Sunday, the day we were leaving for Antarctica, we took an early morning stroll to the waterfront and spotted our industrial looking little red “expedition” ship. It was docked on our side of a long pier that ran parallel to our position on shore. There was also an enormous cruise ship tied up on the other side of the same pier. We had no problem seeing most of the sparkling white cruise ship as our little red dwarf was only big enough to obscure the bottom quarter of the cruise ship’s prow.
In the afternoon when we were taken by bus to board our red dwarf, we rode onto the pier and gawked up at the Cinderella boat and down at our ugly duckling. We wondered whether or not we had made a bad decision or not as we the inspected the bay windows of the princess and the portholes of the ugly stepsister. Oh well, too late now!! At least, our 78 passengers were able to get aboard in about 15 minutes while the 3,000 cruise ship passengers had to be brought aboard in organized tsunamis.
We departed Ushuaia on our 1,000 kilometer journey to Antarctica on February 17th, at 6:00 PM. The ship’s activities planner warned us that once we exited Ushuaia Bay, we would be in the open seas and that they could be quite rough. He said we would almost immediately enter the stretch of water known as The Drake Passage. This Passage is famous for its turbulent seas and our ship was going to take 2 days to cross it. He recommended that everyone take a Dramamine pill now and another in the morning. I had heard about the Drake Passage before and thought I would wait and see how bad it was and how well I withstood it. However, the activities planner was pretty convincing; we got our two pills each and followed the advice given.The ugly duckling took about two hours to waddle out of Ushuaia Bay on its way to the Passage. As soon as we hit the open seas, the Drake Passage began to live up to its reputation.
Initially, we had some rolling swells that came at us from the west of our southbound ship. The ship began rocking and rolling from side to side. We would tilt to port as the wave pushed in from the west and then we would roll to starboard as the wave passed underneath. The pills worked. After a couple of hours, neither Janice nor I had experienced any queasiness. We turned in and fortunately our bed was positioned abeam (I think that’s the correct term.) so that our feet faced starboard and our heads were to port. As the waves rolled in throughout the night, our feet would lift and our heads would sink. Then, a couple of seconds later, we would get the reverse effect.