Call it karma, fate, a fluke, anything you like; one thing was certain, we had been extremely lucky throughout our entire Antarctic adventure – from wildlife sightings to sea conditions.
On our maiden voyage through the passage the sun shone down on us for the most part and a few white horses and slight swells were all that we encountered. The Pioneer pitched and rolled (gently some might say) but the bows were never truly awash with salty spray for long.
Following our relatively peaceful passage first time round, we were expecting the worst on the return leg, stowing all that we could to avoid disaster and more than a few passengers popping a Phenergan or two to be on the safe side. The dining room was quiter than usual as the effects of a near gale force 7-8 (on the Beaufort scale) took hold and we were tossed around in ‘moderate’ seas with winds gusting and the odd wave crashing over the bow, port and starboard sides…..
We had seen footage from previous expeditions. Trust us, just google “drake passage” and you will see for yourself why the Drake has earned it’s reputation of being a passage of dread for some, whipping up a storm with that tests the most hardened sailor.
As we neared Cape Horn, the seas calmed and it was time to get ready for the Captain’s farewell drinks. Just before this, Lesley our ship’s doc reminded us of the many men that had lost their lives at sea and especially in these waters; the Cape and notorious Drake Passage were considered a milestone for many a sailor aboard a clipper that made use of the trade winds.
Once again we thanked our lucky stars as we were blessed with a safe passage and also rewarded with a picturesque sunset across the Cape. A handful of passengers, including us (natch), stayed on in the bar, toasting our adventures and throwing some shapes, as we headed back towards the Beagle Channel, to pick up the pilot that would accompany the ship back into port.,