The Antarctic Sound is a passage separating the Bransfield Strait and Weddell Sea. Centuries of extreme winds, snow, ice, icebergs, and glaciers have scoured and gouged the landscape and shorelines leaving remarkably high peaks and deep valleys. I’m providing two images so everyone can attempt to grasp the distance between the ocean, seas, islands and peninsula being referenced. Upon my first views passing through towards the Weddell Sea, I was awed at how insignificant I am, we are, and how intimidating this world can be.
Sailing on this advanced 107.6 meters long steel hulled Polar Class 6 vessel was at times almost like riding a cork bobbing on the vast treacherous waterways, moving at 12 knots. Only briefly in the beginning though, for about five hours, did we actually experience some ‘rough seas’. Exiting Beagle Channel and entering the dreaded southerly trek across the Drake Passage, we encountered sustained winds of 35 knots. Frequent gusts up to 55+ knots made for a somewhat rocky ride along the 8' to 12' seas. Much more on the seas, winds, swells from the bridge will be presented in a future Blog. Fortunately, with modern stabilizers and an excellent crew, it was mostly a pretty smooth ride. Unfortunately, a number of passengers were stricken with a severe bout of sea sickness.
The NASA satellite shot included below is of the entire white frozen continent. Note in the far-left upper corner, a thin red line marks the Antarctic Sound. The other image from Google Maps is the Drake Passage. Spanning about 500 nautical miles from Argentina to Elephant Island, our first sighting of land. It is about a 48 hour voyage to cross the Drake. The next day we sailed through the Antarctic Sound into the Weddell Sea, with mostly calm chilly winds hovering around 20 knots or so. Mild ocean swells with mostly clear, sometimes blue skies. I was able to capture still images and a little video.
Between zodiac filled shore trips for passengers onto the Antarctic Peninsula and my few dives into the icy waters of the polar region (much more on this soon too), everyone aboard was treated to a host of amazing lectures. Many leading authorities on birds, whales, penguins, icebergs, and a myriad of other relative topics were absolutely invaluable. I’d like to say I had a favorite lecture, but they were all excellent. Even the Chief Engineer, with his strong Romanian accent, unassuming personality, and delightfully dry sense of humor provided an entertaining and informative oration.
As you watch my video shorts of our expedition, rest assured our ship’s Captain and his First Officers perfectly navigated and eluded the thousands of icebergs and small berglets that populate the chilly waters. Remember that over 90% of an iceberg is below the surface. The seemingly small, yet massive structures can be formidable and deadly dangerous. Just ask the Captain of the Titanic.
Much more images and videos to come shortly.