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12/18/2009

At sea Drake Passage and Beagle Channel

With our accompanying flock of seabirds, Minerva was approaching Cape Horn, the boundary between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The sea was still quite calm and the weather bright. We reached our nearest point, 12 nautical miles, at 6 o'clock in the evening, and were close enough to see the grey outline of the headland of Cape Horn, the graveyard of many ships that failed to 'round the Horn'. There is now a monument on the Cape to the drowned sailors in the form of an albatross.

Photo Coach Richard Harker gave his last and all-important lecture "I've got the shot – now what do I do?" With digital cameras, everyone has taken hundreds of images which now need to be sorted, stored and even electronically enhanced. Richard pointed out some of the features of digital cameras that we should bear in mind when we upgrade to a better model. Richard was followed 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. More entertaining was the preview of the DVD that has been made of the expedition, which will be available for sale.

As we approached the Cape, Ralph Eshelman gave a fascinating lecture on the history of ships rounding the tip of South America, from Magellan and Drake to the clippers and windjammers of the 19th century. There was time to spend on deck having a last view of the albatrosses that having been enlivening our sea passage before the Gourmet Galley Afternoon Teatime and finally the last formal gathering to watch a slide show prepared by the Expedition Staff that recalled many of the highlights of the cruise. We had made landings on the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula, and had shipboard experiences of whales, albatrosses and icy landscapes. So much has happened in a short space of time that it took many slides to do the experience justice!

During the evening, Minerva came into the shelter of land, steamed back up the Beagle Channel. So ended our cruise to Antarctica. We will leave tomorrow to go our separate ways – perhaps to meet again aboard one day.
 

   

A full spectrum of choices can be found in the Verandah Restaurant at breakfast

Late morning coffee is available in the Wheeler Bar on Bridge Deck

As we approach South America, we're comfortable on deck in only shirtsleeves

The Ganesan family enjoys a quiet game of cards to pass the time at sea

The talented Elmer Lalic has illustrated a sea chart of our voyage to be raffled for the Crew Welfare Fund


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