Reaching the Beagle Channel

Dec 18, 2017 - National Geographic Orion

We’re ending our beautiful and challenging journey. We’ve just reached the east southern tip of Cape Horn early this morning, giving us thorough protection and lie from the next storm coming in. This has been a great strategy from our captain and expedition leader to give some speed on the way north to avoid the 10m (30 feet) waves that will build up south of Cape Horn during the day.

We then enjoy sunshine on the outer deck in the Beagle Channel while waiting for the pilot to come aboard and bring us into Ushuaia, ahead of time around dinner. This will be the opportunity to stretch our legs in town after 3 weeks at sea!

We set up and close our accounts, pack our gear and review the 10,253 photographs each one of us took during the voyage. Guests, crew members and expedition staff exchange their email addresses for planning their future holidays and hope to cross their paths again.

In the meantime we listen to the last stories of our expedition team in the lounge. We talk about Svalbard, Cape Horn, watch movies… we try in vain to lose the extra weight we took aboard by visiting the onboard gym for the last time.

We never say “good bye” on a ship, instead we say “see you again.” This is what we’ll say tomorrow to our hundred happy guests who, hopefully, became Antarctic ambassadors.

Once we have touched the remote land of Antarctica and the sub Antarctic island of South Georgia as well as the Falklands, discovered relatively recently, we see that nothing is very far away.

The Antarctic Treaty and Madrid Protocol declare that everything south of 60 degrees of latitude is a natural reserve dedicated to science, where economic exploitation is forbidden.

This agreement will be renegotiated in 2048. I sincerely hope that our fellow companions aboard National Geographic Orion will spread the word, so that these lands, which we discovered with the same eyes as the early explorers, remain untouched for the next generations, and will be away from any kind of political and economic interests.

Let the 7th continent stay a no man’s land, an example of peace for humanity.

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About the Author

Jonathan Zaccaria

Expedition Leader

At age 24 Jonathan had his first experience in Antarctica as a scientist at the coastal French Dumont d'Urville Station. Located on the windiest place on Earth (regularly around 200km/h, maximum up to 320 km/h), and bounded by sea ice eight months a year, this is the closest station to an Emperor penguin colony, worldwide advertised by the documentary movie The March of the Penguins. During his time there, he was taking measurements of the ozone layer and UV rate.

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