©Wolfgang Kaehler

Antarctica on the Seabourn Quest – Day 8 – Crossing the Drake Passage


Light-mantled sooty albatross (Nikon D4, 200-400mm lens)

The sea is rolling beneath sunny skies as we sail on the Seabourn Quest for Ushuaia at the tip of South America. White caps jolt the ship, but this is a far cry from our crossing more than twenty years ago on our trip to and from Antarctica. The Drake, named for the English explorer Sir Frances Drake, is known for its raucous waters. The passage connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and was a critical route before the opening of the Panama Canal. On our previous journey, on the Society Explorer, the ship pitched, jolted and bucked its way through the malevolent waters. Wolfgang was celebrating his birthday drinking shots of tequila with his buddy, penguin expert Frank Todd. Well into the evening, after chugging his share of shots, Wolf danced with me as the ship jostled in the sea. We hung onto the ropes dangling from the lounge ceiling and danced while trying to keep from flying across the room. On this larger ship the crossing is more peaceful and Wolf is leading photographers as they shoot pictures of seabirds. Light-mantled sooty albatrosses are the stars of the show, soaring in the wind above the ship’s wake. Cape petrels, southern fulmars, black-browed albatrosses, gray-headed albatrosses, and giant petrels all come into view. Wolf advises the passengers to use high shutter speeds between 1/1,000 of a second and 1/1,500 of a second to catch them in flight and to stay out of the wind to avoid shaking their cameras. The shots are wonderful. By evening the swells have grown, and dinner becomes an exciting show with great waves, like moving mountains, rumbling towards us. They rock and roll the ship as though it were merely a timid row boat at sea.


Light-mantled sooty albatross ballet (Nikon D4, 200-400mm lens)


Grey-headed albatross (Nikon D4, 200-400mm lens)

Comments are closed.