Thursday, 18 November 2010

A day on the Drake

There is only one band of latitudes on Earth where you can go around the world and never hit land. South of the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego lies the Drake Passage and all the waters of the Southern Ocean flow through this 600 nautical mile gap from west to east. Today we entered the dreaded Drake from Antarctica and as the day passed, the wind blew stronger and stronger.

By late afternoon we had 10 metre/30+ feet waves and storm-force winds. The sun stayed out though, and at least it did not look quite so angry outside. The Fram is excellent in these sea conditions and our lecture program was very well attended by passengers. Many feel cheated if they do not experience some waves on the Drake. None of us felt cheated today.

Through the day we were accompanied as usual by Cape Petrels and a few Southern Fulmars but the main story again were the dramatic waves.

Oh and before we forget, last night we had a good old fashioned snow storm while sailing near the South Shetland Islands. Keen birders on board were fascinated to see that these conditions attracted an almost fully leucistic (note the dark eyes) Emperor Penguin on deck. How this amazing bird clambered up the side of the ship is an enigma.

Temperature range for the day 1°C - 5°C.