Antarctica Diary, Days 2 and 3: The Drake Passage and a Boat Tour

Day 2

Dana: Woke up for breakfast this morning and noticed that only a fraction of the people we met yesterday were here. It must be due to the ship bobbing through the Drake Passage like a toy boat. We were briefed last night about the Drake Passage having some of the roughest waters in the entire world, and I believe it. We heard stories of peoples arms getting broken because of open doors getting slammed on them, bad falls, and if you ever go overboard in these waters, you are better off trying to drown yourself than freeze to death.. I started to feel ill from the movement of the boat a little after breakfast and decided to take a nap. Adam attended a lecture about seabirds.  He is one of the lucky ones who doesn’t get seasick.

The breakfast buffet is amazing, way better than we thought it would be!

I woke up again to go to lunch with Adam, and I probably should have just stayed in bed and slept. Adam went out to photograph birds in the afternoon, being careful not to get tossed off the ship. He told me that he got pictures of some giant petrels and a wandering albatross, the bird with the longest wingspan in the world. I got to see a few of them when I woke up for, you guessed, it, dinner.

The giant petrel looks like a seagull the size of a pterodactyl!

An albatross gliding over the ocean

The longest wingspan of any living bird, the wandering albatross

That wingspan is anywhere from 9-11 feet long!

The giant petrel wingspan comes in at approximately 7 feet

A giant petrel against the backdrop of the rough waters of the Drake Passage

It wasn’t a very productive day for me but the rocking of the boat was too much for me to awake and be miserable. Our tour leader, Monica, told us that the body doesn’t recognize being sea sick if you are unconscious, so sleeping is the best way to avoid it althogether.  The Captain says we have one more day of this until late tomorrow evening when we reach our first islands off the Antarctic peninsula.

Day 3

Adam: Rough waters again on day 3. Not much else to report on. Went to two lectures today, one on penguins and the other on seals. Should be helpful information once we start taking our trips on shore and have reached land by tomorrow. I decided to walk around the boat for a little ‘tour’ of what our ship looks like on the inside.

Our Room: While small, the room is quite nice. We are at the bottom of the boat, which actually makes the rocking of the ship less noticeable than the nicer rooms upstairs. Since there is no window, sleeping at night is like being in a cave.

Our humble home while in Antarctica

Community Room: If you’re not hanging out in your room or outside, this is most likely where you’ll be. It’s a great place to play cards, read a book, drink coffee, and watch for the gigantic seabirds.

The community room, a nice place to relax

The drinks station in the corner... unlimited coffee, tea, and hot chocolate!

The Dining Room: The dining room is very nice and so far, the quality of the food has been very good. It is a bit cramped, but the key is to pick a row that isn’t too narrow, as all of them vary a little bit. The wait staff is incredible, watching them balance plates and glasses while not falling over is impressive.

The dining room... hopefully more people come to eat when the water calms down

The Bridge: This is where the control room is for the ship, and where the Captain spends most of his time. I was surprised they allowed us up here, only keeping it closed during some of the rougher waters yesterday on day 2. The Captain likes to play classical music in the bridge, I guess that calms him when sailing through the Drake Passage.

The Captain looking out from the bridge.

The RADAR and instrumentation inside the bridge.

Rear of the Boat: Just outside the community room, this is where the crew is getting the zodiac boats ready for tomorrow. Every time we will be heading out on land, this is the method of transportation that we will take. Tomorrow we will learn the procedure of boarding and disembarking on one.

The zodiacs, as we see land finally and get ready for tomorrow!

Just after dinner, we got to see our first real surprise of the trip: a whale sighting! A humpback whale was near our ship, and I was able to snap one good picture of him. I also learned that unless the whales were close, they were extremely hard to photograph because of the short time they are above surface.

Our first whale sighting!

We reached land close to 10 o’clock at night, and Dana got her picture at the front of the boat with her first land sighting. Despite being giddy that we have finally seen land, we have an early excursion scheduled for 7:30 am tomorrow, so it’s off to bed before we (hopefully) see a large colony of chinstrap penguins!

Dana at the front of the ship

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2 Responses to Antarctica Diary, Days 2 and 3: The Drake Passage and a Boat Tour

  1. Awesome pics of the birds. The albatross in Galapagos had yellow bills, but were essentially those same giant flying creatures. I really like the last pic ofr the petrel over the agitated waters of the Drake.

    It looks like the MV Ushuaia was a pretty nice selection. Someday we will talk of the cost of the trip. I must make plans… someday.

    • akiefer says:

      Those birds are very challenging to photograph! It’s like a shooting gallery trying to get them focused in your viewfinder… not to mention the choppy water!

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