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01/24/2009

At sea, Cape Horn, Ushuaia

It is our last day at sea and we awoke to find the sun shining and Minerva sailing across what now could be called the ‘Drake Lake’ as the sea was so calm. By breakfast time Cape Horn appeared ahead, a sight that has stirred the souls of sailors for centuries. Minerva was able to approach as close as 12 miles off the coast, to the limit of Chile’s territorial waters but even at this distance, we had a clear view of this famous point of land. Wandering and black browed albatross still soared around the ship, our last chance to glimpse these magnificent birds before we leave the open sea.

This morning, Bob Burton reminisced in 'When I was a lad: Two Years in Antarctica'. Bob had worked at the British Antarctic Survey station on Signy Island in the mid-1960s. He gave a lighthearted account of a very simple, rather idyllic life in a small, very isolated and (technically) primitive community of young men.


This was followed at 11:30 by Cruise Director Jannie Cloete giving the important, if unwelcome, briefing about the arrangements and procedures that will enable a smooth disembarkation and onward travel after our arrival at Ushuaia. He was followed by a sneak preview of the souvenir DVD of our cruise by the videographer that would be available for sale.

Just to make sure we were completely well fed on this voyage, the galley team out did themselves once again by treating us to a special coconut and shrimp soup cookout on the pool deck for lunch and then a gourmet galley afternoon teatime!

Our last formal presentation of the voyage was an Expedition Overview. The Captain and Suzana thanked the passengers on this voyage for the very generous contribution of $2,500 to be put towards the Crew Welfare Fund. Then Juan showed us a slide show that he had compiled from photos contributed by the Expedition Team. There were some incredible images and we were reminded just how lucky we had been with the weather we experienced and the wildlife we encountered on this voyage.

Late afternoon found Minerva at the entrance to the Beagle Channel and just before picking up the pilot, the sharp eyes of the Officer of the Watch on the bridge spotted killer whales! The Captain turned the ship around so we could follow the two big males with their tall dorsal fins for a short while before continuing on our course for Ushuaia where we arrived just before 9pm. This evening many of us sat for a quiet drink with new found friends in anticipation of an early start in the morning. It had been an incredible expedition and although it feels sad that it is over, we take away memories, stories, photos and a new understanding of the last great wilderness on earth known as the ‘White Continent’.
 

   

In the mid morning we could see Cape Horn in the distance.

In the afternoon the Galley tour took place, but was interrupted…

Everybody rushed to the open decks to watch the Orcas reported by the bridge.

And there they were, two males, whom Sean Todd our mammologist described as being of the type B.

Our valuable Deck Officers 3 R Army - Rado, Ravi, Ruffi - Safety officer, Communication Officer & Navigation Officer with Cape Horn background .


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