Back and forth we roll, to and fro, over (but certainly not under) the waves we go. Crossing the Drake Passage, now officially recognized as a body of water, is a mariner milestone that is never the same journey twice. Over 200 nautical miles of open ocean are at the mercy of the truly unbridled weather of the Southern Ocean. No mountain ranges stop or slow the winds that travel around the White Continent. Storms build and whip up an impressive sea state that tops out the scale used to measure such things. Winds simply continue in a clockwise rotation as they see fit. There are lulls between these systems, and with the right ship and team, a very pleasant crossing can be had.
National Geographic Explorer
Today was quite busy with many interesting presentations. In the morning, geologist Serguei Ponomarenko spoke about the geological history of Antarctica. Before glaciation wiped out thousands of species of the animals and plants that used to be here, Antarctica was once connected to Australia, and much earlier, it was connected to Africa, Madagascar, India, and South America. Later, Gerard Baker spoke about conservation efforts in the Southern Ocean. After lunch, National Geographic photographer Michaela Skovranova instructed guests on live editing of photographs, an essential skill after a memorable trip. The last activity before dinner was an Antarctica quiz. In the late afternoon, National Geographic Explorer entered the Beagle Channel. Almost immediately, the wind subsided, and the sky cleared. Guests enjoyed the spectacular scenery on the Chilean and Argentinian sides of the channel. After dinner, the ship docked in Ushuaia, and guests had an opportunity to spend a few late evening hours in this most southern town in the world.