Sunday, March 10, 2013

Quark Expedition- Day 1- Sunnies Skies & Quiet Sea

Our ship the Ocean Diamond

Ushuaia, Argentina, the southern most city in the world

Along the Beagle Channel

Iceberg in the Drake Passage

On the first two days of the trip to Antarctica, you have to cross the dreaded Drake Passage, whose rough seas are legendary. Drake Passage is the body of water between the southern tip of South America at Cape Horn, Chile and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica. It connects the southwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean with the southeastern part of the Pacific Ocean and extends into the Southern Ocean. The passage receives its English language name from the 16th century English privateer Sir Francis Drake. Drake's only remaining ship, after having passed through the Strait of Magellan, was blown far South in September 1578. This incident implied an open connection between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

The 800 kilometres (500 mi) wide passage between Cape Horn and Livingston Island is the shortest crossing from Antarctica to the rest of the world's land. The boundary between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans is sometimes taken to be a line drawn from Cape Horn to Snow Island 130 kilometres (81 mi) north of mainland Antarctica). Alternatively the meridian that passes through Cape Horn may be taken as the boundary. Both boundaries lie entirely within the Drake Passage.
The other two passages around Cape Horn, Magellan Strait and Beagle Channel, are very narrow, leaving little room for a ship, particularly a sailing ship, to maneuver. They can also become icebound, and sometimes the wind blows so strongly no sailing vessel can make headway against it. Hence most sailing ships preferred the Drake Passage, which is open water for hundreds of miles, despite very rough conditions. The very small Diego Ramírez Islands lie about 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of Cape Horn.

There is no significant land anywhere around the world at the latitudes of the Drake Passage, which is important to the unimpeded flow of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which carries a huge volume of water (about 600 times the flow of the Amazon River) through the Passage and around Antarctica.
Ships in the passage are often good platforms for the sighting of whales, dolphins and plentiful seabirds including giant petrels, other petrels, albatrosses and penguins.

On the two days we crossed, we were luck to have calm seas!! I was prepared with Dramamine and other devices but had no problems! We had sunny skies and quiet waters.

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