An early morning start from Ushuaia after a short refuelling stop sees us sailing down the Beagle Channel towards the Southern ocean and Drake Passage.
An early morning start from Ushuaia after a short refuelling stop sees us sailing down the Beagle Channel towards the Southern ocean and Drake Passage. The hills each side of the coast are green and covered with stunted trees leading down to the rocky shorelines. Sea birds of dozens of varieties accompany the boat wheeling around the majestic masts. Within minutes dusky dolphins speed across the wave tops, surfing and leaping towards the boat to play in the bow wave. Sharp eyes on board spot the spray of two Sei whales spouting water and spray into the air as they surface to breathe.
All is well on board. The excitement is electric. By evening we have cleared the Channel and have rounded Isla Nueva into the Drake Passage. The wind and waves build steadily and the ship begins to buck and heave like an angry horse. One by one the voyage crew abandon their gunwale side posts in search of buckets or beds. 30 knots, 35 knots, 40 knots onwards and upwards it goes. Sails are doused with the permanent crew swinging precariously on the yard arms high above the deck, wresting to furl the giant sheets of canvas. We watch in awe.
The watches begin. Four hours on, eight hours off night and day. Lucky white watch draws the 8 till midnight shift our numbers down to 4, as our shipmates wrestle with illness. It's a long night and the wind and spray build. Gusts of 45 plus knots are not uncommon. Welcome relief as those remaining from Blue Watch climb the stairs to the wheel to relieve us from the cold and rain.