Another brief change of passengers in Ushuaia and we have set our bow for the Antarctic continent again. At this moment we are still in the Beagle Passage but as we are minutes away from leaving this sheltered area it is worth giving some thought to the body of water ahead of us. The Drake Passage. It has a fearsome reputation and one that is well earned. Countless ships came to grief in these waters in the days of sail and it is still not uncommon to get caught in serious weather that threatens even the modern steel behemoths that ply these waters today. In point of fact, just two days ago as we last crossed the Drake we were happily navigating through moderately calm waters whilst another ship, just hours ahead of us, came into some serious strife. A big wave crashed over the bow driving steel railings through the bridge window. The bridge is the heart of a ship and salt water crashing around is obviously not a great thing… within seconds she had lost all electronic and communications and was in serious trouble. Luckily for them a passing ship was able to deliver a satellite phone which as it turned out was the only possible form of communication for the vessel after this disaster.
Luckily for them they managed to get all systems running after a short period, but it is a timely reminder for two in the blue that these are serious waters and we need to be prepared! It also stresses the importance of reading weather patterns. As noted we had a relatively calm crossing (I use relative for I’m sure our little yacht would be tossed around in waves that barely rock a big ship like this). This was almost entirely down to choosing the right path in relation to shifting weather systems. When Widdershins takes to the Southern Ocean we will need to be on the ball and ahead of the game to get comfortably down to the most isolated continent on Earth!