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En Route to Antarctica

Into the Drake Passage

snow 1 °C

We were woken up at 4am !!!! Ouch !!! This trip was going to be a bit more testing than we'd thought!

EVERYONE... and I mean EVERYONE on the previous watch had gotten Sea Sick as we'd passed the shelter of the Beagle Channel and had hit the rather more testing waters of the Drake Passage.

Now to say that this is one of the most testing and dangerous stretches if water in the world is somewhat of a slight understatement to say the least! God knows how many ships have sunk rounding Cape Horn. however, we were heading south and were pretty much against the wind and the waves and the currents! So the Smooth sailing of the previous night was no more and Whilst bouncing around on deck we managed to survive the 4 hours with neither Steph nor I being sick.... I was happy and quite enjoying the Experience! We had a nice sunrise and Even though it was 8am... headed back to our beds for some sleep (Steph was starting to feel the effects of the Sea and once downstairs again... started to feel a bit worse... however... she Braved through it and we were woken up at 2pm for our next watch! This was a shorter 2 hour watch for the afternoons so that this would mean that each watch would rotate four hours each day... so no single watch would have the same watch as the previous night! i.e. we were due to go on at 12am til 4am tonight! Ouch.... During the course of the journey this watch was regularly referred to as any of the following rather colourful terms... The "Dog", "Bitch", "Bastard", "Twat" or even the "C**t" watch.... which sort of gives you the right idea as to which of the watches turned out to be the least preferred :)

So We were woken by the remnants of the previous watch (which was now down to 4 remaining members standing... from an initial 12!) Trainees and even crew were falling fast and as we moved into day 3... we assumed our positions around our vessel.

The purpose of the watch system was to ensure that we avoided other ships... icebergs or any other potential hazards in the water, whilst also being available to assist with the Sailing when the Captain or the first mate saw fit to change something. We soon found out that Captain Klaas (Or Captain Nemo as I'd nicknamed him on accounts of his long white beard and hair and obligatory ear ring!) was fonder of changing things than the First Mate. Sails were tweaked... lines tightened... lessons were (apparently) being learned by the trainees as the night progressed.

Steph fell asleep in the Deck house at 2am and by 4am we were all shattered and headed straight to our bunks!

Days began to melt into one another and we found ourselves quickly living by the watches and that life onboard quickly changed to become entirely meal and watch orientated.

Breakfast 7 - 9am
Lunch 1pm
Tea 7pm

These were the times where you would see people other than those on your watch and it quickly became apparent that a few of our fellow passengers were "apparently" suffering from sea sickness... however... it seemed strange to me how some of the afflicted stayed in their bunks at night, got up in the day and still managed to eat at meal times.....
hmmmmmm.........
Some of our watch were also ill...
however, they managed to drag themselves upstairs to get some fresh air and, even though they weren't well, they bravely managed to survive through each consecutive watch with green faces!

Opinions of people were starting to change at this point and Steph and I found ourselves changing our opinions of people who on the first two days we'd thought were "nice". Once again.... first impressions don't tell you Shite!

We'll give the others the benefit of the doubt Steph and I thought and continued on our watches...

It was now Day 4 and Steph and I (I have to admit) were starting to feel the toll of the Drake.

Engines were now being used as the Wind had swung around and we weren't making good progress. (You can check the Europa's web site for exact Way points etc. if you're interested!)

Anyway, I was in the deckhouse and I decided I'd try to read for a bit...... whoops.... mistake..... five minutes in and I ran outside for a "minor" Vom! Only a minor one... however a Vom all the same ! Feck ! I'd been sick and Steph Hadn't.... so much for never having been sea sick before..... damn !!!! I was well pissed off and Steph knew it.... so I was wound up about it (deservedly I know) but it seemed to help Steph (who also wasn't feeling well)

What a nice guy I am.... ;)

Why the hell are we on this trip..... ????

