- Carol Mckee
Crossing the Drake & MyTop Trick!
We boarded our ship in Ushuaia, Argentina on Wednesday afternoon January 18. Out of the Beagle and onto the drake passage, where the Pacific and Atlantic, an arctic oceans meet, and there’s a whole lotta drama between the three of them! We got the Drake mini-quake instead of the Drake lake but we would later learn this was pretty tame compared to what it could be.
Things were rocking and rolling but we got through it just fine. Why? Because I took the advice of someone who had just been through it themselves.
A colleague of mine recommended prescription strength anti-nausea patches. These go behind your ears, and keep a steady stream of medication in your system. I had to do this well in advance as it required a doctor's office visit for both of us. But boy was it worth it!
With these in place our the over the Drake passage went by pretty easily for us both. Those passengers on the ship without the patches didn’t fair as well. But the wildlife is here even though we are in between three oceans (Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans) and on a two day journey to get to another continent. The first thing spotted was an albatross which is considered good luck. Here she is gliding over the choppy seas of the Drake.
Overnight we passed into the Arctic Ocean. The sea had calmed down a little bit when we woke up in the morning. After a delicious breakfast we hung out in the observation lounge and saw lots of wildlife. Sightings included a fin whale which is the second largest whale in the world.
Whales breed and birth their young in warmer water but then head down here to feed during the southern hemispheres summer. We are here in January, which is the southern hemisphere’s equivalent of our July weather. of course, down here and Antarctica the high today was 35 degrees.
The expedition team, filled with people with PHD's in things like marine biology and glaciology, has an almost non stop offering of informational talks about our destination, the wildlife the changes to the ice cap, and more. It's been so nice to learn about this wild place before we even get there. And as a bonus you can watch these talks live from the TV in your room if you are sea sick or just don't feel like getting up and about.
We headed down to the Southern Shetland Islands, which will be our first opportunity to get off and walk around on Half Moon Island - a bonus stop since our sleek ship crossed the Drake in record time. This island has a colony of chinstrap penguins about 3500 strong and we will be able to hike the island to see they’re breeding grounds.
We’ve been fitted with a heavy parka (that we get to keep) and loner boots, so that we can go out in various conditions. With the addition of waterproof outer pants we are now completely waterproof! Here is why you need waterproof clothing on a windy day in Antarctica:
Here everyone laughing? It's not wet (because waterproof clothing) nor is it scary because safety is always at the forefront. We found these few zodiac rides that were wet pretty fun! More on our visit to Half Moon Island next time!