Voyage Journal 7103 Day 17

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Day 17 - February 10, 2011 - En route to Ushuaia, Argentina

By by Christian Walter, Historian

Co-ordinates: 55° 45’ S, 66° 05’ W (at 8 o’clock)
Weather: overcast
Air Temperature: 9,7° C (at 8 o’clock)
Pressure: 999 hPa
Wind: 28,5 kph

Fortunately we had made good speed during the early part of the crossing of the Drake Passage and came into the shelter of Chile’s southernmost islands around Cape Horn around 7:30 a.m. We were now heading for the entrance to the Beagle Channel and would have to await the Argentine pilot to take us into Ushuaia.

At 11:30 Robin talked about the building, or more specifically, the conversion of the Prince Albert II. It had been built in Finland in 1989 with the highest ice-class possible for a non-ice-breaker, and had changed names and owners a few times before Society Expeditions acquired her to transform her into an expedition-ship at the Sembawang Shipyard in Singapore in 2002. As the World Discoverer she had been in the Pacific, the Arctic and Antarctica before she was back in Singapore where Dr. Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, Silversea’s owner, saw and bought her in 2007.

Refitted in Trieste, Italy, the then World Discoverer left Trieste for Monaco to be christened as the Prince Albert II by His Serene Highness Prince Albert II himself.

Robin showed very interesting pictures of the re-fit and it was quite surprising to hear how much money, time and effort was put into making the Prince Albert II the most luxurious expedition ship on the market.

Lunch was had in calm seas, so everyone could enjoy our next to last culinary delights aboard. Conversation at my table ranged from eating habits, teaching and discipline in China, to ship-related topics like ‘how-to-become-a member-of-the-expedition-team’, the wreck of the old World Discoverer -with me on the bridge (but not at the helm)- and the very interesting voyage we had had.

A highlight of today’s lecture program was the film “Around Cape Horn” by Captain Irving Johnson. It had extremely interesting material from a voyage done in 1929 from Hamburg to Talcahuano, Chile, on one of the “Flying P” ships, the Peking. In 1929 the Peking was the largest 4-masted sailing ship in the world, and the footage taken showed one of the best (=worst) storms around Cape Horn. Having seen the giant waves and the Peking’s reaction to the storm, many of us were quite happy that we had evaded rough seas by having left a little earlier from Antarctica…

During the afternoon the weather improved and one could stand outside without a parka or coat and enjoy the Magellanic penguins sitting on the water looking at us drifting by. When we passed Puerto Williams, I could phone Easter Island and talk to my daughter. Everybody on the island was involved in this year’s “Tapati Rapa Nui”, a special and cultural version of ‘Miss Easter Island’.

At 5 p.m. we all convened in The Theatre for the Farewell Cocktail Party. Captain Golubev invited many of the crew-members that had helped to make this a special voyage onto the stage, and three crew-members received “employee of the month” certificates.

Then it was Kristine’s time to show the second part of her documentary. It was well received and earned a long applause.

As the final event before dinner, a specially prepared sea-chart was offered on auction. The money obtained would be used for the crew-welfare. The bidding started at US$250 with several guests willing to bid. Eventually the price rose close to US$1000, when Juan announced that we had a guest bidding via phone. Juan had been given instructions to bid up to a certain amount and therefore, whenever US$50 were added to the former bid, Juan promptly had to raise the bid by yet another US$50. The final offer by our phone bidder from Suite 700 was US$4.000!! A big “Thank you” from our crew to Mrs. Debbie Simon.

At 7 p.m. we were coming alongside in Ushuaia, and after clearing in guests, the staff and crew had to choose between dinner aboard or an asado or perhaps king crabs in one of the many restaurants in town. Later on it was time to enjoy the nightlife....

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