Deception Island, Antarctica
62° 54' S 60° 30' W
Dec 17, 2003 08:38
Distance 0km

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Heading through the Drake Passage towards Ushuaia

We are heading back to Ushuaia. The morning started a bit windy and the ship was rocking and rolling a bit more than it has done so far. We had to be careful walking around the ship and it felt like as if we all had drunk a glass of wine so early in the morning. Well, some of us might have, you never know. The drawers under the bed opened and closed themselves automatically and you had to watch it, otherwise they hit you ankles. The term Drake-proofing the room, which that expedition leader had mentioned the night before made sense.

Breakfast was served in the dining room at 8:00. Some of us thought they could sleep a little bit later today as there are no landings anymore. Well, we were wrong. Just like on the way south through the Drake Passage we get lectures again. The weather was very cloudy and sight was limited, very limited. We were finally getting a bit more normal Drake Passage weather now.

The program of the day is as follows:

8:00 Breakfast is served in the dining room 9:15 Lecture Continents in Motion by Gary in the Observation Lounge 11:00 Lecture Ozone: the hole story by Melanie in the Observation Lounge 12:30 Lunch is served in the dining room 15:00 Lecture The Whaling History of the Antarctic by Scobie in the Observation Lounge 17:00 Lecture Shackleton, The Antarctic Challenge by Kim in the Observation Lounge 19:30 Dinner is served in the dining room 20:45 Video: Around Cape Horn, black and white from the twenties about tall-ship sailing around the Horn, a Classic.

Lectures Continents in Motion and Ozone 17 December 2003):

Gary's lecture was very interesting about plate tectonics and continental drift. The formation of the continents, an explanation of the mountain ranges in the world and where and why there are strings of volcanoes around the world. After Gary was finished and we opened the blinds of the Observation Lounge the weather had changed dramatically and the cruise had changed into a Caribbean cruise again. Clear weather with a very warm and bright sun. Unbelievable again.

I spent the time between the two lectures on the bridge, my most favourite part of the ship. So nice to watch the albatrosses and petrels circle around the bough of the ship and to stare at the horizon. As sudden as the good weather came up so sudden it disappeared and it was all grey again. The waves got bigger and the ship started to move up and down more and more, crashing into the waves and splashing huge amounts of waters over the bough and beside it. This is more like the Drake Passage.

Melanie's lecture about the ozon layer was also very interesting. Everything was explained clearly. From the definition of ozone to CFK's and satellite photos of how thin that layer is and during what time of the year it is thinnest. Very interesting!

The Cottage Pie and Dulce de Leche Ice cream for lunch combined with the cheese platter and salad that comes with every meal was nice again but the bumpy cruising did not make it comfortable to eat. With about 10 knots an hour we are still cruising towards Cape Horn where we will arrive tomorrow later during the day.
Lectures Whaling History of the Antarctica and Shackleton (17 December 2003):

The afternoon lecture by Scobie about the history of Whaling in the Antarctic waters was fascinating again, although I fell asleep three times. These are long days and you can only drink that much black coffee on a day. The first whaling station was established in 1904 in South Georgia. In 1906 floating whale factories began operating in sheltered bays like Whalers Bay on Decepcion Island where we stopped yesterday morning. World War I caused a boom in the demand for whaling oil and turnover three-folded during this period. In 1930-1931 41 factory ships were operating in the area and 232 catchers operated. 3.6 million barrels of whale oil was produced in this season, 97% of the world total. N 1939 the first efforts were made to regulate and limit whaling activities as stocks were depleted. The 1938 season resulted I the biggest catch ever, 46.000 whales were taken from the Southern Ocean. In 1965 whaling activities ended in the Antarctic. During the 1904-1978 period 1.432.862 whales had been taken from the Southern Ocean. Illegal whaling still happens occasionally in these waters that are difficult to patrol.

The last lecture of the day about explorer Shackleton and his adventures to the South Pole was by far the most fascinating lecture of the whole journey so far. If I only had had a history teacher like Kim Heacox then I might have ended up as a historian myself. This man can tell a story. Very impressive. He studied the journals of the explorer and even wrote a book about Shackleton. It won't be long before I will read that book I guess. The high waves surrounding us added just that little touch to Kim's talk.

Dinner was served and today we had the a Sweet Corn Chowder Soup for starters with the salad bar and for the main dish we could choose from Breaded Pork Escalope served with House Butter or Polar Star Fish Cakes (a blend of Haddock, Shrimp & Scallop, pan fried, served with a Fresh Basil-Tomato Sauce) or Mediterranean Crepes (Homemade crepes, stuffed with Tomatoe, Olives & Gruyere Cheese. The dessert was a delicious Blueberry Shortcake. I am going to miss that food!

The evening entertainment was a fabulous black and white movie, an amateur movie made in 1928 about a sailing around the infamous Cape Horn in the stormiest weather ever known by mankind. Unbelievable footage and narrated by the original film maker, more than 50 years later. Those were the old times. Huge sails and very high to climb in without safety ropes etc.. Huge waves coming over the deck while everybody was trying to lower the sails or getting them up. Fantastic footage and a good preparation of what was yet to come.