Ship's Route:
From 14 to 17
Tuesday, 27/11/2001 through
Wednesday, 28/11/2001: Typhoon in Drake Passage
Noon navigation report from the bridge (Wednesday):
Location:Drake Passage
Latitude:60°26'S
Longitude:065°08'W
Speed:11 Knots
Air Temperature:7°C/45°F
Sea Temperature:0°C/32°F
Wind Speed/Direction:  Force 10/West

The protected waters of the connected channels and harbors that run along the inside passage of the Antarctic Peninsula had given us smooth journey such that the only motion we could feel while on board was that of the ship going forward or turning from side to side. On this particular evening the ship was at anchor, and so sleep that night was like in a hotel room on land. This is probably why at precisely 4:00 am a brief, but sudden and distinct motion of the ship brought me to waking reality. I listened carefully, but everything was quiet, and the ship appeared to be as still as when we went to bed, but some nagging doubt made me slip quietly from my warm covers and climb several decks up to the bridge. At four in the morning the sun was beginning to rise, and I expected to be rewarded for my early awakening with a gorgeous view of the harbour. I could hear the wind howling outside as I pushed open the door to the bridge, but I was surprised to find the room a beehive of activity: the captain and first mate were both on hand, which is unusual in itself when the ship is at a anchor, and crew members were rushing in, speaking in hushed tones with the captain, and then rushing out again. I then looked out the front bridge windows and noticed that the mountains surrounding the harbour were missing. In fact, the entire harbour was gone. It was almost as if someone had painted over the glass with white paint. It was a white out, and thick large flakes of snow were driven horizontally into the windows, reducing visibility to only a few dozen feet.

I also noticed another odd phenomena: crew members were coming onto the bridge and taking photographs of the two barometers. One of the barometers was a standard wall mounted dial and the other a graph drawn onto a drum, much like a seismogram. The needle on the dial was quite literally pegged at the lowest possible value. Turning my attention to the graph I saw that the line had gone from a nearly straight line for the past several hours to a near vertical drop off the edge of the graph paper. A sailor then came in from outside, coated in snow, and said, "It's up, but it is broken in two, and the other half is missing." It turned out that he was referring to the anchor.

The storm we had watched forming the evening before had hit as a wall of wind and snow traveling at 80 knots, and the force of it had shorn the arms off our anchor and set the Adventurer adrift. This must have been what startled me from sleep. I returned back to our cabin, unconcerned for the time, because the ship's crew, although excited about the storm, seemed quite confident in their actions. After a couple of hours of sleep we both woke up and went to breakfast. The snow was still obscuring all views, and it was decided that we needed to make a run for the open water and try and beat the worst of the storm across Drake Passage.
The crew went through the entire ship and closed all the ports and covered all of the lower windows. The forward lounge, our spot for primary social gathering, became dark, but somehow cozy as all of the windows were sealed with aluminum hatches.

We spent most of the day in relative comfort, because we were still in protected waters, and the ship's stabilizers were more than equal to the job of compensating for the chop in the channels. By that afternoon however, we had reached the open water, and the ship was rising and falling much like the storm tossed Minnow had at the beginning of each episode of Gilligan's Island. Dinner was a rough affair, with the staff still trying to carry on as usual, despite the constant crashing of plates, crystal and silver onto the floor. That evenings presentation was less attended than any up until then, and by breakfast the next morning fewer than half the guests made an appearance.

By lunch time Elayne and I felt poor enough from the constant tossing and abrupt slamming of the ship up and into the on coming waves that we remained in our cabin for the rest of the day, desperately trying to pack away or tie down everything that would otherwise be thrown across the room.

And so both Tuesday and Wednesday passed without us taking a single photo, or even writing anything into a journal (the photographs above and on the right are from storms in the Drake Passage, but not of our storm or our ship).

Thursday, 29/11/2003 Cape Horn (Tierra Del Fuego)

Noon navigation report from the bridge:
Location:South of Cape Horn, South Pacific Ocean
Latitude:56°18'S
Longitude:067°17'W
Speed:10.7 Knots
Air Temperature:16°C/60°F
Sea Temperature:5°C/41°F
Wind Speed/Direction:  Force 10/West North West

By lunch time the Adventurer had raced far enough ahead of the storm that we felt well enough to leave our cabin, and we watched with gathering joy as Cape Horn finally came into view, and we sailed into the relatively calm waters of Tierra Del Fuego. Mists rose up from the surrounding islands, which is how the area received its name, and we relaxed and were able to once again the comforts of our nautical home. We sailed up the Beagle Channel and watched the land climb from low ridges climbing straight out of the water to a wide, mountainous land stretching away to the north.

As night fell (it actually got dark for the first time in over a week) we arrived at Ushuaia and docked. We ate our last dinner, the Captain's Farewell Cocktail and Dinner Party, and spent our last night on board the Adventurer. It seemed almost anti climatic after the storm, but we were happy that the ship was once again still, and we were looking forward to spending more than just a few hours on dry land again.

Gallery

Friday 30/11/2001 Ushuaia and Environs

Ushuaia was like a small European city nestled at the foot of the Alps, but with a South American flair. Ushuaia is in fact the southernmost city in the world, and was founded as a Argentinian penal colony for political "undesirables." The city now has a population of around 40,000 permanent residents, many of whom are the descendants of English missionaries who remained as farmers, of Yugoslavian and Rumanian miners, and of sailors from Spain and Italy who signed off or jumped ship here.

Unfortunately we had no time to explore the city, although I could easily see returning here and spending some to to explore on a another trip south. Instead we ate breakfast on our ship, and then boarded busses and visited nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park in the Pio River valley near Mount Susana, where we hiked about and watched the local wildlife. The park was nice, and it was a joy to be able to just walk again.

We returned to town for lunch, but spent it in a touristy spot just on the outskirts of town rather than in the heart of city, which was disappointing. Elayne and I opted to hike along the shore rather than participate in the tourist trap lunch, and rejoined our group when it was time to drive to the airport and catch our flight north to Buenos Aires. A note to others who may make the same trip: skip the bus tour and lunch, and spend the morning in the city on your own!

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