Explorer's Antarctica Voyage 7126 Day 17

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Day 17 - December 11, 2011 - At Sea

By Kara Weller, Biologist

Co-ordinates: 55° 13’ S 66° 21’ W (noon position)
Weather: mostly sunny
Air Temperature: 7 ° C
Pressure: 992 hPa
Wind: 37 km / h
Humidity: 59%


During the night the winds increased to 50 knots and the heaving and swelling sea kept most people onboard from getting a good night’s sleep. But despite the rough conditions and increased wind, we were able to maintain quite a fast speed during the night, and morning found us cruising at 15 knots, rapidly nearing the protected waters of the Beagle Channel.

Already at 8 am we were at the same latitude as Cape Horn and a few hours later the land towards our west provided us with some protection from the swell and wind and we could once more make our way to The Theatre. Our lecture program continued with a talk from Luqui about Patagonia, which was followed by Uli talking about underwater photography.

Soon we could see land and we welcomed the ever-calming waters surrounding the very southern tip of South America. Snow-capped peaks and greener and greener hills came into view. The bird life flying around the ship was wonderful to watch. Blue-eyed shags flew back and forth on busy missions unknown to us, sooty shearwaters glided over the grey sea, terns flew about and the beautiful black-browed albatross once again graced us with its presence so we could admire its elegant form and heavily streaked black eye markings that give it such a beautiful appearance. An unidentified whale blow was seen on the horizon shortly before lunch.

As we came closer and closer to the Beagle Channel entrance the seas became ever more calm until we were cruising along on flat perfect seas and the ship was steady and solid beneath us. The channel became narrower until we could easily see the mountain peaks on either side of the ship. Only the very tops of the mountains were capped in snow, the rest of the slopes were beautiful green – a color we had not seen much of in several days now.

In the late afternoon was the screening of the second half of Lou’s slide show and movie from our journey, and once again we could admire her many beautiful photos and look back at the wonderful places we had been and the memorable things we had experienced on this voyage.

Ushuaia slowly came into view and as it became bigger and bigger, we thought back on the last 16 days on board the Silver Explorer and how, come tomorrow morning, the people onboard would return home to all parts of the globe. In the evening we came alongside the pier in Ushuaia and after clearance everyone had the chance to wander into town if they chose, or stay onboard for one last quiet evening.

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