Monday, February 22, 2010

Antarctica Cruise Day 9 Drake Passage Returning

We are crossing the Drake Passage returning to Ushuaia. The last Antarctic land seen was mountainous Smith Island on our left. We are having a "rough Drake." Winds up to 45 knots, which is 50 mph, waves steady at 7 meters (23 feet) and up to 9 meters (30 feet). The stabilizers make a huge difference. While on the bridge, the first mate told me he had worked on the MS Explorer in past years (famous because it sank to the bottom in 2007) and it would tilt 30 degrees to each side - far, far worse than we are enduring. And while there I saw a wave send water, not spray, but water, in front of the bridge windows and it's on the 5th deck! 9 meters for sure. It's difficult to walk. A few people have fallen. Some people aren't being seen much: Dramamine makes you sleepy and if sick the best thing you can do is lie down and close your eyes. I am surprised the cabins don't have more places to grab on; there are places something could easily be placed. They schedule these days at sea busy with talks and movies and a few breaks. Trevor Potts is staff on our cruise. A Brit who had his 60th birthday this week, about 15 years ago he replicated Ernest Shackleton's famous voyage from Elephant Island - our first almost landing - to South Georgia Island, 800 miles, plus crossing the island over glaciers and up thousands of feet. Potts built a semi-replica of the James Card - 23 feet with sails and oars, but no motor. It was the same size and power, but not a replica in that it had a deck to keep out the weather; the original was an open life boat that they put canvas over. It was great to get the first-person account of 12 hard days at sea with one of crew of four useless. Someone, maybe a sponsor, asked him to repeat the trip a few years later, but he was not interested, "you can use my boat, but I don't want to go." Great story and to hear it first hand. They are showing "Life in the Freezer" one 30-minute program at a time; it's excellent. And expedition leader John Frick read Samuel Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner. John gave some background, but it was still hard to take in. We have one more day at sea with the albatrosses and petrels, then arrive in Ushuaia early the morning of the following day. The photos are by Corinthina II staff. The Moon is backward south of the equator, so this should be sunrise. On bridge: just a bit of ice here and there - no problem.