A cancelled flight led to delays that meant it took 3 days travel to get to Chile from Leeds. Unfortunately, this meant I missed the Easter celebrations that I was looking forward to, but I did have the treat of a sunrise over the Andes on Easter morning going into Santiago.
I arrived at the hotel in Punta Arenas (port of departure) at 2am but had to be up by 9am to be kitted out with ECW (extreme cold weather gear) at the docks.
We had to be on the ship for the first of many safety meetings at 2pm, then had a night off! We sailed down the Straits of Magellan on the 7th at 3pm, with a gentle swell but impressive winds whipping white horses up.
The sea so far has been remarkably smooth though we are crossing into the dreaded Drake’s Passage, round Cape Horn, so expect that to change before long. The names of great explorers are everywhere: there was a Shackelton’s bar at hotel, where he stayed while trying to raise a rescue party for his crew left on Elephant Island, but you many not be so familiar with Laurence McKinley Gould, after whom this ship is named.
We have already had lots of visitors: minke whales, porpoises, white chin petrels, giant petrels and Antarctic fulmars.
Life on the boat is noisy – a constant hum of ventilation and the generator, with a thump-thump of engines resonating through steel decks and walls. There is a regular roll every 8-10 secs when underway (averaging 10 knots), which doesn’t quite rock you to sleep but does make you drowsy. I’ll fill you in about life on board next time. Meanwhile, it feels great to be on the waves again, and I am getting pretty excited about what lies ahead!