Thursday, 1 December 2016

Into the South Atlantic

Events of Wednesday, 30th November

We’d spent the previous night at anchor in calm seas just off Deception Island with the intention of letting the unfavourable weather system pass before we entered the unprotected waters of the South Atlantic and the uncertainties of the Drake Passage to reach our destination at Ushuaia.

We raised the anchor at around 6.30 a.m. and initially sailed north with Deception Island on our port side (left), turning west to pass to the north of Deception Island with the main South Shetland Island chain to starboard.

Into the South Atlantic: "the main South Shetland Island chain to starboard".

The wave action was noticeably increased after our turn but conditions were still quite comfortable and I took breakfast as normal, although the restaurant seemed quieter than normal.

I attended the first lecture of the day by Hans Peter talking about Water but, once we were clear of Snow Island, the ship turned northwards to head for Ushuaia, passing through the Boyd Strait between Smith Island (to port) and Snow Island (to starboard). The wave action became significantly greater, with occasional waves much larger than the average. With some difficulty, I made my way through the ship to the restaurant for lunch. There were definitely far fewer people taking a meal and the buffet selection on offer was less than normal. The expedition team estimated the waves at 4 to 5 metres.

Passing through the Boyd Strait.

The meal was punctuated by the occasional crashing noises as tableware was deposited on the floor in different parts of the restaurant in response to a lurch from the ship. Although I took only a carefully-selected light lunch, a little later I started to feel rather queasy and decided to rest in my cabin, in the hope of attending another lecture later in the afternoon.

The amplitude of the larger waves must have increased further because loose items started to move around in the cabin. All my papers with notes on the trip were swept from the desk and fanned across the floor. Dozing off, I was rudely awakened as an unused wine cooler and cake stand (provided as standard cabin equipment) became dislodged and loudly rattled across the floor. On a few occasions, daylight was suddenly excluded from the cabin for a couple of seconds as a larger-than-normal wave completely obscured the rectangular window. Once, the sea water was thrown against the window with such a loud ‘bang’ that I half-expected the very-thick, toughened glass panel to shatter.

Into the South Atlantic: My elephant 'went to pieces' during the heavy weather.

I didn’t attend the lectures in the theatre, although I did switch the television to channel 9 which gave the sound-track of the lecturer plus the associated slides being displayed in the theatre. The rest of the time, I would normally leave the television on channel 1 which gave a moving-map display of position, speed, heading and wind.

Into the South Atlantic: Television Channel 1 gave a moving-map display of position, speed, heading and wind.

The Drake Passage had been kind to us on our way south but seemed to be living up to its fearsome reputation as we returned north. However, I think my first passage south through the Drake Passage back in 2008 was probably worse.

I decided to remain in my cabin for the evening and take only a very light snack, eventually taking one of the little blue Meclizine tablets supplied by reception for motion sickness. Within 30 minutes or so I felt incredibly drowsy and the erratic lurches of my world seemed less important. I lay on top of the bed and succumbed to sleep.

Related Posts

Next post describing this trip: Returning across the Drake Passage.
All posts describing this trip: Chilean Fjords.
Just posts on the Antarctic segment: Antarctic Peninsula.

My pictures

Where necessary, clicking on an image above will display an 'uncropped' view or, alternately, my pictures from this (and earlier) trips may be selected, viewed or downloaded, in various sizes, from the albums listed:-

Into the South Atlantic.
'Silver Explorer'.
All my pictures taken in Antarctica on both this visit and my earlier visit in 2008 are in the collection here.

[Links to pictures and pictures added 10-Feb-2017]