Drake Passage (Wed., 6/9/10) – Where the hell did everybody go?
by Andrew Westgate -- June 11th, 2010
We started our Drake crossing in earnest yesterday. While our sister ship, the Gould, had a very favorable passage last week (3 foot seas and winds less than 20 knots) we have encountered weather more typical of these waters i.e. wind and waves.
While not dramatic from a Drake perspective, we have had a steady 35 knots of wind and 8-10 m seas. The Palmer is a fantastic sea boat and rides the weather exceptionally well. We arerolling a bit with the seas but all things considered it’s been a great crossing thus far. I just got back from the bridge were Pat and I spent a few hours after breakfast. It was humbling to look out over the overcast waters and watch the bow crash through some of the bigger waves. We took a few “greeners” over the bow which sent white water up as high as the bridge deck (60ft). Makes you glad you’re on a 300 + foot ship! We are presently about 100 nm from the Straits of Lemaire and expect to reach it by tomorrow. From that point on the sea state should settle down a bit, but, I have been told (what else do you talk about on the bridge during all night tracking sessions??) that the wind speed in these waters can blow hard enough to “trip a snake”, so stay tuned. Remember it ain’t over until the fat lady throws the dock lines!
So things have been a bit more subdued aboard the old NB Palmer. The boat reminds me of a post apocalyptic scene from a Zombie movie…there is NOBODY around! I searched high and low and all the usual haunts have been abandoned.
After much searching I did stumble (literally) across a small pocket of humanity in the 02 lounge. While their faces did all have blank expressions, I fear that their possession has not come from being bitten by brain eating zombies but rather the demonic curse of the 48” flat screen! Yes movies and TV shows are a very popular way to pass the crossing time! While I certainly don’t oppose this pastime, I must say that some of the movie selections have been, well, surprising! They have, no doubt, been influenced by seasickness meds, lack of sleep and over indulgence in Rock Band (Goonies? Really?)
As a close to my final post I would like to thank everyone who was involved in this remarkable cruise. By any measure it has been successful beyond expectation. It was a wonderful experience to work again with old friends, as well as make some new ones along the way. Seeing this breathtaking wilderness first hand has been awe-inspiring. Words and pictures cannot do it justice; it must be experienced to be experienced. And, I guess, there lies the rub. To see Antarctica you have to live Antarctica, but to live Antarctica you forever change Antarctica. Let’s hope we find the right balance!