Further shouth to the 6th Continent
Trip Start Nov 28, 2011
149Trip End Apr 09, 2013
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Where I stayed
Polar Pioneer boat
What I did
15.45 is the pickup and at 16.00 we will be boarding together with all the other 50 passengers.
Thermo underwear and and the ron are packed. More after we'vediscovered the 6th Continent for ourselves :)
Fingers crossed for fair winds and following seas!
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Taxi dropped us at the pier
....we're on the go!
On the docks, our little ship seemed even smaller, as it was fixed between two other Antarctic ships much bigger (or even double size?). But what made it look really tiny was an enourmous cruise ship that arrived earlier in the morning. And with it all the passengers that packed Ushuaia city.
We checked our cabin, tiny but cute, with 2 beds a desk -surrounded by cute curtains, a chair a small sofa on the side and surprisingly enough - plenty of space for our stuff! Although we shared bathroom and toilet with the other guests on the 3rd floor, there is s sink and mirror in our own room. Through the bulleye window we had our very own view outside.
At 17.00 a it was time to go to a short briefing on the top deck. General facts on the boat, i.e. that the Polar Pioneer is a ship with factor three when it comes to ice strenghtness
The briefing included several other tips. For example that we, when walking from A to B (while B probably stands for BAR), should always have 'one hand for the ship' to avoid being hurt whenever a wave might hit our ship (we did not yet know how important that information would be). Furter, we received a thermo mug that we may carry around, as it has a cover and therefore ensures safe transport of hot goods like coffee, tea or hot chocolate from A to B (this time B would be the Bridge which is open for us as long as we're not in our Captains way!
Next we got the team introduction, including all our experts; John and Liz, the exhibition leaders form Australia, our delightful geologist Mike from Michigan University, Michael our enthousiast Biologist from Canada, plus our lovely doctor, penguin doctor, diver and caretaker Tanja
That sounded like we were pretty much pampered and sure to be taken care of very well!
All this was follwed by the announcement of a lifeboat drill. How exciting!
As we are exhibition and cruise ship greenhorns it was our first lifeboat drill - and hopefully our last visit to that riny little thing that is supposed to save us out of a very uncomfortable situation. Back into our room we were sent but warned to be alert and listen to the information. 7 short and 1 long sounds, plus the intercom 'lifeboat drill' and were grabbing our lifevests and went off to the 4th floor - just behind the bar. Strategic location, or not? o whenever you might be too drunk to notice you wold still be one of the closest to the lifeboat. Aha. Good to know.
However, drinking was only opted until 24.00 as we were supposed to have left the Beagle Channel by then and to be out on the ocean - facing the Drake Passage
After being wrapped into our lifevests we got into the one of two lifeboats. Odd numbers, like our 303, were supposed to go into the Port (left) side and even to the other. All in, the boat was closed and the team started the engine to show us how it would feel like. The good news was that there were plenty liters of drinkwater and some food on our tiny orange floating thing, plus diesel (and paddles) for a huge number of nautical miles that we could do on our own. Yet, as it is high season there are many boats around that could assist or pick us up in case of emergency. Good to know...
The bad news was the fact that the lifeboats, although they seemed quite full, would need to take 11 more people, the crew members, each. Fingers crossed we won't have to use them (atually they never needed to be used before)
So, off we were and got ourseves into the bar to check the cosyness factor - 8 points for that, plus 1 for the location (direct door to lifeboats :) = 9 for the bar.
Just before leaving the harbour Maria took a short glimpse into the Captians deck and questioned our captain about the wheather forecast
But as soon as you leave that quite channel you reach the open ocean, to be a little more precise: the Drake Passage. This is where the Southern Atlantic and Pacific Ocean meet and colder and warmer wheathers and waters come together. This, plus the forecast of a small wind cycloon on Feb 7th were bad news and predicted a shaky journey to the white continent. Argh! The seasickness alert went on. Not good.
Although Maria sailed before and was ok with waves in general; there is s difference between motorboat waves and sailboat waves - plus this is very high open ocean. Do we get seasick? We will see...
Best solution: see Tanja, get seasickness drugs and prepare.
So after our lovely dinner; freshly baked bread with salad followed by Pasta Carbonara and topped with a warm apple tarte with vanilla sauce, we got onto the top deck to enjoy te last minutes of the stunning landscape before we were off to the ocean and not seeing any land for about 2 days.
Our strategy was going to bed before 24.00 so we would be asleep when we're on the Drakes Passage and the ship starts being pushed aroung by wind and waves. Eyes closed and those thoughts in mind: 'lifeboats were never used before' we went ot bed - hoping for the best for the next day....