Zodiac excursion during an Antarctica nature tour (Jonathan Brunger)
Latitude: 54 15.0' S, Longitude: 68 19.0' W, Wind Speed: 0 knots 0, Weather Conditions: calm, Distance covered in previous 24 hours: 0.0 nautical miles (nm), Air Temperature: 0 C, Sea Temperature: 0 C It was nice getting a full night's sleep in Ushuaia, waking up excited for the adventures ahead. During breakfast at the hotel, I realized that there was an inch of snow on the ground in Ushuaia. Isn't this the summer in Argentina? I would hate to see the winter here! Out in the Beagle Channel, a white ship was pulling into port. Could that be the my ship, the Professor Molchanov? All of the travelers met in the lobby of the hotel to prepare for the beginning of our trip. It was interesting meeting this diverse group with travelers ranging in age from 21-75 years and representing many countries, but we all shared the adventurous spirit and desire to visit Antarctica. First, we took a trip to Tierra del Fuego National Park. It was a surprisingly snowy trip but an interesting opportunity to see the park with a guide who explained the history, flora and fauna of this park that is literally at the end of the world. It was a good opportunity to introduce myself to my fellow adventurers over a cup of hot chocolate. We boarded the Professor Molchanov at 1600 hrs, the suns rays were tempered by an icy blast seemingly straight from our destination, Antarctica. At last we were soon to be on our way to the great white continent. Before the mooring ropes were freed, the first item on the agenda was to meet the staff -- at 1645 hrs in the lounge/bar we were duly introduced to the staff by our Expedition Leader Jonas Wikander. The three lecturers, Trevor Potts, Nigel Milius and Barrie McKelvey are experts in the fields of exploration and history, biology, and geology and glaciology respectively. We also met our Kayak/Camping Master, Tim Thomas, and Kayak Guide, Louise Adie, for those intrepid souls signed up for such excursions. All in all, a team with vast experience of the regions we are to explore over the next ten days. We also met the most important man on the ship, Captain Evgeny Baturkin, who proved to be a great leader and set an example for such a wonderful crew. We sailed through the Beagle Channel toward open water and the famous (or infamous) Drake Passage with which we would become well acquainted with over the next two days. I spent time out on the bow of the boat watching dolphins \"bow ride\" the Molchanov, surfing its wake and accompanying us out to the open sea. As we retired to our bunks I wondered what mood this stretch of water was going to show us; would it be mountainous seas and gale force winds, or would it be serene and glasslike? Time would tell.
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