Soon after the MV Hondius left Ushuaia, Argentina, we headed through Beagle Channel towards the dreaded Drake Passage. More to come later on our incredible crossings of the Drake later. Our first sighting of land was Elephant Island, named for its once huge population of Elephant Seals. Unfortunately, weather proved too dangerous to attempt an approach of the shores of Elephant Island.
For those not familiar, if you’ve not read about or seen documentaries about the explorations of Ernest Shackleton, watching restored old color movies and stills from the early 20th century do not do justice to what these men endured to survive. Resting in the comfort of your warm living room, on your cozy couch, with your TV remote and refrigerator nearby, one cannot possibly appreciate the conditions of this isolated island in the Southern Ocean. The extreme cold, exceedingly high winds, blinding snowstorms, being forced to cross deadly and unfathomable glacial crevices were only a few of the challenges these men faced. And they considered themselves very fortunate to survive long enough to get off the ocean and to the safety of dry land.
My images were shot from a distance of a mile or more, with bitter cold and harsh winds, and occasional freezing rain or snow pelting our ship, me and my camera. We were scheduled to make landfall and visit the memorial, but it was impossible to attempt a landing.