Groundhog day - still at sea and spent the day “sorting photos, reading, listening to music, and eating” - and getting very bored.
During yesterday afternoon and evening we continued on our crossing of Drake Passage. We were very fortunate with the conditions. Chatting to the first mate he advised me that he had only had one better crossing and he has crossed Drake 80 times. It has still not been a mill pond, with gusts of 50 knots this morning and all of the passengers are not coping. Not everyone has been into dinner, and some have left very quickly during the course of the meal. As a notoriously bad sailor I can’t believe how well I have coped.
Overnight it was a bit more choppy with some rocking and rolling and so once again I did not sleep very well, as I kept getting moved around my bed with the motion of the ship. At about 5pm there was a particularly strong swell and unfortunately our wardrobe door had not been locked properly. There was a terrific din as my Peli case and my cabin mate’s rucksack came tumbling out and across the cabin followed by our clothes. It was incredibly frustrating trying to put the clothes back this morning, as every time I tried to put clothes in those that I had already returned started to fall out again.
At about 11am I went up to the bridge and land was in site. I could see Picton Island and Tierra Del Fuego, between which lies the Beagle Channel and our route back to Ushuaia. I had a long chat with the captain and he informed me that we had just escaped a storm, which was stretching from Cape Horn to Falklands. We are now protected by land and so will miss the worst of the effects of the storm.
AT 4pm we had the final briefing and received a DVD of the trip and then paid bar bills and collected passports. We are currently in the Beagle Channel and as it is narrow and not a good spot for anchoring we are cruising around at 2 - 3 knots for a while waiting for a pilot to take us through the Channel. In the morning we should be at the harbour in Ushuaia. at about 7pm and the trip will be over.
I say that with a mixture of sadness and relief. If the last trip was dogged by more than its share of bad luck and tragedy then this trip has been one were we have been very lucky, and I am very glad that I made the effort to return again so quickly. The crossings of Drake Passage, and mini Drake, have been reasonably good. The food has been really good this time. We have made 10 out of our possible landings, which I am sure is very much at the top end of the range of what can be expected. We have had some excellent light (at times, but also mixed with grey and drab light), David and I have been treated royally and have had opportunities which we would not have had on the last trip, when we would have been 10 to a zodiac. Although the wildlife has been limited, but still good, I am hopefully returning with some good photos of what I have seen, and particularly of the landscapes and icebergs, which is what I hoped to be seeing and photographing here in Antarctica.
But there is also a sense of relief. In the last 9 weeks I have spent 29 days on M/V Ushuaia and slept in 4 different cabins on 27 nights. I have got to the stage where I just want to get off the ship, walk on firm ground and in a straight line and not have to reach out for grab rails.
I am also relieved to get away from the “gentleman” that I sat next to at dinner with the most gross behaviour at a dinner table I have ever experienced. He obviously has a cold and spent a good minute or more blowing into one of the paper serviettes. He then placed the serviette onto his plate just inches away from my cutlery and dinner plate. I politely pointed out that I didn’t want to spend dinner time breathing in his germs. He moved the plate and serviette a distance of at least 3 inches, closer to his own utensils. I again had to speak to him and this time explained that I would prefer it if he put the serviette into his pocket, which he eventually did. I was thanked later by others on the table who, not surprisingly, were equally offended.
I am looking forward to 2 nights in Buenos Aires in my own room without a semi-mute companion (chatting to myself will be more informative), another fine steak in Don Luigi’s, a day booked on Friday with a professional photographer exploring Buenos Aires, before an overnight flight and back to Cherith, my family and friends and my own bed!!