Friday, 10 December 2010

Jekyll and Hyde

The Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was a novel written by George Louis Stevenson and published in 1866. It tells the story of a friend of the main protagonist who suffered from split personality. Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Drake Passage had a split personality today. In the morning we enjoyed the gentle side of the Drake Passage with light breezes and smooth seas. The sun shone as well which added to the soft feeling of the crossing. Albatrosses and petrels of various sorts followed the ship and flew to one side or the other, gaining advantage in the lee of the wind.

Then, as the day progressed, the winds picked up and by the time mid-afternoon arrived we had 25m/s or 50 knot winds and high waves. Dr. Jekyll had transformed into Mr. Hyde! Later, as we approached the South Shetland Islands, the wind and waves calmed down but we were left in no doubt about the nasty side of the Drake.

This morning we crossed the Polar Front, that is, we are within the cold waters surrounding Antarctica and south of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current – i.e., we ARE in Antarctica! And after attending the mandatory IAATO briefings, our passengers are able, and very eagerly looking forward, to landing in this fabulous continent.

Although we have not been buffeted by high winds, we have all day long been exposed to a light breeze, which is nice because it has brought birds with it. This day we were accompanied by 5 elegant and graceful light-mantled sooty albatrosses, which followed the vessel for a couple of hours – and allowed photographers to give it a try to capture that most difficult and elusive beast: the bird in flight. Here are some of the shots we managed to get.