Captain Marchesseu relates his harrowing experience with piracy off the Somali Coast
We welcome the green of Tierra del Fuego
Marzipan faces appear on the luncheon dessert table
Our Argentine pilot comes aboard portside at the Beagle Channel Pilot Station
Le Boreal - December 18, 2011
At Sea, Drake Passage
Temperature: 46° F
Wind speed: 10 knots
Cloud cover: 80%
The Southern Ocean remained kind to us during the night, only a slight wind and swell in existence, just enough to rock us gently back and forth while we slept. Reading a good book with a cup of coffee in the Observation Lounge was a good way to start the day, followed by a full breakfast.
Captain Patrick Marchesseau kicked off the lecture program for the day with his extremely well-anticipated talk, "Piracy and the hijacking of Le Ponant and the Indian Ocean". In his usual gripping manner, Captain Patrick took us through his experience as Captain on a ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates, and the negotiations and sidestepping that resulted in him safely getting his crew through what was clearly a very challenging situation.
We headed outside after the lecture to see what seabirds might be out and about, and some of us had the good fortune of seeing a wandering albatross soaring behind the ship.
We then grabbed a cookie before meeting with Cruise Director Jannie Cloete for a disembarkation briefing to learn about our travel details once we leave the ship in Ushuaia. After lunch, we joined Marine Biologist Jim McClintock in The Theater for a fascinating look at SCUBA diving in Antarctic waters. Jim talked about some of the issues that cold water diving and diving under ice can present, as well as about the diverse invertebrate communities (including sea stars, soft corals and sponges) that flourish on the very ocean seafloor we have been sailing directly over.
Following afternoon teatime, we joined Cruise Director Jannie Cloete, Expedition Leader Larry Hobbs and the rest of the Expedition Team for an overview of our trip. We participated in a raffle to benefit both the Le Boreal Crew Welfare Fund, as well as the Save the Albatross Fund. Guests who purchased tickets stood the chance of winning a sea chart marked with our route and signed by the senior officers onboard, as well as an original drawing by Ornithologist Patricia Silva. There was excitement in the room as the winning names were announced.
After Larry summarized the exciting journey we had all taken together, we watched a wonderful retrospective slide show of our trip, made up of photos taken by the Expedition Staff and compiled by Photo Coach Richard Harker. It featured photos of our various landings, and many people recognized themselves disguised behind red parkas and rubber boots. The photos were amazing, and our experiences in Antarctica seemed both years ago and yesterday at the same time.
The final days of this expedition have been dominated by reflection and celebration. We have reached the end of our exploration of Antarctica. This is a special place beyond description, extremely powerful and fragile at the same time. With all that we have experienced and learned, we can return home with a newfound knowledge of how special Antarctica is, and how important it is to protect it for future generations.