Our Antarctic blogger Brendan has arrived back from his journey to world’s end on our 10-night Antarctic Explorer trip. Here’s the second blog of his adventure. You can find his first on Brendan’s website...
There is something about the open seas. In many ways they are much like the prairies, where to the casual eye they seem flat, bland, and monotonous. The eye hopelessly stretches itself out upon the horizon desperate for some sort of reassurance that something exists beyond the earth’s curvature. Despite the desolation of these two landscapes they often lead you to stare off into the unknown in child-like curiosity. In the case of the Drake Passage, what lies beyond is one of our world’s final frontiers: Antarctica.
The Drake Passage is famous for its rough seas. More than a few have been worn out from the rolling seas of “The Drake.” The waves of the open ocean seem to roll like hills, but unlike hills, the ripples of the sea do not wait for us to decide when we will cross them. Tall, often white-capped swells crash into the bow of passing ships sending painfully cold sea water to run onto the decks. But somehow despite the desolation and difficulty of crossing the Drake, there is a certain beauty to the passage.
Regardless of the hundreds of nautical miles from any form of land, seabirds soar gracefully alongside the ships as they cruise through the open blue water. In the distance the dorsal fin of a transient whale pokes through the water’s surface giving an idea of as to the value of the life that exists below. For moments everything can become calm, the waves stop crashing, the heavy wind takes a break from its constant howl and the sounds of the seascape can lend peace to your ears. However, like a child, the sea is constantly changing from calm to storm.
The movement of the ship has a way of making people look as if they are learning how to perform the most basic functions for the first time. The simple steps involved in walking become a tango-like dance that forces one to take their steps in mirror image to their dance partner, in this case, the sea. Dining room chairs slide from side to side and shaving containers left on the shelves rock forward and backward, dancing to the ship’s delight. The floor at the base of the shower turns itself into a water-park’s wave pool. After a while, we all are forced to become one with the sea. We walk when it allows us to walk, and we cross when it allows us to cross. In fact, we all learn to use the movement to our advantage, climbing stairs on the right bounce makes the climb easier, or allow the movement to close doors for us. We, become one with the Drake Passage.
“Ahh, the open seas,”
As I stand at the bow looking out into a calm Drake Passage the adventurer in me begs for the seas to try and toss us. I heckle the gods of this great ocean, hoping to entice it to begin to shake. I love it when the ocean moves, it reminds me that I’m at sea. Unfortunately for me, however, the seas remain calm, the passage is coming to a close, and in the distance I can see land on the horizon.
Read Brendan's previous Antarctica post How to pack for Antarctica over on Brendan's Adventures. Stay tuned as Brendan continues his journey through Antarctica. Coming up Brendan writes about his first excursions, landing at the South Shetland Islands. And later, Brendan recounts his time at the somewhat creepy location "Deception Island".