I always find it sad to wake up with Antarctica behind us, and just the vast Southern Ocean ahead. Judging by conversations throughout the day, most of us are feeling this way.
The calm, ice-dampened waters inside the Antarctic islands have been replaced this morning by the sombre grey sea of the Drake Passage, and the seabirds are returning to follow the ship as we head north from the continent to Ushuaia.
First up: Victoria, our history lecturer, gave us her take on the Amundsen/Scott race for the South Pole, and what they achieved in the longer term. Shortly afterwards, our capable Expedition Leader Robin West gave an interesting presentation on the extensive refit that the Prince Albert II underwent earlier in the year.
Just before lunch, it was time for the gumboot brigade to swing into gear, collect and clean the borrowed ship’s gumboots – the utilitarian footwear of the great frozen southern land. Following the usual superb lunch, Chris Harbard our birder, gave a fascinating lecture on Albatrosses, Mollymawks and goonies – the largest and longest lived of the seabirds. Late afternoon, our Executive Chef Sean and our Head Sommelier Vanja ran a cooking and wine pairing demonstration and tasting for all of us to enjoy and learn from.
At 7pm, those of us that had our ‘sea legs’ joined Captain Peter Stahlberg for his farewell cocktail party. The Captain also gave us his take on the Drake Passage crossing that lay ahead, and indicated his desire to make up some time given the potentially rough seas ahead near Cape Horn. While the weather outlook will be dreaded by those laid low by motion sickness, it’s clear the Captain continues to work hard for everybody’s benefit. Afterwards, we joined the Captain’s farewell dinner. For most, it was an early night to bed, still catching up on sleep from the remarkable last days in Antarctica.