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01/02/2010

At Sea, Drake Passage

We haven’t been exactly sure what we have done other than weathering our force 11 gales from South Georgia to the Peninsula to get all of this nice weather we have been having, but we won’t complain or question. This morning the fine weather continued to follow us; the stories of the infamous Drake Passage, its frothing seas and strong winds were all but a myth. We were now experiencing a zero on the Beaufort scale of wind. The “Drake Lake”.

After breakfast we joined the Expedition Team on the outer decks for some wildlife viewing while the ships company was practiced in their safety duties onboard. With no wind the number of birds off of the pool deck were low and the Antarctic temperatures continued to be with us so many slipped inside to warm up with a hot tea in anticipation of a great sighting.

By 1115 the time had come for our enrichment lectures to resume in the Darwin Lounge. Marco and Patri, passionate about the Southern Ocean presented “Albatrosses – We have a problem”. Enlightening us on the plight of the albatross today it was evident how much this topic meant to them both and how much time they had invested in their involvement. The numbers of albatross killed do to long line fishing were staggering. It was not all about the bad of course, many things have been done to reduce mortality and they are working. With just a small amount of support a difference will be made and the Southern Ocean will not be usurped of its mascot.

During the lunch hour Captain Moulds came over the public address system to announcing whales, there seemed to be a large krill patch showing on the Minerva’s instruments! He would slow the Minerva and take a look, as there seemed to be so may in the area. As we all dashed to our staterooms for our cameras and parkas the ship made a sharp turned as it slowed down. By the time we had returned to the outer decks we had humpback whales all around us.

After a relaxing tea time which saw many people enjoy a quite read in the library we headed into the Darwin Lounge in anticipation of Bob’s talk “When I was a lad: Two years in Antarctica”. In the 1960’s Bob had been stationed at Signy Island in the South Orkney’s, full of intrigue and comic stories of his time there, he had us between being on the edge of our seats and in stitches. It was a different time to today’s bases.

With this it was time to retreat to our staterooms and dress in our best, Captain Moulds had invited us back to the Darwin Lounge at 1900 for his Farewell Cocktail Party. Although we still had another day onboard the Minerva it was a somber moment to think our days onboard were ending. It seemed ages ago that we had boarded in Ushuaia, sailed to the Falklands and celebrated Christmas in South Georgia. On December 19th we had several weeks to go, now it was only 24 hours.

Gathering in the Restaurant for another enjoyable dinner from the Galley we celebrated the new friendships we had made, the sights we had seen and the greatest wilderness on earth; Antarctica. We did not know that it would touch us in the way it had it touched our souls.
 

   

Expedition Leader Marco Favera and Ornithologist Patricia Silva gave an important presentation about conservation issues involving seabirds and long line fishing.

The young explorers played a lively game of "Oceanopoly" in the card room.

A pod of humpback whales came close to the ship and the guests had great photo opportunities for over an hour.

Four Expedition staff members, Rich Pagen, Kristin Wornsen, Bob Burton and Carol Walton enjoy sharing a moment at the Captain's Farewell cocktail party.

Captain John Moulds hosts a group of guest s at his table for the Farewell dinner.


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