Subject: Day 8, February 26 – The Drake Passage Second Day
Tom thinks he now has the computer on ship figured out, and some of you have missed a few emails but you get the idea. The real adventure starts tomorrow when we go onto Deception Island on zodiacs. Right now we have sun which is considered very rare in Antarctic. After lunch, we went for a walk outside the ship and IT IS COLD! You can also taste the salt in the air. We are expected to make three landings tomorrow baring any change in weather.
Part of the adventure is certainly the rock and roll of the ship. I am not surprised because the Polar Star’s is only 86.5 meters (281 ft long) by 21.2 meters (69 ft wide). Ice breakers also have flat hulls. They can drive up onto the ice and then the weight of the ship breaks up the ice. The flat hull makes for rock and roll as well. It is not like cruise ships where they have stabilizers either. We were told that if the captain has more than a 30 degree tilt from starboard to port, he has to alter his course. He tries to keep the ship at no more than 25 degrees tilt which gives you a 50 degree variation between the ship tilting starboard and then back 50 degrees to the port side. Anyway you get the idea of why walking on board is so difficult. Last evening as the ship would roll from side to side you could often hear the dishes sliding off of the tables. Even the crew, who walk much easier than we passengers, have trouble occasionally. One person in our group has not been seen since we arrived. She has never been on any ship before and airplanes bother her. You would think she may have checked out what ship travel is like before daring the Drake Passage. Even Drake himself never crossed it. After a short trip into the passage, Drake turned around, never to enter it again.
We have now had our briefing which covers the IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Guidelines) rules covering our behavior in Antarctica. Sort of amazing how far we humans have come! The first explorations of Antarctica were strictly for taking of seals and whales. They killed hundreds and hundreds in a day. Wonder any are left at all for us to enjoy now. There once were penguins in the Arctic too, but human kind hunted them into extinction.
Just returned from our first pre breakfast Zodiac landing on Antarctica and it was fantastic. Will write more about it tomorrow but don’t know what we are going to do the the 50 to 100 pictures of penguins and 50 to 100 pictures of fur seals. They are so friendly you can walk right up to them. It was snowing when we took the Zodiacs back to the boat. Now it is time to eat breakfast and then another landing in a different location.
More to follow,
Tom & Holly