All good things must come to an end, and so it is with this amazing, incredible experience we have had together over the last 18 days in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica. After our last landing at sunny and calm Neko Harbour, on the continent of Antarctica, we headed more or less north, up the Antarctic Peninsula and then cut between some islands and eventually headed into the Drake Passage.
The “Drake” has a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde character; sometimes she is soft and sometimes she is angry. Your own assessment of this depends a lot on how are your sea legs. For those used to sailing in the open sea, our Drake was pretty good, although we did experience 10 metre swells on the first day. Luckily, they were coming from the stern of Fram so their effect was not so great.
Sailing out of sight of land provides the opportunity to reflect on what we have experienced- to slow down and “smell the coffee” as they say. We have had so many unique experiences over the last almost 3 weeks that this can be overwhelming but it is a necessary part of the dénouement of any life experience. In between, we continued to learn from our expedition team on a variety of polar topics, including climate change. At other times the seabirds that call the Drake their home provided unending entertainment to those of us who felt the need for fresh air on decks. In the evening of the last day at sea our captain hosted a farewell reception on deck 7 followed by the usual and traditional Captain’s Dinner.
After two days on the Drake Passage we reached the sheltered waters of the Beagle Channel and sailed west, with Chile on the port side and Argentina on the starboard, arriving at Ushuaia in the early morning today. We enjoyed a beautiful, warm day in this most southerly city in the world, either relaxing or taking an optional tour, before boarding flights for home, or staying to experience more of the “Southern Cone” of South America.
All of us had to say our goodbyes today, which is not easy but a necessary part of going home.