wonderful trip, as well as to introduce and thank many of the crew for their dedication and hard work. He ended with a toast, and then it was off to dinner and hopefully another good night’s rest!