Day 10 |
Mar 22, 2012

At Sea in the Drake Passage, en route to Ushuaia

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist lecturer

Co-ordinates: 58 45 10 S, 62 42 59W
Weather: Partly overcast with some sun and little wind
Air Temperature: 0ºC

I cannot believe how lucky we have been with this Drake Passage. Within the industry we say that the Drake has two moods – the “Drake Shake” and the “Drake Lake”. Fortunately for all of us this passage has been the latter one!!!

We had made such good time crossing from the Antarctic Peninsula that we reached the shelter of the Beagle Channel in the early morning, which is a good thing given that the online weather maps show that there would be some rough seas in the Drake Passage later in the day. So, thankfully we missed that!

I was the first lecture of the day, with my talk about the four months that I spent living in tents on the Ross Sea side of Antarctica, diving under the ice as part of a research expedition looking to find polar jellyfish. It is a fun lecture about coping in some very awkward situations as the only female in charge of a team of 5 male research divers in some pretty close quarters and extreme weather conditions.

Later in the morning, at 11:30am, Peter Damisch was to give the second and last part of his Shackleton lecture entitled “Shackleton, Enduring Quest”. However, due to computer technical malfunctions, the lecture was postponed until 4:45pm. When Peter finally got his chance to talk, it was an amazing lecture. Peter, yesterday, had set the stage and left us in suspense as to what was going to happen on Shackleton’s efforts to save his crew who were stranded on Elephant Island. But today, Peter finished the story and we were all hanging on his words to see how this would turn out. Amazing story of endurance and strength of character!

After lunch, Ray Stranagan, our onboard videographer/photographer, played the video that he has been busy editing all trip. It was a beautiful production, and we had a great time remembering all the highlights of our 10-day adventure.

As the final activity for the day, Conrad Combrink auctioned off a chart of our route – beautifully decorated by one of the crew with penguins and whales. Our onboard Navigator had also drawn on the route. This is a great souvenir of the voyage, and the auction was active. It came down to two keen guests who battled it out, until one won! (All proceeds go to the Crew Welfare Fund.)

By 6:30pm the ship was alongside and the gangway lowered into place. Within only a few minutes the Argentinean officials had given us clearance and guests started to wander off for a look around the quaint town of Ushuaia. There has been some recent snowfall here, and the backdrop of mountaintops was tipped with white snow, which glistened as the sun set and night fell. What a stunning end to a great journey!!!!