““All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
Day 9 – Open Sea, The Drake Passage (Day 1)
We woke up to a gently rolling boat and the captain telling us that we were really lucky with the weather. The Drake can be hideous and we were all happy to get good news! There was a heavy mist hanging over the boat though and we couldn’t really see anything, so the crew had plans to keep us entertained. Every few hours we could go to a lecture about Antarctica in either English or Spanish. The first was about Birds though, and as I am not much of a birdwatcher, I thought I would see how much of it I could understand in the Spanish. I was surprised though, as they gave a different lecture about how Antarctica was a continent of extremes. I didn’t understand it all but am pretty pleased that I could get about 80% of what was said.
In the afternoon we started to chat with some of the other passengers. There is a surprising number of people near our age, which is great. We had thought that due to the cost of the trip, it may be an older demographic, but there are a few other backpackers! It seems to be a good group of people on board and with a small boat, that’s great.
We ended Day 1 with another movie night – this time the nature documentary Earth. It’s got gorgeous cinematography, but the narration is terrible, and as much as I’m a fan of James Earl Jones, I’m not sure Darth Vader is the best choice to talk about the mating habits of polar bears. Give it a miss and see any of the BBC documentaries instead.
Off to bed to see how bunks and high waves work…
Cape Petrels – 8
Giant Petrel – 1
Scary Moment of the day – Even with a calm sea, at one point in the night, there was a big swell, and both Jon and I woke up thinking ‘Oh my god, what if we tip!!’
Day 8 – Aboard the MV Ushuaia, Beagle Channel, Tierra Del Fuego
We spent the morning getting ready for our trip – charging the computer, packing our bags, and sending off the last minute blogs. At 3:30p, we headed to the pier to find our boat, the MV Ushuaia! We walked down the pier, past huge freighters with towers of container boxes, rusting commercial fishing boats, and a few other passenger ships before stopping in front of the Ushuaia, an ex-American scientific boat.
We handed them our bags and got some great news – we’d been upgraded from our super budget room in the bowels of the ship! Actually, as we soon found out, we’d been upgraded two levels, and found ourselves on the most desirable deck in a room with a private bathroom! Excellent!
We settled in and then went down for a briefing of the ship features and safety procedures, followed by a lifeboat drill. In the bar area afterwards for a bon voyage champagne toast (yay!!), we met a few of the other travellers, Fergus from Ireland, Zach from San Francisco, and Sarah from Australia.
After dinner, they showed a really interesting documentary on the Njordenskold expedition of 1901, where all team ended up being shipwrecked on the Antarctic Peninsula for 3 years before getting rescued. Amazing stuff, and we hope to be able to land where the remains of their settlement was.
Tonight we go through the most difficult sea route on the planet, the Drake Crossing. Dramamine at the ready!!
Day 8 – Ushuaia, Argentina
We leave tonight for our biggest adventure – Antarctica!! As we will be as far away from civilisation as possible on this planet, its very unlikely that we’ll be able to post. But we’ll have loads of pictures and a daily blog from our journey when we return in 10 days time!
In the meantime, wish us the best of luck, and see you after returning from the Last Continent!!!
-Jon and Erika
Actual beaver shots from Ushuaia below!
Dont tell me you were expecting something else?