[DAY 10] - At Sea, Drake Passage Northward

March 17, 2018

Our luck from our first Drake crossing south seems to stay with us for the morning as the moderately calm seas let our ship steam ahead at a smooth 11.1 knots. Andrew gives us all a reprieve from his dulcet tones, as Michael announcing breakfast at 8:00 am is the first thing anyone heard over the PA system.

While a few brave the stairs and smells of food, most were content to snooze a couple more hours until the first lecture of the day is announced. Nina talks about Early Explorers of Antarctica, and the trials and tribulations faced by the men who first dreamed that a continent such as Antarctica did exist and braved the icy southern ocean to substantiate their belief.

Out on deck, the sun breaks through and our first light-mantled Sooty Albatross of the voyage can be seen soaring off the port side of the ship. After that, it was time for more food, more fantastic things to stuff down our gullets, as we dared in the rolling swell of the Drake Passage.After a post-prandial nap, Phil regals us with information on the dinosaurs that may have once lived on the Antarctica continent. Among others, we learned a bit more about the duck-billed hadrosaurus (the rival of T-rex).

The swell picks up and the wind begins gusting at 40 knots. Passengers are slowly starting to disappear from our dining room with green-sick faces. At 6:30 pm, Sebastian and Andrew brief us all once again in the lounge, preparing us for the following days to come. The weather report comes in. Bad weather on the Drake passage coming our way.

By the way, today is St. Patrick, and I’m wearing my green jumper to commemorate my times in Ireland. After dinner, many of us gather at the bar for the Great Antarctic Quiz where quizmaster Phil shoot us questions from a wide-ranging scope of Antarctic trivia. From history to biology to geology, we had to rack our brains through and through to guess the answers each round. A group of Dutch wins the quiz. My group decides to drink some more and quiz ourselves openly on our best travel experiences so far. But we end up talking again and again about our last week.

It’s around 2.00am, and my kiwi friend Penelope suggests we go check what’s happening on the bridge. The boat is oscillating left to right, and we climb the steep stairs like rock-climbing a vertical wall. On the bridge, two guards on duty, inform us that the captain is asleep and that we should keep quiet as they focus on keeping the Plancius route north. We ask permission to head outside and tie a rough rope around our waist to avoid any improvised takeoff into the darkness. Looking back to this day, I realize how imprudent that seadog’s decision was.