— Dane Creek

Day 6: Drake Passage. Still.

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

I slept through the night just fine and woke up at 6:30 very hungry for breakfast. We’re still heading towards the peninsula at around 11 knots. Open ocean is BORING. Did I mention it’s boring? Because if I didn’t, it’s boring. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the trip overall (it’s fantastic) but there’s only so many times you can look out the window and see water and clouds and be entertained.

To help pass the time today we had a number of lectures. Bronwyn from Quark did a presentation on the geology of AA. Steve did a presentation on white balance, exposure, histograms, and composition which was mildly interesting. Jeff Schewe did a presentation on Camera Raw, which was also mildly interesting.

The highlight of today was sitting next to Jeff Schewe at both breakfast and lunch and giving him little digs on the side. Anne will appreciate this: I managed to leave him speechless. I was eating plums next to him when JP reacted to something Jeff said and wanted to throw something at Jeff. I offered my fresh, uneaten, plum, to which Jeff said “That’d be a waste of a good piece of fruit”. My reply? “Not necessarily”.

Oh. Snap.

We had our mandatory safety briefing on doing zodiac landings. By late tonight we expect to be able to see the South Shetland Islands and basically be out of the Drake Passage, hopefully around 8pm. We finally saw our first whale today too, although all I got to see was its back as it made a dive below water. I’m not sad though there should be more.

I’ve got my sea legs figured out. I can reliably walk down the 4th floor hallway from one end to the other without needing to hold onto any railings or crashing into walls. It’s all about leaning against the lean of the boat. I will try and get someone to do some video of it. It is quite fun!

It’s 6:15 and we can see land!!! Two lumps on the horizon. Yay!

We did our first landing today! At 8pm we anchored off the coast of Desolation Island. I went out in the first zodiac with a backpack full of gear and high expectations. It was rainy and cloudy. Not great picture taking weather at all. But we saw moss (wooo!), Weddel and fur seals, and chinstrap penguins. Penguin poo smells like zoo. I doubt I got any good shots here but it was great practice for what works and what doesn’t in my camera bag. For the landings tomorrow I’ll leave my 24-70mm lens behind and make sure to pack my rain cover!