We enjoyed a delightful morning in the southern reaches of the infamous Drake Passage with beautiful sailing conditions. We found ourselves accompanied by wandering and black-browed albatrosses, northern and southern giant petrels, pintado petrels, Wilson’s storm petrels, and several prions that were particularly difficult to identify on the wing. As we approached the South Shetland Archipelago, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by humpback whales and chinstrap penguins splashing and cavorting all around the ship. This was pretty exciting, and most everyone was quickly out on deck. We encountered foggy conditions about this time and soon entered the treacherous English Strait, threading our way through fog-shrouded volcanic islands as National Geographic Orion sailed south toward Barrientos Island, which is part of the Aitcho Group. “Aitcho” is the commonly accepted name derived from the phonetic spelling of “HO,” which signifies Hydrographic Office – a department of the British Antarctic Survey (ne. Falkland Islands Dependency Survey) that originally oversaw this vicinity.