Day 7 |
Mar 06, 2012

At Sea en route to Castro

By Robin Aiello, Marine Biologist

Co-ordinates: 45º 39’ S, 073º 50’ W
Weather: Overcast with intermittent rain showers
Air Temperature: 15ºC

As predicted, last night was rough – we had swells of about 5m and strong winds. At one point, in the early morning, the wind speeds reached about 44 knots! Conrad Combrink, our Expedition Leader had forewarned us about these conditions. In order to get to our next port of call (Castro) we had to sail out of the protection of the Chilean fjords and cross the Golfo de las Penas (translates into the Gulf of Sorrows), which is notorious for its rough seas.

But, despite the conditions outside, this ship handles the waves really well and most guests were up and about in the morning. I gave the first lecture of the day, starting at 10am with my talk all about Marine Mammal Adaptations – how whales, dolphins and seals survive living their entire lives in the ocean. The talk covered such things as how they move through the ocean so efficiently, how they keep warm in near-freezing waters, how they can hold their breath for so long, and how they can hear and see underwater.

After my talk, the Hotel Department put on a fun and interesting seminar on Food & Wine Pairing. About 20 guests gathered in the Panorama Lounge and tasted three different types of champagne (with delicious accompanying canapés) while the Sommelier discussed the various aspects of each of the drinks.

After lunch, Stefan Kredel, one of our geologists onboard, gave his first talk on Volcanism. During this talk he discussed the various types of volcanoes, how they form and what types of lavas they produce. He also discussed several examples of volcanic eruptions that have occurred in recent times.

The rest of the afternoon was very leisurely. The winds had died down and the seas were calming, and by 3pm we were once again back in the protection of the fjords. Throughout the afternoon several of us gathered out on deck to join Will Wagstaff, our ornithologist, spotting various seabirds as they soared by the back deck. Will spotted four different species of albatrosses – including the Northern Royal Albatross with a huge wingspan! The other petrels and shearwaters flying next to it were dwarfed in comparison!

Afternoon Tea in the Panorama Lounge was a lot of fun – for the past week we have been running Trivia Quizzes during most teatimes, hosted by the Expedition Team lecture staff. Today, Juan Carlos Restrepo presented his Trivia Quiz on the Ocean Realm. I actually learned a few facts that I did not know – but I cannot tell you here because it might give away one of the answers for future quizzes!

Since tonight was the Venetian Society Cocktail Party at 7pm, we moved Recap & Briefing up earlier to 5pm. Conrad had a lot to tell us about the days ahead. Tomorrow we are heading to Castro, and the next day to Puerto Montt. So it was good to get all the information about the various excursion options that we were participating in.

The Venetian Cocktail was a gala event, and everyone was elegantly dressed and in a fun party mode. The conversation flowed and as I mingled with the crowd I heard many fun stories and recollections from our voyage so far.