29-30th March – Return of the Drake Passage
written by Charlie
I was woken by the breakfast announcement on our first day back in the Drake Passage. I immediately stumbled my way to the dining hall to see only one person, out of our group of 14, already eating. The Drake Passage has been proving a true test of sea sickness this time around, with most people feeling at least somewhat under the weather. Eventually, more people traipsed through the doors, allowing us to start our surveying at 09:00 with just enough people being able to stand.
Arriving on the bridge, I could better see why so many people were feeling rough, with large swells easily reaching over the lower decks of the ship. There were also strong winds, with the outside decks closed. We wrapped up warmly and started surveying, however the wildlife seemed to be enjoying the weather as much as us, with few animals being spotted throughout the day.
Our perseverance eventually paid off however, with hourglass dolphins being spotted off the port side of the ship by Christy. Several bird species were also sighted throughout the day, much to the delight of Will. The rough seas made it difficult to stand however, with many people having to bow out before the end of surveying was complete and some even missed dinner!
The second day of our voyage through the Drake Passage began exactly like the first, with only Will, yet again, at breakfast. It seemed that more people had got used to the sway of the ship as there was a slightly higher turnout for surveys, however some people did have to back out due to sudden feelings of nausea.
As the day progressed, the sea calmed and we reached more sheltered waters at the entrance to the Beagle Channel. The calmer seas bought along a far richer amount of wildlife, with many sei whales being sighed for the first time in our trip. Multiple dusky dolphins also enjoyed bow riding on our ship, creating quite a spectacle for any onlookers. Multiple bird species also returned in great number such as many albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters.
As the final day of voyage drew to an end, we were invited for cocktails with the captain, giving us some time to look back and reflect on our trip to Antarctica. After several rounds of thanks given to the wonderful crew and staff, we watched a brilliantly put together compilation of photos of our trip made by Nina. Immediately after, we headed to the dining room where Will had provided us with several bottles of wine for our final night! More thanks and applause was given throughout the meal as we all enjoyed our final night on the ship.