We’re excited for our journey ahead today, as we sail in the Drake Passage on a perfect sunny day, enjoying the seas and exploring our fabulous new ship.
From 1577-1580 the famous English explorer Sir Francis Drake, under commission by Queen Elizabeth, became the first Englishman to sail around the world. The Pelican, Drake’s ship, successfully navigated the Strait of Magellan. During this journey, the ship was blown as far south as 57°, demonstrating that there was open water south of South America.
The narrowest body of water between South America and Antarctica is called the Drake Passage, stretching from Cape Horn to the South Shetland Islands. Because there are no land masses at this latitude, an extremely powerful mixing of ocean currents is created. Antarctica is a continent surrounded by an ocean, the Southern Ocean. Flowing eastward around the continent, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current is the largest current in the world, carrying between 135 and 145 million cubic meters of water per second from west to east along a 20,000 km long path around Antarctica. The flow of this current is equivalent to about 150 times the flow of all the world's rivers combined.
Exploring, discovering and learning about the places we visit is key to our expeditions. We were introduced to our team of staff, and during our sea day we had a wonderful variety of presentations. Emmett Clarkin took us around the science behind the currents of the Southern Ocean. Our photo instructor Anna Mazurek gave us an Introduction to Photography with a breakout session to explore our gear and get ready to photograph magical moments. Later in the day we traveled back in time, with the one and only Tom Richie, through the history and stories of the early Antarctic expeditions.
For our evening entertainment we had a true movie night, including popcorn. Antarctica: A Year on Ice was an incredible movie that very effectively showed what it was like to live in Antarctica. Over a year at McMurdo Station, different people from various job positions – from scientists to the fire team to a retail store cashier – shared their experiences of spending a full year in Antarctica. Meanwhile, we were all thrilled with our luxurious conditions onboard our new elegant ship, National Geographic Endurance.