Day 2 |
Dec 23, 2008

At Sea

By Chris Srigley

Noon Position: 5718’87S, 6413’07W

As we left the Beagle Channel last night, a slight swell came to greet us, however we had a comfortable ride for our first night onboard the Prince Albert II. By the time we gathered for breakfast this morning, winds were at a calm 15 knots with a rising swell all coming from the stern. Standing at the bow on The Observation Deck, temperatures at 6C (44F) were quite pleasant. Sheltered from the wind, it was hard to believe it was the Drake Passage we were crossing.

Building up excitement for our journey to the great white continent, Chris Harbard, our ornithologist, invited us up to The Theatre for the first of many informative talks put on by the lecture staff. Chris’s talk entitled “Penguins” took us through the many species, which ones we were likely to see and the habitats in which they live. Many of us were very surprised when Chris mentioned the Humbolt Penguin and its home near the equator. For most associate penguins with Antarctica, not the warm temperatures near the equator.

Upon the completion of his lecture, a great number of us joined Chris on the back deck to view several juvenile Wandering Albatross, Southern Giant Petrels, Black-Browed Albatross, Cape Petrels, Wilson Storm Petrels and Antarctic Prions. Just a few of the species we hope to be fortunate enough to see.

Engrossed with the birds, many had a hard time pulling away from the wonderful weather to join Victoria Salem in The Theatre for a talk entitled “Shackleton”. A journey through the life of Sir Ernest Shackleton, most noted for his failed Endurance expedition of 1914-1917, known to be one of man’s greatest stories of survival.

During Victoria’s lecture, the winds had begun to increase, rising from the morning’s 15 knots to 26 knots, bringing along with it a rising swell. These two combined had many of us heading for our suites to lie down rather than make our way to The Restaurant for the lovely lunch that had been prepared for us.

Combining the rocking of the ship with a great meal can be a dangerous thing; those who had made it to The Restaurant were now being gently rocked to sleep! It was time for an afternoon nap before meeting with Rob Suisted for our third lecture of the day. With an announcement from our Expedition Leader Robin West, we were summoned to The Theatre for Rob’s lecture “Whales & Dolphins of the Southern Ocean”. Rob gave a brief history on why he is able to give such a lecture, where whales and dolphins came from and the ones we are likely to see. Among them, he told us that the Minke whale is the most likely, then the Humpback, but we need to make sure we spend enough time on deck looking for them as those who are out there see more.

Immediately after Rob’s lecture was finished, those who had not brought their own Wellington boots were invited down to the reception area to try on a pair from the ship, which they may use throughout our voyage.

With that, we had one more event to attend to before relaxing through the rest of our afternoon. We needed to return to The Theatre for our mandatory Zodiac briefing, where Robin ran us through Zodiac operations onboard the Prince Albert II.