After leaving Deception Island we set sail, North, across Drake Passage for Beagle Channel, then Ushuaia. The Drake crossing also meant more time for lectures including;
- 'Clouds' | History & geography of Deception Island | Included film of the British scientists escape (rescued by Chilean Navy helicopters) from the 1960s eruption.
- Eduardo | Aviation in the Antarctic | Aviation's role in exploration and supporting science today in Antarctica.
- Pippa | Whale research and citizen science | Included www.happywhale.com tracking (and notification when seen again) using distinctive features from tourist photos.
- Dr Karl: A myriad of topics; my minimal notes were just 'Alcohol in the Universe' and 'Andromeda the most distant object you can see with the naked eye; 2 million light years'.
A Dr Karl special presentation
Doctor Karl gave a talk on the night we were onshore camping and he was gracious to repeat it for us. We braved the ships lecture room, below decks up at the bow and nicknamed 'the vomitorium', and it was a brilliant presentation.
It covered his life of exploration (the custom Volvo 4WD he toured Australia's Outback in can be seen onscreen) and previous Antarctic visits. This included a recent visit to the Australian Casey Station which included the first (like ever) live Antarctic public radio broadcast to BBC 5 Live Science and ABC Triple J Science with Dr Karl.
This required a complex link of Satellite and Cable transmissions to Perth, Hobart, Boston then the BBC U.K. and back. Amazing that it worked at all, never mind well enough for broadcast quality. One handy tip from his talk, while discussing Antarctic Blizzards, is that you can only stand upright in a maximum wind speed (in knots) equal to your body weight (in kg). I won't be going out in anything over 70 knot winds!
It was awesome of Karl to repeat this talk, having heard the original broadcasts (as podcasts soon after) it was great to hear the backstory of his remote public radio show.
Not quite the Drake Lake
We'd been rather lucky on the way down but got a taste of what the Southern Ocean could deliver on the way back.
A stiff westerly beam wind (force 7, 20-30 knot - 50–61 km/h - 'high wind') gave Ortelius a permanent ~10° list, just due to windage, and we were sailing across a reasonable swell. Had to take care walking as everything was on a bit of a lean and moving.
I was still OK on the mild Sea Legs medication, but some were suffering. There were noticeably fewer people in the dining room at mealtimes. The only times I had a hint of motion sickness was:
- Leaning down too rapidly to pull on socks and thermals
- Filming the clip below. it's a time-lapse so took much longer to shoot than to view. Watching a motionless screen, ship movement being corrected by my Osmo phone gimbal, showing the motion of the ship was a little disorienting!
This captures one of the countless random chats which were a great aspect of the trip. They often spun out of presentations, sights seen, or just random encounters. Below Eduardo's talk on astronomy in Antarctica ended up with a bunch of us talking about space exploration and he showed a clip of the Cassini–Huygens Saturn Mission.
There is a distant link from that mission to Antarctica The Antarctic Cassini Glacier is named after Cassini map projection devised by French cartographer Dominique, comte de Cassini. His Great Grandfather, the Italian astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, was honoured in the Saturn mission name.
Not quite Cape Horn
Halfway across, halfway back to the real world.
The bridge was keeping an eye on the weather – we were racing to avoid an approaching storm system – and formulating alternative plans. Found out at one stage we were planned to be within sight of Cape Horn, a heading picked to minimise the cross-swell discomfort, but the weather abated, and we missed out on that bonus.
Buzzed by 'tross!
The howling beam wind whipping over the ship gave the Albatross an updraft to exploit and they made the most of it.
The warm dry bridge was an ideal place to watch them whoosh past.
Storms mean more talk time!
This part of the voyage, and rugged weather keeping everyone inside, meant time for plenty of talks including:
- 'Clouds' | Too hot to handle, the Global Climate experiment | A brilliant exploration of the history and likely future of our climate with a huge amount of research going on in the Antarctic.
In the Q&A Michael Rowan (Philosopher) commented that 'Climate Skeptics' [climate change deniers] should be called 'Climate Gullibilists'.
I think Michael coined this term – later saw it quoted by Dr Karl in a tweet (below) – as cannot find any references older than his 2014 blog post.
"sceptic" person who weighs the available evidence,& finds the current interpretation wanting.— Dr Karl (@DoctorKarl) December 26, 2019
That's not you.
The current evidence is quite clear about Global Warming.
I feel that you are a "gullibilist" (sorry, new word) - a person who is gullible and cannot recognise true data https://t.co/KK0yfB9zi3
Other presentations included:
- Pippa | The history of whaling | The rise and, mostly, fall of whaling and how populations are recovering.
- Dr Karl:
- Life on Enceladus | How there may be fish orbiting Saturn and much more (photo below)
- The Random Research Payoff | How pure research results in unexpected benefits.
- Mini-Talk on Geek Tipping | Example work out the amount you want to tip and round up to a scientifically significant number. So instead of $3.00, tip $3.14 especially if you are buying pie!
- The Anthropocene, surviving the age of humans | How humans have changed the planet
- Lucas | A comparison of the Arctic and Antarctic | Geography, Flora & Fauna, impact on global climate
- Koen | Antarctic Explorers to 1900 | History of exploration and the drive to discover
First sight of land, the entry to Beagle Channel beckons.
The seas were calmer, weather improving, even some sun, as we tracked North towards sheltered waters.
We were heading to overnight in Beagle Channel, the last evening would be calm!
Captain Yury Marin came down from the bridge to toast us and thank all the passengers for sailing with Oceanwide.
This included the premiere screening of a 20-minute video shot and edited by Werner (Photography Guide) over the duration of our voyage.
Every activity, every landing, everybody, featured at some stage even some fellow trying to photograph penguins...
I think it's fair to say there was not a dry eye in the room by the time it finished. I was also fortunate to be sitting where I could see Werner, watching our reaction to the screening.
I think, hope, he appreciated the impact it made; still does every time I view or think about it. It was provided (at no extra charge) as part of an incredibly special record of our voyage. Another example of the exceptional care and personal touches Oceanwide make a part of these voyages.
Seigi made the last call for dinner, another lovely meal, perfectly cooked lamb, from the awesome 'hotel crew'. It was going to be hard returning to the real world after this adventure, but tomorrow we do.
Day 10 – 3rd December 2019 | Drake passage
GPS position at 0800: 60°30.4 S 63°49.5 W | Air Temp: 3°C | Wind: WNW6 | Sea state: Slight
Day 11 – 4th December 2019 | Drake passage
GPS position at 0800: 56°26.2 S 66°08.6 W | Air Temp: 9°C | Wind: WNW7 | Sea state: Moderate