Day Five – On the Way to Antarctica – Crossing the Drake Passage

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Despite not sleeping all night, somehow I got some shut eye in the morning as I didn’t wake up until 8:45…breakfast started at 8. Luckily, the meals are sort of come and go style. We ended up chatting with some of the staff for a bit and missed the sea bird briefing, but an activity is planned for almost every hour of the 577 nautical miles across the Drake Passage, so we didn’t feel like we were missing much! Besides the staff is awesome!

Being Fitted for a Kayak

Val, who hails from Canada, but is a teacher in New Zealand when not on staff in the Antarctic, was our kayak guide. She is super enthusiastic and seems like a lot of fun. Kayaking was limited to ten passengers who signed up in advance for an additional fee when booking the trip. We were two of them. There is no guarantee we get to kayak, as it is weather dependent. It could be multiple times or it could be none…all for the same price…hopefully we’ll be lucky! As part of the kayaking group, we got fitted for our dry suits and kayaks today. The kayaks have foot pegs for a rudder. I’ve never paddled in this type of kayak, nor do I have much kayaking experience. In our briefing, the group seemed split, so we’ll see how it goes! We were also issued dry bags, skirts, and more life vests! We certainly have our pick of life vests in our cabin now!

Activities on the Boat

The rest of the activities for the day included walking around deck 4 a total of 18 times (that’s two miles), looking for sea birds (we personally saw a Grey-headed albatross, though others saw more types), high tea, a presentation on mammals, a recap on the day, and of course lunch and dinner (delicious lamb chops). There is definitely no shortage of food, and we found ourselves quite busy for not leaving the boat! I thought I’d have two days of reading a book…I’m not sure I’ll be ready for my book club when I get back home.


We are slowly starting to meet people, but don’t know anyone too well. There are several passengers from Australia and Canada on board….we definitely rank in the youngest 8 on the boat. Tonight we ate dinner with the Canadians we wanted to meet. They worked in the USA for a while and lived in San Francisco. The ladies, Bev and Marion, met at Levi. They are part of the kayaking group as well, so if the weather is good we will be on the water with them a lot. We also sat with a Frenchman who, unbeknownst to us, was celebrating his birthday. The staff brought out a cake, played the guitar, and sang. How nice! Instead of blowing out his candles, however, he pursed his lips together and sputtered like blowing into a trombone and spit all over the cake…needless to say I skipped the cake and had chocolate ice cream for dessert!

So far, the weather has been mild and the swells low (lower than the 9 to 12 foot forecast), though it appears many of the 114 passengers haven’t left their cabins due to sea sickness. The fog has recently rolled in, though the passage should remain smooth. We should be reaching colder water tomorrow and will hopefully spot an iceberg, perhaps some whales, and some more sea birds. At 10:20 at night, it still light outside! ETB


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photographic note card, iceberg in Antarctica
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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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