Sunday, January 29, 2012

Drake Passage

Sir Francis Drake was not only an explorer, but was also an extremely successful pirate.  September 26th, 1580, Drake sailed into Plymouth England after completing a journey of 2 years and 10 months, with pirated treasures worth over 10 million dollars.  It was for this plundering that Queen Elizabeth knighted the wayward explorer!

It's a Gull !
Sailing South through Beagle Channel we left Tierra del Fuego bound for the Antarctic Peninsula.  We saw wandering albatrosses,  and many, many gulls, cape petrels and giant petrels.

Cape Petrels 

Would we discover the "Drake Lake" or the "Drake Shake" off the bow of our boat?  Sometimes the stickmen ("they say" - y'all quote them too) say the the Passage can be as smooth as a bab.. as smooth as glass.  Our official forecast from the bridge, was for "some movement of the boat... please secure your cabins..."  We cleared Beagle into open water around midnight.  It was not going to be the "Lake".

While the glassware in the bar and bath were thankfully snugged in their places, everything else was obeying one of Newton's more important laws, and seeking it's lowest possible point.  Thank goodness that the lid to the head was shut. Winnie and I would have surely lost our Rx meds, toothpaste, and brushes to the Neptune of the commode bowl.  Okay.  Maybe not exactly lose them.. they float?.. but you get the picture.  What woke us from our sound sleep... were drawers in the chest opening.  And closing.  And opening.  And closing.  Doors slamming.  Things falling off of our tabletops.  Things falling off the tabletops in the next cabins.  Colourful language from the Brits, Aussies, and Kiwis.  Colorful language from we Americans.  There are wonderful nuances there that make me yearn for a trip to New Zealand to pick up their accent and learn a new way to curse.

What we had ahead of us for the next 100+ nautical miles were 40Kt winds from the WSW,

 And moderate seas of 3-4m.

The seas were quartering a bit from starboard, so the boat not only pitched... it rolled.  The expression "One hand for the boat at all times" was becoming more and more apparent with each pitch and roll.  And having a shower?  Think of yourself standing with one foot on top of a basket ball in a moving vehicle while trying to soap/rinse/repeat/wipe hands on pants.

On the plus side, though...Yum.  Breakfast is going to be wide open in the morning.

After we re-secured our stuff, we slept wonderfully, rocked to sleep... down, left, up, right, down, left, up, right... by Drake.

"Some of us are over the seasick stage and no longer want to die."  Hartford after 10 days on the 'Nimrod' wtih Shackleton in 1907.

Tomorrow morning, after breakfast with plenty of elbow room... a bio-security briefing, followed by a zodiac briefing.  I think that we're going to be going ashore on the South Shetland Islands by afternoon!

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