As we left the South Shetlands yesterday evening, we began to feel the swell of the Drake as Smith Island and Snow Island disappeared behind us to the south. We are sadly leaving Antarctica behind as we head north to Ushuaia. Today we woke up with Antarctica far behind us, rocking in our beds as three- to four-meter swells rolled underneath the ship. The Drake, after a smooth and calm crossing on our way to Ushuaia, was finally showing some teeth. We were blessed, however, with sun and distant fog with little wind.
Though Antarctica was now in our rear-view mirror, and we were returning to port, the trip was not over. In the sunny weather, many of us spent time on the outer decks. We watched seabirds flying near our ship, drawn by the bounty stirred up as we steamed across the Drake Passage. Cape petrels, blue petrels, northern giant petrels, prions, black-browed albatross, southern royal albatross, and gray-headed albatross all appeared, gliding and banking effortlessly over, between, and around the waves. These birds hardly flap their wings at all as they cover thousands of kilometers in search of food hidden among the waves and wind that make up the Drake Passage.
Meanwhile, inside the ship, our naturalists gave presentations interpreting what we had seen to sate the curiosity of all those aboard the ship and gave them a glimpse into the hidden workings of krill, seals, ice, and killer whales. In the evening of our penultimate day, we had cocktails, recap, and good conversation followed by a delicious dinner and dessert. A perfect meal to end a day at sea.