I'm sure a few of our fellow passengers were thinking this.... it was windy... we weren't moving much in the water (at one point we had to pull all the sails down as we were almost going backwards when the wind suddenly changed), it was getting colder by the hour (it was down to about 2 degrees Centigrade by now and getting colder!), The waft of sick buckets wafted downstairs and there seemed to be no end in sight! Even some of the full time crew members were taking ill and peoples personalities (or lack therewith) were starting to surface.

Whales....... We spot Whales..... a whole pod of them..... and they're big whales too !!!!

About 6 massive Fin Whales swam along side us en route to Antarctica also it seemed ! They were huge animals (The Second Largest Whale after the Blue) and they effortlessly sailed past us... as we were still on engines.

The Whales were soon followed by a pod of hourglass dolphins playing in the bow wave of the ship. These were beautiful animals and so far have to be some of the most beautiful dolphins I've seen!

They're black and white (much like Killer Whales) and the white is in the form of hourglass shaped stripes passing down their bodies. They were brilliant animals and had nearly everyone (that was still alive) hanging on the bow of the ship to get the perfect Dolphin shot... The Water was a Brilliant Blue and the Black and White of the dolphins combined with the White of the bow waves were brilliant.

This was definitely what everyone needed as a quick reminder as to why we were all on this journey and helped gee up some of those that were beginning to question the trip.

Steph and I were happy however, as those "sickies" downstairs missed all the fun... ha, Ha !!!!

It was now day 5 and the Dolphin and whale sightings had been pretty much the only thing that had happened on the journey so far (apart from going backwards in the night when the wind changed again... which was fun!)

There was plenty of Sail handling and we were given a map of the ropes (or Lines) on board so we'd have a better idea as to which lines to pull to either set or remove a certain sail!

I'm enjoying this ! The whole Sailor thing is really quite appealing and both Steph and I (or so she says!) are enjoying the Sailing aspect of the journey at the moment.... god knows there's a lot more to come in the next month or so so we might as well get used to it!

I went up the Mast today to go and "Furl" (Wrap up) a sail to the Yard arm.. (The horizontal bit of wood on the mast)

OK.... we've been sailing for a while and the sailing terms are already becoming part of our vocabulary! This is what a Training Sailing ship should be about ! Learning how to sail and certainly Steph and I are determined to get learning whilst we're here! For those of you that aren't familiar with sailing terms etc... I'll try and put in "Idiots Guide phrasing" for you every now and again (as above) ;)

So I'm hanging over the raging Drake passage, stood on a rope with a harness and my hands being the only thing stopping me falling to certain death.... I'm loving Sailing ! This is fun !!! However, the cold is now starting to set in and it starts to snow whilst I'm on the yard arm.... Gloves are a requirement.

However, pulling and tying knots in ropes whilst dangling over the sea aren't really conducive to wearing gloves... so I take mine off and my fingers are freezing.... After 15 minutes I finish my one bit of a single sail... my first furl and Colin (A crew member) and I manage to drag ourselves down.... I'm the first of the trainees to go up the mast and furl and I'm ecstatic... I have a funny feeling as the weather and the conditions get better the remainder of the trainees will follow suit... so I decide to help the crew out as often as possible whilst the conditions are somewhat more testing !!! :)

We finish our watch and it's back to bed.... we're shattered ! /Land shouldn't be far now though as the Captain tells us that it should be the following day and Tjalling (pronounced Tully, who was our resident naturalist/guide come Entertainment manager) started a competition for a bottle of wine to see who would spot land first and also at what time.... Enthused since we were on the 4-8am watch and it was likely our watch could be the first to spot land... we went to bed after tea ready for land.... LAND..... Goddam LAND !!!!! seems like a year ago since we left and it's only 6 feckin days !!!!

PS... we've not been allowed to Shower for the past 4 days as the weathers too rough !!! we smell nice... NOT ! Steph's about ready to flip but other than that we're managing well (ish) ;)

Posted by Taffski 05:45 Archived in Antarctica Tagged boating

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