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Day 9 - February 19, 2011 - Drake Passage, en route to Ushuaia

By by Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: S 57º 35.5’, W 064º 10.5’
Weather: From overcast in the morning to a sunny afternoon
Air Temperature: 6ºC
Sea Temperature: 7ºC
Pressure: 1016 hPa
Wind: Force 8 blowing at 40 knots


Last night we left the waters of the Southern Ocean as the Prince Albert II crossed the Antarctic Convergence. Through the night the temperature of the water went from 2ºC last night to 7ºC this morning. Antarctica “waved” us good-bye with a rather rocky night. Despite the bumpy ride it was not as rough as expected according to the weather forecast, but still rough enough to consider the Drake Tax paid!

And this morning after breakfast Robin Aiello presented her “Life in Icy Waters”, a great lecture, where she explained how fish and other sea-life survive in below freezing water temperatures. We learnt about the amazing adaptations that these animals have to survive in Antarctic waters.

Then at 11:30 am, I gave a presentation entitled “Geology Rocks!” – a Geology 101 to introduce our guests to the world of rocks, plate tectonics and the geological origin of Antarctica and the Scotia Sea.

After a nice buffet lunch I introduced a film entitled Around Cape Horn. This dramatic film footage shows the life and travails on board a square-rigger, the Peking, during a voyage around Cape Horn in 1929. Filmed and narrated by Captain Irving Johnson.

After tea time and some deck time watching birds, Will Wagstaff entertained us with his ornithology lecture “Sheathbills, Gulls and Skuas - The Forgotten Birds of Antarctica”. This often forgotten group of birds is not as glamorous as the penguins or albatrosses but are just as fascinating, occupying the niche filled by crows and birds of prey further to the north. Will taught us how these great survivors eke out a living on the edge of one of the harshest environments on earth.

Slowly but surely the conditions had been improving, the winds eased a bit and the swell was slowly but surely subsiding. At our daily Recap & Briefing, Expedition Leader Robin West confirmed that the worst was over and that soon we would be in the lee of the South American continent, and from then on the waters would be calm and the Prince Albert II would be alongside in Ushuaia tomorrow at 2 pm.

Tonight revealed a beautiful sunset and a full Restaurant as most guests enjoyed a delicious dinner while the ship got closer and closer to Cape Horn and the conclusion of our journey.
 

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