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Drake Passage

Variable winds from yesterday are finished and from after midnight all the way to the afternoon we motor on calm conditions and long gentle swell. After taking away all canvas at around 01:00h AM and furl the sails on the headrig, we spent most part of the day waiting for favourable winds, with all sails ready to be set again. In the meantime both engines roar pushing us at around 5kn on a 165º course, while the light breeze blowing between 5 to 7kn comes from a S-ly direction. Many of us spend time on deck enjoying the warm temperature and the sun breaking through the partially covered skies.

On our progress towards Antarctica we pass Cape Horn latitude at around coffee time, 65nm from it, too far East to be seen. Taking advantage of the calm conditions we are experiencing as we enter the Drake Passage, today we started the Biosecurity procedures to be conducted before any landing in Antarctica. Vacuum cleaner is set in the Deckhouse for us to clean the gear and bags we will be using for our landings. There is a real risk of having spores, dirt and seeds on our pockets and Velcros, carried on them from other areas in the world, and with this measures we try to minimize the introduction of those alien materials and species in Antarctica. Also the crew and guides start with their lecture program. After breakfast and lunch we have talks on sail training, starting to unveil the secrets of sailing (today setting and taking away square and stay sails). After morning and afternoon coffee times Jordi and Annukka introduce us to the Birds of the Drake Passage/Antarctica and the Southern Ocean Oceanography, respectively. The bird talk is also repeated after dinner. All lectures will be done twice to give the chance for all of us to attend, as we are all running on a sailing watch system. Due to the windless conditions for most of the day, many of the albatrosses and petrels that usually roam around this area cannot be seen. Probably they are flying on areas close by with more wind or just sitting in the water waiting for more suitable conditions for their gliding flight. Even like this Black browed albatrosses are spotted and a couple of the huge Wandering albatrosses as well. Sporadically solitary Giant and White chinned petrels pay us a visit too.

 

After lunch the whole weather, wind and sailing situation change. Already after the watch change at 14:00h, the S-ly light breeze became N-ly and NE-ly increasing wind., and the ski gets cloudier. As 
forecasted, our waiting time for fare wind was about to finish. We are all eager to stop the engines and sail again. Soon during the afternoon wind steadily picked up to about 20kn. Yards are braced sharp to 
Starboard tack and gradually all canvas is set, finishing in the evening with just one sail stowed away (Gaff Top sail) while the rest are set and pulling us at over 8kn, sailing Close Hauled on a 150º course towards Antarctica. We finish the day enjoying great sailing in the Drake Passage! Since leaving the Beagle Channel we have sailed 106nm, and in total we made 177nm, still 375nm ahead of us to reach South Shetland Islands.

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