December 11, 2012 – Drake Passage, on route to Antarctica
Posted on December 12th, 2012
Temperature: 35˚F (2˚C)
Wind speed: 7 knots
Cloud cover: 100%
The famed Drake Passage had transformed overnight, from that of a millpond to a lake. It seemed as though those in charge of the weather still had everything under control and we couldn’t have dreamed of a better crossing towards Antarctica. The excitement of the day began before we even had time to wipe the sleep from our eyes.
There were more intriguing lectures, this time from Dr. Patricia Silva on penguins, Richard Harker with his second lesson on photographing in Antarctica and Charley Wheatley’s talk on the seals of the Southern Ocean. We were both fascinated and inundated with every detail we could have hoped for.
The wonders outside took our breath away. Like something from the workshop of a famous sculptor, magnificent towering icebergs dotted the horizon. Shaped by the currents around them, these frozen works of art showed deep scarring, bleeding the most brilliant neon blues you could ever imagine. We stood in awe as ‘Le Boreal’ navigated around them.
Fin whales, the second largest behind only the blue, escorted us as we headed for Antarctic Sound, The whales fed along the way and went about their business as if we were not even there. Our excitement over what we were seeing was surpassed only by the excitement of the expedition team, which really gave us a sense of how special it was to witness the whales.
Of course our day couldn’t be all fun and games, and we needed to join Larry Hobbs, our lecturer on marine biology, for a mandatory meeting in the theater. To take advantage of landings and zodiac cruises, we had to first understand how the operation works and also run through the IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) guidelines. Once we had this under our belts, we would be ready to go for the coming days.
Anticipation and excitement in our voices filled the dining room as we finished dinner before retiring for the evening. What adventures tomorrow would bring!
– Chris Srigley, Naturalist