Our time has come, the circle is closed. Twenty days ago, we left Ushuaia. Headed towards Antarctica, the infamous Drake Passage, and certainly some unknown. Now we return, after an incredible voyage to Antarctica, South Georgia, the Falklands, and a lot of ocean in between. Calm seas in the Beagle channel were certainly enjoyed, but it was a bit shocking to see trees and civilization. We did enjoy the sunshine, dolphins, and abundant birds. I think for many of us, we wished we were heading back out instead of into Ushuaia, but the memories we have created will last a lifetime.
National Geographic Orion
Today was a great day to stay indoors. Robust seas and high winds made for a somewhat rough ride and outside decks were closed to guests. Waves to around 5 metres and spray causing white out on the windows of the deck-6 observation lounge from time to time were the norm. Fortunately there were plenty of engaging presentations. Conor Ryan spoke of the underwater soundscapes of the oceans, communication between cetaceans and some of the significant and disturbing impacts of human activity on those soundscapes. Andrew Atkin gave some further insights to the Heroic Era of Antarctic exploration with stories from those expeditions that visited Cape Adare on the edge of the Ross Sea between 1895 and 1914. These included the more obscure visits of Carsten Borchgrevink ( Southern Cross Expedition) and Captain Scott’s northern scientific party during the Terra Nova Expedition. National Geographic photographer Todd Gipstein wrapped up his medley of presentations with ideas about how to develop our photographic collections into books, presentations and videos to share with family and friends. It was an absolute treat to see the treatment of his first Antarctic trip: reflective and inspirational indeed. The mid-afternoon treat was a broadcast of David Attenborough’s excellent program on the Antarctic, enjoyed by many guests from the comfort of their staterooms. Most folk emerged in time for the evening cocktails, update on plans from expedition leader Peter Wilson and a medley of interesting recaps. Particularly memorable was Rob Edwards’ simulation of plate tectonics using volunteers to represent different continents and mountain chains. After dinner entertainment in the lounge was hosted by guests Ruey and Amy who had put together a challenging trivia quiz. Topics ranged from Lindblad’s operational history through to natural history questions based on some of the presentations given during the voyage. It was a well-attended and fun night.