Feed on

Ugh. What a day.

After a relatively peaceful night, I awoke and flung open the curtains to see my first glimpse of Antarctica…


I went out on deck: more fog. Port side: fog. Starboard side: fog. Fog, fog, and more (you guessed it) fog. Roughly an hour after reaching Elephant Island, the wind had increased enough to blow some of the fog away from the leeward side of the island. We were thus able to see a few of the glaciers that blanket the island (which looked, not unsurprisingly, a lot like the glaciers in Alaska). In all, we spent roughly an hour and a half in position viewing Elephant Island, departing around 9:30.

We’d intended to have breakfast in the Oceanview Café, but Emerson was apparently fussy (I’d stayed on deck maybe an extra 5 minutes). And so, by the time I’d made it to the location on Deck 10, Libby and Emerson had already departed for the cabin. I spent about 20 minutes looking for them, after which I returned to the cabin to find them there. Needless to say, I think everyone was frustrated by the circumstances.

At 10:30, the captain made an announcement that the weather conditions were expected to worsen over the next 2-3 days due to a low pressure system. Winds were expected to reach tropical storm force at between 30-40 knots. And, the seas had started to build.

At 1:30, Allan—our cruise director—made another weather related announcement. According to reports from bases near our destination, the low pressure system was intensifying and visibility along the Antarctica Peninsular was reduced to near zero. He said they’d make another announcement in an hour. But, I strongly suspected that they’d be turning us around. Needless to say, this prospect was very disappointing. As I’m writing this, I generally feel like this has been a fairly crappy trip… most has been build up to Antarctica (as the rest of the itinerary is a bit of a yawn), we’re constantly stressed about Emerson potentially bothering other guests (though she’s generally been great), and we’ve been dealing with (and worrying about) Emerson’s illness (which finally—thankfully—seems to be mostly behind us).

At 2:30, Allan confirmed what I’d suspected: that we’re, in a word, screwed. We’re now heading north back through the Drake Passage. We will be skipping our visit to the Antarctic Peninsula and spending an extra night in Tierra del Fuego. We expect the weather to continue to grow increasingly dirty with seas reaching 20-25 feet tomorrow in the Drake Passage.

Technically, we’ve made it to Antarctica, having visited Elephant Island. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that that feels only like small consolation after spending thousands of dollars and traveling for what will be a total of 16 days in order to spend 90 minutes with/in Antarctica. But, right now, I think that will have to do, as I’m not really that excited about the prospect of returning to this place at the end of the world.

Anyway, here’s a photo of what (little) we saw:

Elephant Island

Not sure when I’ll next post, as the weather has already crippled the television reception…

Leave a Reply