The Drake Passage – Getting to Antarctica

Have you heard about the Drake? And no not, the rapper, but the most tumultuous seas you’ve ever experienced…

Well we were fortunate as we experienced the “Drake Lake”, with some of the calmest seas one could hope for during a two day open water crossing.

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The hardest part was probably the constant drowsiness and cotton mouth from our prescription strength motion sickness patches. Everyone was passed out in the lounge area during the crossing as a result.

The crew did a great job filling our time with unique experiences and nature talks.

There are two important milestones as one gets closer to Antarctica – Passing the 60th parallel which is the physical boundary of Antarctica and crossing through the Antarctic Convergence zone which is the biological barrier of Antarctica. The second barrier varies seasonally and indicates where the colder Southern Ocean water meets the water of the Northern Oceans. It is determined by a much colder water and air temperature.

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Sorry it’s a little fuzzy…

We had contests on the boat to guess when we would pass these two barriers, when the first iceberg would be spotted, and when the first whale would be spotted. I won one of these but can’t remember which! I was gifted with a bottle of champagne!

Okay back to more about the Drake crossing. A crew member told me that during a bad crossing, everyone is confined to their cabins, portholes are closed, wedges are put in place in beds (think of a little kid and putting a wedge in the bed so they don’t fall out, we had these in our rooms), and all individual items are put away or risk being hit in the head. Any item on the desk on the opposite side of the room would end up in bed with you…

We avoided all of that.

Unfortunately on the way back, some of us may have gotten a little cocky… thinking that we were just fine without our patches… Well we were proven wrong even with a still relatively calm crossing. Our patches were quickly put on after taking some pills to get an immediate effect while waiting for the patches to kick in. A nap cured our problems and we enjoyed the rest of our crossing, even though it meant the end to our trip…

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