13 Dec 2011

The ship entered the Drake Passage between 2:00 and 3:00 this morning, and no matter how tired we were, we found sleep difficult.  However, despite our fears, we had no problems with sea sickness during the night, as the swells ranged from 12 to 20 feet and were coming across the beam.  So, the ship rocked from side to side, but never listing more than about 6-7 degrees.  Okay – the drugs, etc. may be helping also.

Around 9:00 this morning, we gave up on sleep and prepared for the day.  Last night, we had ordered breakfast to be served to us in the suite between 9:30 and 10:00, and it arrived about 9:35.  While we were eating, we had to keep a close watch on our food and beverages, as one large wave will send everything over the side of the table.  Although neither of us is seasick, we do feel a bit off – it may be the motion of the ship, or the side effects of the drugs, but it is a very odd feeling, nonetheless.

After breakfast, we went to the theater for a lecture on birds.  It was very interesting, but having not slept very well, I faded quickly, and had to return to the room to lie down.  Before we reached the room, we decided to take a detour outside to see the birds following the ship (after all, we did just attend a lecture on birds!).  We saw about a dozen different varieties, including albatross and petrel – their wing spans range from 1-2 feet for the smallest of the petrels to as much as 11 feet for the largest of the albatross.  You would certainly never know that they are that large from our perspective on the back of the ship.

At this morning’s lecture, we learned that these types of sea birds spend their entire lives in the air, with the exception of returning to land to breed.  Note that we said “in the air” and not “on the sea”.  As an albatross, can you imagine spending the first 12-13 years of your life in the air, finally returning as a teenager to breed?!

A very nice feature of the ship is that the lectures are also available in-suite on TV.  So, we tuned in to the lecture regarding Antarctic explorers.  The expedition team member, Peter, is great – very animated.

Following lunch, we were down for the count once again.  We woke feeling very refreshed, and started on our blog for the day.  There was supposed to be a mandatory Zodiac briefing at 2:00, but so many people are unwell, it was postponed until Wednesday.

At 5:00, the ship photographer gave a lecture on photography in Antarctica.   It was very interesting, and I‘m sure all who attended learned something.

This evening, the Captain invited all on board to his Welcome Cocktail Party – unfortunately, attendance was minimal as about 2/3 of the passengers are not feeling able to attend.  Following the party, we were invited to join the Hotel Director at her table for dinner.  Again, the other invited couple was not able to attend, so it was just 3 of us.  Birgit is from Salzburg, and we had a very enjoyable dinner.

Following the meal, we stopped at the panorama lounge, and had an opportunity to speak with the sommelier.  We complemented him on the California Pinot Noir that was served with dinner last night.  Once again, he told us that he would be happy to send a bottle to our room!

During dinner, the seas calmed a little – at midnight, as I type this, they seem to have picked up again.  The swells are still not as bad as last night, though.

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