Tom & Holly Travels
since 2004

Subject: Day 7, February 25 – The Drake Passage (A day at sea)

     Ok, I have learned that this is not bad. We only have three meter seas and the last voyage had ten meter seas. At ten meters the decks are closed plus the dining room. At lunch I found out that it was one rogue wave that did things in during the storm. It was so bad that everyone had pretty much gone to bed. The rouge wave knocked the captain down and he needed stitches. That is why we have a new captain for this cruise. That was a ten day cruise and they had to sail the Drake Passage twice.  I think I am really glad we only have to cross it once. They tell us that today’s waves are residual from the storm.

    This is a day at sea filled with lectures on animals, geology, and history. I find it extremely fascinating, but not all may feel the same. Wanted you to know what followed.

    I am now an expert on Albatrosses, well not an expert, but last night I thought they were sea gulls. Shows how smart I am. The quote from the ships daily itinerary reads, “I now belong to a higher class of mortals, for I have seen the albatross.”  I am about to learn all about glaciers.

     Is there global warming? Our resident “ice” scientist, Joe, says, “Yes.” 2008 had the worst loss of ice - ever. Scientists bring up ice rings to tell the story. Why care about ice melting? Well, of course, the obvious is rise in sea level, but few of us will be here when that occurs. For an example on more current events that will happen in a matter of just a few years, however, is the devastation of any forest that counts on salmon spawning up stream. Some facts I did not know: Warmer temps mean more salmon with disease and of course streams with less water due to evaporation. Large streams give more salmon a chance to spawn. After salmon spawn they die and are food for bear and birds. More than that, the birds and bear carry the salmon off into the forest. The forests around these streams grow in extremely poor soil, but the fish parts brought into the forest by the bear and birds work as a wonderful fertilizer for the forest. So – warm temps, fewer fish, less birds and bear because of no food, and the forest dies which is home to many other animals. The cycle of life is so very fragile. Our resident “ice” geologist left us with two quotes, “Civilization exists by geological consent – subject to change without notice.” And “Study nature, not books.” Go field trips!

      Ice berg trivia: Blue ice has very little air trapped. The whiter the ice, the more air trapped inside, and green ice has trapped air plus algae.

      Forgot to mention one of our stops yesterday in Ushuaia. We stopped at a dog sled farm. This farm has entered races all over the world and had trophies everywhere. Dog sled racing in South America is very popular in the winter time. Something I would have never believed. They had a team hooked to a sled on wheels, and I have some fantastic video of it. The dogs get so excited when they think they are going to run. It reminded me of an agility show.

    While we were inside their trophy/photo room, we saw a photo of the real “Eight Below” dogs. This one dog was huge with a coat like a musk ox. The dog had to weigh 250 pounds. It looked more like a gigantic St. Bernard than any sled dog. No wonder he could survive an Antarctic winter.

    It is getting rougher with swells splashing onto the third deck. You must imagine me writing this with the chair sliding back and fourth, and I even have it tied down. The computer is on a non-slip rubber matting. Walking around the ship is a great deal of work and you are quite winded when you go anywhere. I guess it is a different way to get exercise.

     After lunch, I stood out on the back deck for about an hour and just watched the albatrosses soar all around us over a rolling sea. Magnificent!


More to follow,

Tom & Holly