Crossing the Drake Passage, rewards thousands of tourists every year with one of the most incredible paradises on our Planet Earth!
Why the Drake Passage is the most powerful sea convergence in the World?
The stretch of around 800 kilometer in the sea between Cape Horn of South America and Shetland Islands of Antarctica, a biological boundary where subpolar warmer water meets Antarctic cold water and create a massive current and swells up high. This is also known as the roughest sea in the world.
Drake has only two things, one we call “Drake Shake” and other is “Drake Lake” Chances of having Drake Lake is very rare and to be honest there is no fun in “Drake Lake.” The real adventure is in “Drake Shake” and it should not be an excuse not going to Antarctica.
How safe it is crossing the world’s roughest sea?
Currently, many advance expedition vessels with latest weather forecasting system are operating which make the Antarctica expedition relatively easier in comparison to early times. Also, there are many medications are available to avoid sea leg or sea seasickness.
Antarctica is once in a lifetime journey for many travelers. It requires lots of mental as well as financial planning in advance. Many people take years to plan and finalize their trip to the white continent, while some keep thinking.
One beautiful sunny afternoon in Ushuaia my journey to Antarctica begins. I made my way to the pier to drop off my luggage and proceed for the boarding formalities. I am ready to board in my new floating home for the next 12 days.
Around 120 beautiful souls were greeted by the staff of Oceanwide Expedition who sorted our luggage and redirect to the reception to meet our hotel manager Ms. Zususuna.
After finishing our boarding formalities, her team showed us our cabins, my luggage was already there waiting for me in my cabin and without wasting a single second I started exploring my new floating home.
Around 1700hr everyone assembles at the lobby, where our expedition leader Ms. Lynn welcomes all passengers on board and Chief Officer Mr. Jaanus then briefed us on the safety features of the vessel and essentials do’s and don’ts on board.
After all the briefing and the mandatory safety drill, we now invited to the dining room to enjoy our first delicious meal prepared by head chef Mr. Ralf and his team.
During our dinner, all fellow passengers mingling with each other, and talking about hopes & aspirations from our voyage. Our first evening was occupied by exploring the ship, mingling with fellow passengers and acclimatizing with the new surroundings.
By the time we reached the end of Beagle Channel and headed out into the open waters of the Drake Passage- our Antarctica adventure was now fully underway!!!
It is highly advisable to sleep before entering into the Drake Passage and those have symptoms of seasickness must take pills to avoid nausea. I was very relaxed and comfortable to face the upcoming challenge.
With my previous sailing experience, “Calling myself an avid traveler and an extreme adventurer” took the situation very casually and didn’t even bother to take any kind of seasickness pills. Also, due to the long tiring day plus had a delicious meal at dinner, I slept off immediately.
In the middle of the night my body hit to the wall, I knew we are in the Drake Passage already, Initial 10-15 minutes I enjoyed that roller coaster ride but as we gone further my fun turns into panic. Slowly and gradually the waves were getting bigger and stronger. That time I felt that someone kept me in a washing machine with endless spin mode on. It was a real “Drake Shake”
Suddenly I recall that our ship doctor Ms. Annemarie told us in her briefing that those who have symptoms of seasickness better take medicine or can buy a patch from reception before entering into the Drake Passage to avoid the seasickness.
Me, being so confident calling myself an adventurer, I completely ignored her instructions. Not only that, while crossing Beagle Channel our captain himself announced that the forecast is bit rough and its better take seasickness pills to avoid nausea and get to the bed as soon as possible.
I guess it was a polite warning instead of just an announcement. I ignored him again completely!!!
That night I understood the real difference of being confident and being overconfident. As my cabin was on the lower deck, I can hear the sound of waves hitting my window loud and clear. It was really scary.
Ohh God!!! I will never forget that 36 hours of a continuous roller coaster ride in my whole life. I wish I had listened to the doctor.
I woke up in the morning with a serious headache and vomited twice. I was totally exhausted and feeling unconscious, my stomach and my head were paining like hell and I don’t want to spoil my lifetime journey due to my carelessness, so I quickly rush to the doctor for help.
And guess what I saw?
I saw many fellow travelers surrounding our doctor and waiting for the medication. Believe me, many of us (even those who took pills) had a terrible experience on the very first day in the Drake Passage.
I still remember, one lady opposite to our cabin was critically ill and took her three days to recover from seasickness. Thanks to our doctor, she really took very good care of us.
After taking medication, our doctor Ms. Annamaria suggested us to go to the bridge (top deck of our ship) and have some fresh air. After taking the fresh air, I feel better.
Suddenly our expedition lead photographer Ms. Esther grab our attention and show Albatross. That was the first time I saw Albatross- “The Bird of God” in my life. Spending a few hours on the deck admiring nature and talking with fellow travelers we all started feeling better. I must say medicine and fresh air worked well for us.
Now, it’s time for the second meal of the day. I was hungry as I already skipped my breakfast also because of vomit my stomach was empty. But we were still in the “Drake Shake” so I decided just to drink hot chocolate and eat some energy bars to keep my body active for the rest of the day.
Luckily, I manage to sleep for a few hours. Around 1900hr our team leader made a dinner call and we all gather in the dining area for our final meal of the day, most of us were looking sick. While having our meal, everyone started sharing their own Drake Passage experience. (Almost all of us had the same experience anyway!!! hehehehe!!!)
One thing I must appreciate about all the crew members of the Oceanwide Expedition team including the manager, who did a remarkable job of serving us delicious food even in the most challenging condition. (Hats off)
After having a bowl of salad and some fruits in the dinner without repeating the same mistake again I quickly took the seasickness pill and went to the bed, put my earplugs and with my music I slept off well.
With our experienced ship captain and his team, we are now approaching the paradise as per schedule. Our expedition leader Ms. Lynn made a wakeup call by 0745hr and we caught our first glimpse of a glacier, now we are officially in Antarctica.
I spend eight most amazing days of my life in Antarctica and experienced the glimpses of life in this remote and inhabitant continent.
“There is no other place like Antarctica on our planet where you feel so connected with nature. A place where you feel the true sense of your existence, a place where you feel the sense of belongingness”.
Antarctica is truly a paradise on our planet earth saying this will be an understatement. It is very hard to describe the beauty of Antarctica in words.
We did many adventures during our stay in Antarctica like Camping, Mountaineering, Kayaking, Snowshoeing and many more. Stay connected with me for my whole Antarctica experience. Check out my recent blog on Camping in Antarctica, The White Continent.
Drake Passage Again!
While heading back to Ushuaia, this time we are not much worried about crossing the world’s roughest sea again, maybe we are now more prepared and adapted to the ship too much. Most of us had a proper medication before entering to the Drake Passage. Although it was not the “Drake Lake” but with little of drowsiness, most of us had a smooth experience crossing the Drake Passage.
While crossing Drake Passage, few Albatross greeted us gliding over the crest of the waves and later on when we entered Bengal Channel a group of Dusky Dolphin swimming alongside the ship. Upon arrival in Ushuaia nature greeted us with the beautiful shades of full Rainbow. It was truly a magical.
Stay connected for more Antarctica Blogs.
Special thanks to each and every staff of Oceanwide Expedition for making my journey so memorable.
If you are planning for Antarctica contact Oceanwide Expedition and Antarctica Travels for more information to get the best packages. All the very best. Keep Exploring!!!