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02/07/2009

At sea Drake Passage and Beagle Channel

More blue skies and calm seas! With our accompanying flock of seabirds, Minerva was approaching Cape Horn, the boundary between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. We reached our nearest point, 12 nautical miles – the limit of Chile's territorial waters – at 9.50. Before we turned to starboard to head for the Beagle Channel, Suzana pointed out the headland of Cape Horn, then Bob described how this rocky coastline is the graveyard of many ships that failed to 'round the Horn'. There is now a monument in the form of an albatross to the drowned sailors and it bears a poem in Spanish by Sara Vial.

Peter Clarkson gave the final enrichment lecture 'A Fid in the 60s – Life at Halley Base'. MORE TO COME

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 videographers that would be available for sale.

The last formal gathering was to watch a slide show prepared by the Expedition Staff that recalled many of the highlights of the cruise. We had made landings in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Orkneys, South Shetlands and the Antarctic Peninsula, together with the 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 afternoon, Minerva came into the shelter of land, steamed back up the Beagle Channel and during the evening Ushuaia came in sight. So ended our cruise aboard Minerva. We will leave tomorrow to go our separate ways – perhaps to meet again aboard one day.

We have pictures, videos, journals and most importantly vivid memories of a land almost too magical and captivating to describe. Now that we have experienced 'the Ice,' we shall never forget it. Shackleton once wrote: 'Indeed the stark polar lands grip the hearts of the men who have lived on them in a manner that can hardly be understood by the people who have never got outside the pale of civi¬lisation.'
 

   

Plotting a course to Cape Horn.

Looking at 'The Horn' in the background.

It is a good day to catch up with organizing photographs.

Part of the spread at Gourmet Galley Afternoon Tea.

The Expedition Team.


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