— Dane Creek

Day 15: Drake Passage

(This is part of a series of re-posts from my trip to Antarctica in 2009)

The Drake started fine. I slept through the night no problems, and the day started beautifully sunny outside with wind under 20 knots. The sea was relatively calm as well. I lasted drug-free until around noon. Then I sat too long upstairs listening to presentations and things went south fast. I went back to my room and grudgingly put on a patch then had a four hour nap. That helped a great deal. Things are still sunny out but the seas are much choppier. We keep getting spray up over the windows on the 5th floor Panorama Lounge. I will get some video at some point.

I was up until midnight last night sitting with JP. He went through my roomie Steve’s photos which was fun to watch then went through a second set of selects from my collection. Good feedback all around.

Today we had a lecture from Seth on importing images into Lightroom. During the lecture I worked on geocoding the 5000ish photos that were still missing coordinate information. It’s slow going and there are a few landings where I don’t have GPS data. We’ll get a full tracklog from Joey though which I can probably use to fill in the holes.

Speaking of Joey, I’ve mentioned a few crew people here and there but never in much detail. Since we’re in the Drake and nothing much is happening this seems like a good time to do so.

The crew on the boat is fantastic. They’re all super friendly and funny and are doing an amazing job making our trip a success. The captain of the ship is Alexi, from Russia. He’s hella experienced sailing in icy conditions and was amazing to watch through some of the gnarly ice we went through. He’s also a smoking machine. It’s amusing to be on the bridge watching him drive the boat with a cigarette in one hand and his fancy sunglasses on.

George is the First Mate. He’s from Romania and is responsible for all the safety equipment on the ship and for doing daily safety drills with the crew. He’s absolutely hilarious. Today he’s dressed in a slick lime green shirt and tight black pants. He looks like he’s going to a club tonight! He’s also going to lend me his survival suit after his watch is over so I can get a photo of Minky in it.

Joey is the Navigator. He’s from the Philippines and charts our course on huge printed paper maps that he keeps organized in drawers on the bridge. This morning he was working on plotting a course to Denmark for the ship after the Antarctic sailing season is over. He also punches all the data into the ship’s GPS. Navigation is pretty much exactly like for planes. We plot a radial on the compass, follow that until we get to a waypoint, then change to a different compass heading. Right now our heading is 344°.

Alexi, George, and Joey take turns doing watches on the bridge. They each do 4 hours on and 8 hours off.

Kareen is our cabin steward and one of the lunch/dinner serving staff. She’s almost as funny as George. She had a bit of seasickness at the start of the trip but still did all of her work with a smile. Every morning we see her on the way to breakfast and she wishes us a good morning and asks how we slept.

Carlos is an able-bodied seaman. He’s basically an on-call guy to do just about anything. Often he’ll be on the bridge as a second set of eyes watching for wildlife, other ships, rocks, icebergs, etc out the window. He also goes and gets the on-duty guy coffee whenever they want it. He also helps us load/unload from the zodiac.

This is my last update from the ship as e-mail gets shut down at 9pm tonight for billing and whatnot. I hope you’ve enjoyed the notes from the ship. See everyone in a few days!