Rockin' and Rollin' on the Infamous Drake Passage

Trip Start May 20, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2011

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Antarctic Dream

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Thursday, February 10, 2011


Day : 269
Temperature : 5 degrees
Weather : Foggy, windy, sunny

Antarctica Day One

Having been to duty free, we were now fully stocked up with 3 bottles of Amarula, one bottle of whiskey, one bottle of gin, one bottle of Champagne, one bottle of red wine, and 5 bars of chocolate….between the four of us. Unfortunately we had drunk a bottle of Amarula before we boarded the ship, and so we had to make an extra trip to duty free on our way down to the dock. We had met up with Davina and Adrian, and Australian couple who were travelling for a year, and so the six of us now made our way down to the dock, full of excitement that we were a jittering mess!

Once we boarded our little boat, The Antarctic Dream, we were guided to the dining room where we were all called down one at a time for the check-in procedure. We were then served drinks and snacks before listening to a welcome speech by our expedition leader and our captain for the next 11 days. We were informed on what to expect in Antarctica and advised on safety aboard, especially when passing through the infamous Drake Passage, the body of water which is funnelled through the gap between the southern tip of South America and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. I figured things might get rocky when I discovered that all the chairs were actually chained to the floor, along with tables, lamps, sofas, and anything which could possibly move.

After completing the compulsory Abandon Ship drill, we then left the dock and we were served dinner as we sailed through the Beagle Channel, just as the sun was going down.

This was going to be a great trip!

Antarctica Day Two

Bing-Bing-Bing….Good morning ladies and gentlemen…..came the announcement over tannoy. Groggily we woke up, wondering how we felt, as we had now entered the Drake Passage and the boat was definitely rolling and pitching, a lot. Within a couple of minutes Kevin was throwing up in the bathroom. I headed upstairs to breakfast, but was feeling kind of queasy, and I couldn't face anything, neither could many other passengers as the dining room was noticeably empty! After sipping down half a cup of tea, I retreated to our room, where I promptly threw everything up!

The next 3 hours were spent groaning and moaning and lying in our darkened cabin.  There was no point in going to see the resident doctor, cos rumour had it that she also had her head down a toilet!

I woke up just before lunch time and was feeling a bit better. I think my sea sickness patch had finally started to work.  I ventured up stairs to have a little bit of lunch, and amazingly felt even better after eating. Kevin however, was still down below, being thrown about on our bed as we rolled from side to side. There still wasn't many people around, probably about half of the passengers were in their rooms, and after lunch the majority of people who’d eaten also ventured back to their rooms. It was getting difficult just to get out of a chair, let alone actually walk anywhere.  Anything that wasn’t nailed down was pretty much sent flying, and there were several loud crashes heard coming from the kitchen area. This, apparently, was a "good" crossing.

I spent the rest of the day lying on the sofa in the dining room, drinking the odd tea here and there, in between staring at the horizon. My only company was a couple of staff members, a few Chinese people that also lay sleeping on the sofas, and four magnificent wandering albatrosses that were following our boat all day….since the passengers seemed to be dropping like flies!

Finally, at 7pm, dinner was served and a few more people emerged from their rooms looking a little rough, but making an effort to eat something. Poor Kevin, was still down below, feeling absolutely terrible! Only another 24 hours of the Drake Passage to go!!!.

Antarctica Day Three

Another rocky day on the Drake Passage.  Today however, we were crossing the Antarctic Convergence, a biological imaginary line whereby the relatively warmer waters of the atlantic / pacific meet the much colder waters of the Antarctic….basically, we would be entering Antarctica!! These colder waters are essentially part of the Circumpolar Current, a huge mass of water which as the name suggests, travels around the Antarctic Peninsula.  Out on deck, there was a definite change in air temperature, it was much, much colder! The wandering albatrosses had also abandoned us…we were informed the previous day that they would not pass through the Antarctic Convergence.

Both Kevin and I were feeling much better by now, although we still had to be in eyeshot of the horizon, knowing that it wouldn’t take much to tip us over the edge. Fortunately, we did manage to attend the two lectures that were on that day, something that had been completely out of the question yesterday! There was also a general increase in the number of passengers that were appearing for meals throughout the day, although the doctor was still noticeably absent….something which the crew found particularly amusing!

The only other exciting thing that happened today was the fact that we were all issued with our boots and jackets for our landings, as well as being briefed on the procedure for our landings, the first of which would be tomorrow.

As the day came to a close we were still bouncing around….. and having spent some time on the bridge, I learned that the reason for this was due to the Force 7 wind which was producing pretty big swell and waves which were coming at a right angle to the boat, hence the unrelenting rolling from side to side which we had endured for about 48 hours!

Tomorrow, I was reassured, would be much calmer. In fact tomorrow, we would be landing in Antarctica!!
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Antony on

Great pic of Kev and his new found best buddy the penguine. Hope the return journey back on the boat was better - still to read that part.


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