Day 17 |
Jan 06, 2010

Drake Passage, Cape Horn

By Marylou Blakeslee, General Naturalist

Co-ordinates: 55?08.911'S, 66?23.630W

Weather: sunny and mild

The day was bright and sunny, again. We’ve become accustomed to the sunny weather just like we have become accustomed to the magnificent sea birds following our ship. Every day of this voyage we have been watching the birds fly. Now they are so familiar that they are our companions. Their species names are easy to remember now and we all share that knowledge. It is one of the many things that bond us to each other on this trip of a lifetime. The water still commanded our attention from time to time but the waves seemed to swirl more than rise and fall. It noticed that the surface of the sea was moving in many directions at once but that didn’t interfere with our smooth sailing.

Soon an announcement from the Captain pointed to land on the horizon. Cape Horn was coming into sight. Just after 10 am, the famous weathered hill was clearly seen off of our port side. Chilean permission was granted and we sailed within the 12-mile limit for a closer look. So many mariners haven’t made this turn. So many sailors have perished along these rough coasts. The horn always brings them to my mind.

There was no doubt now that we were headed homeward.

The lectures on living in Antarctica by Rich Kirchner and about Charcot by Peter Damisch kept us interested and intrigued. Later in the afternoon Kristine Hannon showed part 2 of our trip DVD. There we all were standing with penguins, watching elephant seals and riding in Zodiacs around skyscrapers of ice. She did such a fine job that everyone ordered at least one.

The afternoon was silly. A game of “Liars Club” was on in the Panorama Lounge. Myself and three other Expedition Team members had words to make up definitions to, while trying to fool the audience of guests. Teams were gathered to try to guess who was telling the truth and who was lying. By the end of the game, I was the biggest liar! I fooled the most people, but afterword everything I said was followed by the question, “Are you lying?” I probably shouldn’t have ended the trip on that note but it was a fun game to play.

By 6pm, the pilot was aboard and we knew that when we woke we would no longer be watching the birds we knew so well, and the disposition of the sea would not be our first concern. But we come away with something. Something deep within was touched and stirred by our adventures together. It is as though we were each handed a precious jewel to keep. May that jewel be a forever wild Antarctica.