Saturday, 23 January 2010

Sir Francis Drake and Drake Passage

Sir Francis Drake was a captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, a politician and a pirate. He was a hero to the English and was feared by the Spanish.
We anticipated a day with his namesake, Drake Passage, with nervous trepidation. Would our experience be something more akin to the actions of the violent pirate or the smooth politician? All of us were aware of the Drake’s justified reputation. The roughest body of water in the world. Sure, there are other bodies of water in the world with storms just as tempestuous as here but nowhere are there cyclones circling with such fierce frequency
Some of us wished for a storm. An adventure. They wanted to see whether this was all rep or real. Not me. Never me. Why ask for an adventure that does not have an off switch. There is no getting off of this roller coaster until Drake decides.

It turned out that today was a near perfect Drake Day. There was enough motion to the ocean to placate the adventurous souls amongst us and yet not so much as to confine too many of us to our cabins. There was sunshine. There were patches of blue sky. It was wonderful really.
The conditions were also ideal for the many seabirds about the ship throughout the day. There was enough wind to keep the albatross and various other seabirds effortlessly aloft, This morning from 10:00 until 12:00 we joined our lecture team on the upper aft deck to o-o-o! and a-h-h! as majestic Wandering albatross glided by. They are truly seabird royalty. We also saw; Southern Giant Petrels, White-chinned Petrels, Prions, Wilson’s Storm Petrels and Black-bellied Storm Petrels
Throughout the day the winds dropped. The seas dropped. Perhaps the next Drake will better suit the storm chasers amongst us. I hope not.

Fantastic conditions for our bird watching session. However, the company of two cups of coffee
would have made it ideal.