Day 16 |
Feb 24, 2009

At Sea

By Chris Collins

After a somewhat bumpy night, which included gusts of up to 70 knots and the wind blowing consistently at 40+ knots, we awoke to a heavy swell of over 6 metres, good visibility and light rain. The stabilisers on Prince Albert II meant, however, that our journey towards the Beagle Channel was reasonably smooth.

At 10:00am, the last lecture of the voyage was given by David Munro who is a member of the Scientific and Technical Committee of the Prince Albert II Foundation. During his talk entitled “The Sailor Prince”, David told the story of the current Prince's great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert I, who had devoted his life to the study on marine geology and oceanography. The Prince had also made a number of trips to the Arctic and produced some of the first bathymetric charts. Later in the morning, the movie “Around Cape Horn” was shown in The Theatre. This black-and-white film had been filmed by Captain Irving Johnson in 1929 when he had rounded Cape Horn on the square rigger “Peking” and the audio commentary had been narrated by him many years later.

Shortly before lunch, Captain Peter Stahlberg gave his daily update and said that we were 65 nautical miles from Cape Horn. He also mentioned that due to the weather we had experienced over the last few days, our crossing of the Drake Passage would be the slowest of the season by the Prince Albert II.

At 4pm, we were approximately 30 nautical miles due east of Cape Horn (Cabo de Hornos), however, this was too far to see land and as we continued northwards, the wind continued to blow at up to 40 knots.

Half an hour later, we were back in The Theatre for the final Recap & Briefing of the voyage. Our Expedition Leader, Ignacio Rojas, gave an overview of the voyage and this was then followed by all the Expedition Staff who each gave a short presentation, and most of whom described personal highlights from the voyage. Finally the Expedition Photographer, Richard Sidey, showed us a selection of the images that will be on the complimentary CD-Rom all guests aboard this voyage will receive.

As we cruised onward towards the Beagle Channel, there were plenty of birds to be seen around the ship and we had great looks at Black-browed, Wandering and Royal Albatrosses, Wilson's Storm-petrels and Sooty Shearwaters. In all probability, most of the Black-browed Albatrosses had come from the Falklands where we had been just two weeks before. At 7pm, we returned to The Theatre and the Captain gave a short speech, which he followed by introducing the staff from the various departments on the ship including The Restaurant, chefs, housekeeping, sailing and engineering.

After this, guest Alexander Macklin said a few words explaining that he and his brother (who was also a guest on the ship) were the sons of the surgeon on Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition. Alexander Macklin then presented the Captain with a print ('Endurance at night in mid-winter'), which was from one of the photographs taken by Shackleton's photographer, Frank Hurley. Peter Damisch (Ship's Historian) was then presented with a different framed print by Alexander's brother, Richard, as the brothers had greatly enjoyed Peter's lectures on Shackleton's expedition.

With dinner served at 19:30, we enjoyed our last evening meal of the voyage as the ship cruised onwards towards the Beagle Channel. Although the final 36 hours had been somewhat rough, overall we had been extremely fortunate with the weather and had not lost any of our scheduled landings due to adverse conditions.