The Long Voyage Back...

Trip Start Oct 05, 2012
Trip End Apr 01, 2013

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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Friday, January 18, 2013

2 days of voyage back across the Drake Passage was supposed to allow us all time to reflect on our trip, sort out photos, write diaries and journals, and catch up on all the sleep we hadn't got during the days of 24 hour light and landings activities. In reality though, very little of this got done except perhaps a little more sleeping than should have been!! There was a general feeling of moroseness on the boat for the majority of us. If only we could have persuaded the crew to turn back and allow us just a little more time...!!

Once again, the weather was incredibly good. We felt the waves rolling the boat but not to the same extent as the worst section of the outgoing voyage. That was until the last night, when the wind picked up and the boat started rolling to the extreme. My bed was perpendicular to the sides of the boat so when I tried to sleep it felt like I was on a seesaw as my head and feet alternated between being up and down. I slept awfully, but didn't feel too bad when I spoke to one of the crew the following day who said that even after 25 years sailing he had also slept terribly!!

On our second last day, we anchored in the entrance to the Beagle Channel mid-afternoon. This was ultimately the end of the sailing for most of us as we would sail the remainder in the early hours of the following day once the pilot arrived on the ship to guide us back in. All that was left was for us to pack and look forward to our last dinner and then the end of voyage activities...

Our guides had prepared a voyage summary DVD for us, which included an amazing video of many of the photos taken during the previous days. Some of you will of course be 'lucky' (or unlucky!!) enough to see it when I return!! It was so nice to see it, although I had to keep asking myself whether I really was part of something so incredible. We then had a certificate ceremony with the Captain to say we'd sailed to Antarctica - it felt like graduation all over again, especially with the fear that you would trip as you went up to collect yours!! It's possibly something that won't last long in the mess that is my rucksack, but I will try and protect it... We then had a celebratory drink to toast the trip and say thank you to all of those who had made it so great.

Dinner was another 3 course affair and we managed to get a table right by the kitchen staff and waiter's station. All of them - Hector, Hernan, Alex, Fernando and Tamara - were incredible during the trip, always smiling, remembering people's dietary requirements, and serving such wonderful food. And our last supper certainly didn't disappoint!!

Our first proper sunset in a few days was watched from the bow of the boat. The hope of seeing dolphins or orcas didn't quite come true, although apparently some people did see some dolphins slightly later. It was then off to the Bridge for one last time, more goodbyes and finally, the end of voyage party. This seemed a slightly tamer than the previous party, possibly a little more subdued because none of us wanted to face the fact that it was actually over. However, you can't hold the latin spirit down for too long and it wasn't long before the dance floor was filled!! It was a great night and a fitting end to the trip...

At 7am on our final day we docked back in Ushuaia, and in glorious sunshine said a very sad farewell to the M/V Ushuaia and our wonderful crew and guides. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't incredibly sad that my trip was over...but feel like one of the luckiest people alive that I was able to be part of such an experience.

PS. For anyone who may be tempted to do a similar trip, I went through Antarrply Expeditions and can't recommend them highly enough. The same goes for the M/V Ushuaia. The boat is a perfect size for Antarctica due to the landing restrictions of 100 people only at one time, and the crew were friendly, professional and willing to do everything for the success of the trip.
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Pigwig on

Gosh Fi, what an incredible trip, must have been so hard to leave - the crew sound amazing, and I will definately use that company if my wee sea-sick gut thinks it could handle it ; )

curlsandtales on

Still suffering withdrawal symptoms now... ;-). Might consider doing another trip there when I have another spare $5000, although perhaps if you want to go we can go on the same trip but maybe not share the same cabin. Don't know if I can handle pukey Al, especially if it comes out the nose like it did so many years ago... Maybe next I have to go and see Polar Bears though in the Arctic?!? Xx

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