Silver Explorer, Antarctica: Day 10 – The Race To Beat The Storm Through The Drake Passage

Day 10 – The Race To Beat The Storm Through The Drake Passage

Almost there …

Yesterday, I wrote about how we were racing to get ahead of a storm that was moving directly across our path as we make our to Ushuaia after spending six days in Antarctica. Here’s an update on our progress and the storm we are hoping to miss.

3 a.m. The chart above indicates the wave heights at this hour. We are slightly ahead of the storm, within the blue area that indicates wave heights of only 2 meters to 3 meters (about 6 feet to 9 feet). The chart further indicates that to our port side, quite a ways off, the storm is creating waves of up to 8 meters (about 24 feet). We’re ahead of the storm at the moment, squeezing in a narrow “low wind and wave” corridor as we make our way to the Beagle Channel.

So far, so good. There is little motion on Silver Explorer, even though we’re pushing 16.30 knots at the moment. The captain is driving Silver Explorer even harder than yesterday, when our speed was around 15.1 knots. There must be a sense of urgency to get to sheltered waters.

3:30 a.m. Interestingly, our speed has dropped to 7 knots, from 16.30 only 30 minutes ago. I assume that we have succeeded in averting the storm. The sailing is exceptionally calm. and the wind has died considerably. At times yesterday winds were up to 70 kilometers per hour. Now the wind is blowing at around 24 kilometers per hour.

8 a.m. I awaken to calm seas and virtually no movement of the ship except for the slow and steady progress toward the Beagle Channel. At breakfast, I meet with Captain Adam Boczek and congratulate him on his success. He told me that we reached sheltered waters at around 3:30 a.m., which corresponds to what I had seen on the in-stateroom television (the ship’s speed, position and other data are displayed on the television). Captain Boczek added that we were probably helped by the Southern Current, boosting our speed.

Had we been caught in the storm, we would have been facing a bumpy ride, and with our speed slowed, it would have taken us all day — and possibly the night — to reach Ushuaia.

11 a.m. We are cruising at around 6 knots. We expect to pick up the pilot at around 14:00. There is a well-attended lecture being presented in the Theatre, “Wealth in the Waters? The Legacy of Whaling in Antarctica.” Lunch will be served at noon, followed by two more lectures. Again, no shortage of activity on our day at sea.

11:15 a.m. Kara makes the announcement that we managed to escape the “huge storm system” and that we expect to be in Ushuaia at 19:00 tonight.

14:00 Silver Explorer picked up the local pilot, who, like most local pilots, arrived by boat and climbed onto the ship. Although the captain could easily navigate the ship back to Ushuaia himself — after all, he took us through sea ice, past icebergs, crossed the Drake Passage (twice) — pilots are required to be on the bridge when cruising into ports.

17:47 Arrival back in Ushuaia. We’ll overnight here, giving those who wish opportunities to explore the town at the end of the world. Busses to the airport for our charter flight back to Buenos Aires tomorrow at 9 a.m. sharp.

Tomorrow, a recap of a wonderful voyage on Silver Explorer.

December 12 Ushuaia, ArgentinaCharter flight from Buenos Aires; Embark Silver Explorer5:00 PM
December 13Sailing The Drake Passage
December 14Crossing The Drake, Day 2
December 15Cruise & Explore the Antarctic Peninsula
December 16Cruise & Explore the Antarctic Peninsula
December 17Cruise & Explore the Antarctic Peninsula
December 18Cruise & Explore the Antarctic Peninsula
December 19Cruise & Explore the Antarctic Peninsula
December 20Sailing the Drake Passage, Redux
December 21Sailing the Drake Passage
December 22Ushuaia, Argentina8:00 AMDisembark Silver Explorer; return charter flight to Buenos Aires.
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