Friday 12 December 2014

The Drake

Well this afternoon at around 2 PM we left the protection of King George Island and headed out into the Drake.  The seas have become progressively rougher. Currently we have waves between 6 - 8 meters with a few larger ones. The larger ones make the ship shudder and lurch - the spray is reaching the 10th story!!  The crowds thinned for wrap-up, but still a substantial number showed up, however, the dinner crowd was a bit thin.  We had a small private reception after wrap-up with some of the senior officers and members of the hotel staff. The main work of the expedition staff is now done.

For these past six days in Antarctica we were up at 5 - 5:30, eating breakfast, donning our gear, getting the zodiacs ready, and then loading the first passengers.  The passengers are split into 5 colour coded groups of about 85 passengers. The groups are rotated, so everyone got a chance to be first (or last) in the sequence.  When possible, staff have also been taken to shore. 

We have large zodiacs (Mark VI) that can take 16 passengers and smaller ones that take 8 - 10 (Mark V).  Several of the staff are dedicated zodiac drivers and others like me, are lecturers and interpreters. What is nice is that the ship's hotel staff look after the guests in terms of getting them into life jackets, boots, etc. and also have staff on shore to help load and unload passengers.  Some of them volunteer everyday - others are not so happy to be on the cold, windy, shores!  After landing, a flagged route is set out and we are positioned at sensitive and/or interesting locations. There are strict rules about not getting closer than 5 m from the wildlife...mind you, sometimes you find your self with a small friend at your feet....  

Now for another 30 hours or so of the washing machine that the Drake can be! 

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