Monday, January 11, 2010

EN TRAVELS TO ANTARCTICA - Jan. 8 final blog

Editor's note: Satellite transmission from the Antarctica peninsula became cranky last week, preventing timely transmission of these blogs. They are posted in their entirety below.

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Friday, Jan. 8, 2010

Better Living Through Chemistry – I write in praise of scopolamine - the wonder drug. Were it not for the little patch behind my ear these past two days, I'm afraid I would have been incapacitated by seasickness. "Talking to Ralph on the big white phone" - not a pretty picture. Pity the poor explorers of yesteryear who had to transit the same passage between South America and Antarctica without this handy little pharmaceutical.

Seasoned hands aboard ship say the Drake Passage behaved itself on the return trip. Hard to believe. Our little 276-ft. ship rolled incessantly yesterday. Where are those stabilizers I read in the brochure? The sea completely fills the picture windows in the lounge one minute, then as the ship rolls, the scene changes to blank sky. Staircases fall away from your feet as you go below. "One hand for you, one hand for the ship," was the mantra continuously drilled into us.

Remaining prone in my tiny cabin has been the best medicine. I've been sleeping great during the passage, no doubt thanks to the patch. The sun streams in through a single porthole, except for a brief twilight period from midnight to 3 a.m. When visiting Antarctica during its summer, don't underestimate the value of a good sleep mask.

We're making great time - approximately 13 knots across the passage. Out in the distance is the fabled Cape Horn, the tip of South America. Tonight we'll hang on an anchor in the placid Beagle Channel for a final dinner with the Captain. Meanwhile, the group is broken up into workshops focused on art, media relations, sponsorship fund-raising, journal writing, and music. Fred Roots, our resident scientist/genius is about to give a lecture on the Antarctic treaty that ensures protection of the entire continent.

Landing in Ushuaia is planned for Saturday morning. It will be a time for shopping and a visit to a national park. There's not much to buy in town other than t-shirts, stuffed penguins, pins and coffee mugs - many imprinted with "Fin du monde." Indeed, it feels like we've been to the end of the world, but now the real world beckons. Solid land beneath our feet will feel good after living on the good ship "Ushuaia" for these past nine days.

1 comment:

  1. Alaskans have discovered the value of the Dreamhelmet sleep mask sound-blocking pillow combination to slumber through the sunlit nights. The Dreamhelmet should work just as well in Antarctica. All that is needed is intelligent beings to carry it there.