Beagle Inlet

Ice Burg with Bird overlaySo we finally took off from Ushuaia on the Explorer.  We start off though a passage call Beagle Inlet and then into the Atlantic for about 8 hours. As you know, I booked on Lindblad/National Geographic Expeditions.   A few choices, and some have bigger luxe vessels — basically these are small cruise ships.  NatGeo is what I was looking for; 140 people on board, 20 or so support staff who are biologists, NatGeo photographers, naturalists and any discipline to learn about our surrounds.   All publish or contribute in National Geographic magazine.  These experts of the Antarctic go deep in photography and as naturalists.  Also, the boat looks like a research vessel.  Its a class 1 ice breaker and it has that profile.  In fact, staff or guest staff/researchers come aboard to do their research — peel from group and do their own thing — all thanks to National Geographic/Lind who fund these researchers.

So the ratio of guests to knowledge of Phd staff is very low — guessing about 7:1 (7 guests for one expert) and that is what I wanted.  These guys know their shit and more — how the shit is formed.  That is I’m told unique.  Also, they are there to talk to.  Totally guest friendly for anything.  Even the bridge were the captain and officers/crew manage the boat is available to guests 24 hours a day.  Now that is strange but great.  You can just hang out in the bridge with the officers managing the boat.

Anyway, we have been extremely lucky because the seas after day 1 have been pretty nice.  Just picking up now.  We passed into the Antarctic officially 4 hours ago.  Seas were like 3 ft which are basically flat.  Sure it’s a boat and you feel it, but when we went to bed, we were told that the seas in the Drake Passage were going to be in 15-20 ft range.  Scary to think of what could be if our luck was on the other side.  Were now in 6-8 foot seas and boat is definitely rocking since the waves are hitting us on the broad side – starboard.  The least happy side to hit us.  Whatever, I have a day to fight through this annoyance, but it is amazing that just 3 hours ago, the water was like 3 ft and nothing to talk about.

Lots of lectures today on board as well as outside sightings.  One was kind of interest and it talked about the winds in the Antarctic.  Everything from how the earth manages winds all the way to why the Drake is so harsh.  Our window of low wave height is a blessing.  Still tons of people are sick on board.   Other lectures on birds who live in this region along with photography breakouts.  These guys take killer-ass pictures and are sent all over the world to shoot.

They did announce our first giant ice berg in the water but I missed it.  It was a choice of staying in comfy room and look through our balcony or get fully dressed to go upstairs-outside and view.  I was thinking that I will see enough ice bergs in next few days.

Daylight is long as it was in Ushuaia — but longer.  I’m told it will be at least, 20 hours of sunlight in a 24 hours span once we reach the Antarctic Peninsula.   We have not even reached summer season yet — December 21st.  And, yes its cold — hovering about 32 Fahrenheit but worse is the wind.  Antarctic has huge winds and nothing to stop or buffer the winds.   Dont now what wind chill is here but after our lecture on winds this afternoon, I expect it to harsh.

Anyway, thats a quick rundown.  Hope for a beautiful 85 degree day tomorrow along our ice berg or glacier sand beach.

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