From the National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica
Jan 27, 2013 - National Geographic Explorer
Cape Horn and Beagle Channel
Six o’clock in the morning, the wind coming in from the west/northwest at a wind speed of 25 knots, with a gray sky and showers of rain. The ship was pitching a little bit but not very much and a few of the guests were up early on the bridge.
The air temperature was around 50 ̊ F and we were approaching the continental shelf of South America with an increasing number of albatrosses and petrels flying all around the ship. Around seven o’clock we could start to see the rugged coast of South America, as the bridge started to become crowded with guests and the naturalists pointed out the increasing numbers of different seabirds. Suddenly a small group of Peale’s dolphins came close to National Geographic Explorer and briefly rode the ship’s bow.
Around 8:30, the seas calmed and the notorious jagged hulk of Cape Horn became visible at a close distance. Photographers streamed to the bow to take pictures of the infamous landmark and over the loudspeakers, Argentine naturalist Eduardo Shaw read the poem by Sara Vidal about the forgotten souls of the lost mariners who rounded Cape Horn. After the horn, we sailed into the Beagle Channel in calm waters and many guests were out on deck to take in the impression of the wild landscape of Tierra del Fuego.
Suddenly, around 11:30, AB Jonathan, who was busy washing the front deck, spotted two killer whales. In the flat-calm conditions we could all enjoy a close-up view of these wonderful creatures. Stephanie enthusiastically described the behavior of these type-A killer whales, our first encounter of this species. Killer whale researcher John Durban told us how these same whales were also spotted from National Geographic Explorer last year and were part of a larger pod that drove a minke whale up on a beach in Ushuaia several years ago!
The rest of the day was filled with presentations by various staff members. Then, after another delicious tea, the local Argentine pilot boarded the ship at five o’clock. Then we gathered in the lounge for our final farewell cocktail party where Captain Kruse reminded us of all the wonderful adventures we had during our in Antarctica.