Drake Passage – Cape Horn – Ushuaia

Ushuaia, Argentina, Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The goal of the last 36 hours is to get through the Drake. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being very, very bad, the Captain says our Drake “tax” going down to Antarctica was a 5, and coming back a 6. Considering how many people were green, or were missing from meal times, or were eating toast and crackers…I’d have guessed at least an 8!

Land Ahoy! Cape Horn dead ahead!
Land Ahoy! Cape Horn dead ahead!
Whales
Whales
Approaching Cape Horn
Approaching Cape Horn

I couldn’t sleep last night for all the rolling and pitching. First of all, who would have thought that I’d get to know the difference between rolling and pitching??? Last night, we had many combinations of the two. Moving fast up, up up…a slight hesitation up top and then a lunge down-where you feel like your stomach stayed up top. Then for grins and giggles, a little roll before the next pitch up and lunge. Things fell off the night stand. Things fell off the desk. My camera bag, hanging on a peg over the bed, swung back and forth from 8 o’clock to 4 o’clock position. I saw water on the port holes, followed quickly by sky. Trying to sleep when you roll side to side and can feel your blood follow gravity. I worried about the cold water, the 300 mile distance between us and land or another boat. Scary night.

But now the Antarctica journey is over. We passed Cape Horn around noon and picked up our Beagle Channel pilot around 5 p.m. We should reach Ushuaia soon. Tomorrow is the day we fly to Santiago. Wednesday, we are on to Easter Island.

So, what’s left to tell about this amazing Antarctic trip? Everything! But then, how can I describe the 2,164 nautical miles we’ve traveled on the National Geographic Endeavor? Neither words, or pictures can really tell the story of the mountains, the sea, or the light. It is a magical place.

We made 11 Zodiac rides with 9 landings, 2 on the continent itself. We learned to put all that gear on in less than 5 minutes for landings: waterproof pants first, boots next, parka, sunscreen, life vest, hat, glasses, gloves, camera bags-in that order…and GO! The first Zodiac ride, I didn’t open my eyes. By the end, I was hanging off to get “the” picture.

Captain, Bryan and 2nd Captain
Captain, Bryan and 2nd Captain

We “boom-boomed” through fast ice with a Captain gifted in navigation and with a wicked sense of humor. His confidence, diligence, respect for everyone and an open bridge really set the tone for a wonderful journey.

We ate well. Those 5 chefs/cooks managed to get us through 11 days with fresh lettuce every day. There’s a soup chef…who in my eyes, is a god. You would not believe the variety of soups we had-each exceptionally tasty. My favorites: wild rice and ginger soup during the first Drake Crossing, butternut squash, and cauliflower cream. I also have to mention the veggie gnocchi, pistachio ice cream, and bacon for breakfast everyday! My goodness, we’ve eaten well!

So, now we’re packed. We’ve settled the accounts. Had the last recap and the last dinner. And now, the announcement that we are pulling into dock. It’s weird to see trees, lights of the town. Looks like a storm is rolling in. And I feel terrible for the folks boarding the boat tomorrow–they tell us the Drake Passage will not be pretty.

Bringing Endeavor in
Bringing Endeavor in
Moon over Ushuaia
Moon over Ushuaia

We’ll update you from Santiago if we have anything fun to share, otherwise, look for the next update on Thanksgiving Day from Easter Island.
Happy Thanksgiving!
Carol and Bryan

And… one last look back at the Endeavor docked in Ushauia, land’s end.

One last look back at Endeavor docked in Ushuaia
One last look back at Endeavor docked in Ushuaia
The Antarctic trip route
The Antarctic trip route

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