Setting Sail

Wednesday, 12 March

We meet at the prison at the end of the world museum and do the tour, which is all well and goo (and worth it for the guide…), but really, we can’t wait to get on board and head off, but that isn’t until 16:00. We’re staying a little way outside the downtown area of Ushuaia so we have to get a taxi to pick up our bags and take us to the port with last-minute provisions and duty free.

Ushuaia port is host to all kinds of craft, from huge cruise liners whose passengers seem to swamp the town when they’re ashore to excursion catamarans and various small commercial ships. We have the Professor Multanovsky – a small ice-breaker of a certain vintage. There’s room for about 50-odd passengers and a crew of about 20 -it’s a real expedition ship, equipped with Zodiacs, so we feel hugely superior to the pampered liners.

The Russian crew chalk our cabin numbers on our bags haul them up the gangway, and eventually, let us on board. We have Suite 510 doncha know: double bed, sofa, fridge, TV and DVD, hifi, the works (what was I saying about pampered liners…?).

To emphasise the seriousness of what we are about to undertake we are summoned to the bar for the safety instructions, and are warned there will be a lifeboat drill soon after we are underway. Sure enough, soon after 19:00, as we enter the Beagle Channel, it’s one long blast on the ship’s horn for “abandon ship” and we grab our life jackets and head for the lifeboats.

Drill over, there’s time to spot some black-browed albatross, the odd petrel, and a very energetic seal following the ship before dinner interrupts the euphoria. Conversation at dinner revolves around what we might expect on the crossing to the Antarctic Peninsula: Cape Horn and the notorious Drake’s Passage – supposedly one of the roughest sea crossings in the world. We take our anti-sea-sickness pills and hope for the best.

The crossing is one of the things Cim fears the most, and I’m sure she’ll have something to report later. However, we have six hours in the Beagle Channel, before we hit open ocean, all in Argentinian waters (just) with the end of the Chilean Andes on the close horizon on the starboard side.

/Jerry

Pictures from Drake’s Passage

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: