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Day 11 - December 9, 2009 - At Sea, Drake Passage / Beagle Channel

By Chris Srigley, General Naturalist

Co-ordinates: 55º13’33”S, 66º10’35”W (at time of writing)
Weather: Overcast, scattered showers
Air Temperature: 6ºC, 44ºF
Sea Temperature: 5ºC
Pressure: 1002 kpa
Wind: yes

Good morning Prince Albert II!!!! Well okay, this may bit a bit of an exaggeration. For most I would think that there has been nothing good this morning.

Through the night the winds had increased and the Prince Albert II had begun to toss. For some, including myself it was a night with little sleep. With a slight change in course, Captain Peter Stahlberg had made it more comfortable, but nothing was going to make it stop.

Around 0800 we had been scheduled to be within sight of the famed Cape Horn. With our slight course change it was now some 30 nautical miles away and out of sight in the clouds and mist.

As usual, regardless of the sea conditions, onboard activities continue as planned. Our morning began with Stefan Kredel and his talk “From Snowflake to the Ice Age”. During his talk, Stefan, using his German humor, would teach us the difference between glacial and sea ice and why the ice ages of the past happened. Surprisingly, because of the seas, Stefan almost had a full house and I can imagine many more were listening in from their suites.

Shortly afterwards, Michaela Mayer began her talk “Life Beneath the Surface”. Answering questions as to how marine scientists come to their conclusions, Michaela took us through the Antarctic marine ecosystem and how it is linked to the ice cover. Introducing us to many organisms that live below the sea ice, she intrigued everyone with her passion and knowledge for these microscopic life forms.

With that, the seas had begun to calm as we had found shelter behind the southern reaches of South America. Those who had not made it to the lectures began to emerge from their suites and make the 12:30 pilgrimage to visit Uta and her team in The Restaurant.

With an easy afternoon, between our schedule and the calmness of the Beagle Channel, many chose this time to begin the packing process.

At 1500 we were to gather in The Theatre for Richard Sidey’s presentation of the voyage DVD he had prepared. However, last night he had offered to meet with those interested an hour before hand and put their best photos into a slideshow to be shown before his. The loudest applause would get the photographer a bottle of champagne!!! As busy as he is, it was a fantastic idea to get people to show their best shots of the trip.

Immediately afterwards, Richard played his own voyage DVD. A master of his media, Richard once again outdid himself, capturing the trip in only a way that he seems to be able to do.

After nine voyage DVDs in a row, Richard, very deservingly, will step back next trip and allow another resident photographer to take centre stage while he concentrates on other duties onboard. “Well done Richard, fantastic as always!”

In only a short few minutes we would once again gather in The Theatre. But this time we would all be dressed our best and enjoying the sweet sounds of Lou on the piano as we drank cocktails and awaited the Captain’s speech at his farewell cocktail party.

His usual humorous self, Captain Peter thanked all for joining us and brought the crew on stage to a wild applause. It had been a truly great team effort, and it is a truly great team we have onboard.

To all our guests, may the wind always be at your back and the sun on your face. Safe journeys home; we look forward to seeing you again here onboard the Prince Albert II!!

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