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Day 2 - December 12, 2008 - At Sea Drake Passage

By Juan C. Restrepo, Geologist

Noon position:
Latitude 56º 58.3’ S
Longitude 064º 32.9’ W

Our first day at sea in the infamous Drake Passage was actually quite good, by Drake standards... We had a 10-15 foot (3-5 m) swell, the wind was blowing at speeds of 25-30 knots from the West and the air temperature was around +4ºc (39 F) for most of the day.

During the day, our onboard educational program started with a lecture by our Ornithologist Chris Harbard entitled “Penguins”, which talked about... well, I don’t need to tell you that dear reader, do I? I know I don’t, but I will. Chris explained the life and times of these incredible and exclusively aquatic birds that have fascinated mankind for years, both entertaining us and challenging us to explain their existence. The talk covered all the species we hope to see on this expedition, from Emperors to Macaronis.

At 14h30, Rob Suisted delighted us with his lecture “Whales and Dolphins of the Southern Ocean”. The Southern Ocean and Antarctica have arguably driven the evolution of the great whales. Rob discussed why this is so, what it means for our voyage, what we will likely see, how to identify them and what makes them special.

At 16h00, the Expedition Team distributed gumboots for the guests that wished to borrow them from the ship’s supply.

In terms of sea temperature, something interesting occurred in the afternoon. Up until 16h00, the water temperature had been +5ºc (41 F) and sometime between that time and 18h00 it dropped by 3ºc, announcing the crossing of the Antarctic Convergence, the natural boundary of Antarctica. Once we sailed over that point where cold waters coming from the south meet warmer waters coming from the north, we could actually say, we have entered the Antarctic!

Afternoon tea was served at 16h to the music of Adam, and at 17h00 we all attended a mandatory Zodiac briefing, where Robin West, our Expedition Leader, explained the use of our Zodiac landing crafts.

At 19h00 Captain Peter Stahlberg offered a Welcome Cocktail Party. Due to the rough seas, the attendance was quite low, however, The Restaurant had a different air at dinnertime. Quite a lot of people made it to a delicious Welcome Aboard Dinner offered by our Executive Chef Sean Emslie and Maitre d’Hotel Uta Rickert.

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