Our Antarctic Adventure – Part XIV

Sat, Feb 14th – Drake Passage

Palmer-Station-Iceberg-in-B Today we are speeding across the infamous Drake Passage, and as advertised it is not a mill pond. When we went to bed last night we were still sailing through pretty calm waters – by morning we were a third of the way across the passage, and were doing some significant pitching and rolling. When I went up to get Barbara’s morning coffee, I noticed the “barf” bags were hanging in containers on the stair railings. Judging from the heights of the waves, this ship and its crew are doing a masterful job of keeping the ship smooth and steady. By now most folks have their sea legs and are quite comfortable with the action. What a difference a day makes – it is all about location, location, location – and weather.

I am including a few more pictures from yesterday, just to keep your interest up.

Palmer-Station-Fur-seals-wi Our program for today included the following announcements:
Under the title of “Antarctic Forum”: This morning join Captain Halle Thon Gundersen, Ice Pilot Rear Admiral Jeffery Garrett USCG (Ret.) and Geologist, Adventure & Expedition Leader John Splettstoesser at 10:00am in the Queen’s Lounge. They will share with you their reflections about our incredible Antarctic Adventure to the great white continent.
When our Captain entered the room he received a standing ovation for the way he and his team handled this ship in those potentially dangerous waters. His philosophy is “to never do anything with your ship that will get a geographical rock named after you”! And he also stated when asked “Could we have sailed farther south than we did yesterday and if so why didn’t we?” His reply (paraphrased) “I will sail my ship anywhere in the world as long as I have correct charts, a competent crew, and enough water under the keel.” And to the second part of the question “Had we sailed farther south, we would not have been able to sail through the beautiful channels and straits that we did.” I think the consensus of those in attendance was that they would sail anywhere with this captain, and so would Barbara and I.

Palmer-Station-calm-bay-wit And under the title of “Palmer Sta. – Looking Back with Jack”: Jack Cummings joined in Buenos Aires as a fellow guest. But, like most of us on the ship, there is more to Jack than meets the eye. Jack was stationed at Palmer Station in 1965. His experience of 40 years ago was undoubtedly much different than our guests yesterday. (We bet there was no Super bowl coverage!) Join Jack at 11:00am for a short video presentation in the Queen’s Lounge after the Forum.
I had prepared a 15 minute slide/movie DVD with music, with scenes of life at the station. Afterward, I fielded a few questions. I think the presentation was well received and is being rebroadcast over the ships video channels. I had also presented a copy of the DVD to the Palmer Station personnel that visited yesterday.

This morning I received an email from Raydene, the Palmer Station Administration Officer with the follow description of what happened on their way back to the station:
“I don’t know if you could see from the Prinsendam yesterday, but on our way home there was a mother and baby whale feeding right close to our zodiacs, so we stopped and watched for about 20 mins.

It was so precious to see because everything mommy did, baby did.  So we’d see a huge humpback curving through the water, and right on her side like a tiny shadow was a tiny humpback curving through the water. So lovely.

Then while we were stopped, a lone and curious little fur seal kept popping up all around us looking into our boat.  He’d come up and peer at us from one side, slide down under the boat and pop up on the other side and peer in again at us, and so forth for about 6 or 8 good looks at us until he bored with us and swam off. (That is a fur seal in the ice flow picture with the penguins – JWC)

Mmmm Tasty Boat Now That's Scary! Then after the whales moved on we put it in high gear and headed for home – and a leopard seal thought he needed a good chase and came FLYING after us!  His eyes never left us as he bounded through the wakes behind us.  I have never seen a leopard seal swimming so fast or working so hard to catch up to anything.  It was really amazing to see. (She included a picture of a Leopard Seal taken last week)

As we were in the zodiacs surrounded by all lovely things of nature, we were thinking of you and wishing that you could be with us to share in our simple joys.” (Raydene)

Enjoy the pictures – tomorrow – Ushuaia, Argentina. JWC

One thought on “Our Antarctic Adventure – Part XIV

  1. The Bristo was very nice. Warren played his guitar. There were thirty people there and the youth did an excellent job. Chris presented Laura Melley with a set of spoons Frank made. Looked like she liked them very much. Sorry you missed it, but I know you are enjoying your trip very much. It was nice of you to give the presentation about when you were stationed at Palmer. I am sure everyone that heard it was impressed. Jess Elder is in hospital with pneumonia. Lu said when he gets out he will have to go to a nursing home. She is hoping it will be one in P.A.
    Have a smooth sailing from now on.

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