No icebergs. No announcement from Billy calling us down to the zodiacs. Not a whale in sight. All I could see out of the window was the endless grey sea, dappled with white caps. Alas, we are not in Antarctica anymore, but are speeding across the Drake Passage on our way back to Puerto Williams.
The sea was a little choppy, but not what I would call rough. I was hoping for some real wave motion soon, I want to see the Drake Passage shows its real colors.
There were lectures all day, interspersed with looking out for wildlife from the open deck and Observation lounge.
My favorite lecture of the day was on Tom Crean, an Irish sailor who was on Scott and Shackleton’s expeditions, and lived to tell the tale, ending up owning a pub in County Kerry called the South Pole. Everyone always talks about the leaders of the expeditions, but the men who risked their lives to follow the leaders are seldom mentioned, and their bravery and heroism goes unnoticed. It was lovely to hear a tribute to this extraordinary man.
Another very interesting talk was on the women of Antarctica which focused on the initial reluctance to allow women to set foot on the continent to the role that women play today in Antarctica. I thought about the 4 young women who are spending the southern summer working at Port Lockroy. Things have certainly changed over the past 100 years.
Between lectures we sat reading in the Panorama Lounge watching us make our way across the passage and marveling at the number of birds that were following our wake.
Just before noon Schalk made the announcement that due to weather conditions we would not be going around Cape Horn, but would be heading straight to Puerto Williams, and should arrive there by 1:00 PM tomorrow.
I had really been looking forward to going around the Horn, but I suppose safety does come first. And it might be quite good fun to wander around Puerto Williams tomorrow.
We had to retrieve our boots from the mud room. We had been very concerned about how we were going to be able to clean the bird poop and sand and mud off our boots after our shore excursions, and had brought a series of brushes and cloths along with us. We needn’t have worried. The facilities for boot cleaning were excellent, and when we took our boots back to the cabin they were cleaner than they had ever been before.
In the evening there was the Captain’s Farewell party and the Silver Cloud crew parade. As always there was champagne and canapes.
Schalk did most of the talking, we really have heard very little from the captain. He has done an excellent job steering the ship around the Antarctic islands, so I cannot fault him for that, but it would have been nice if he had made some noon announcements with daily updates. Schalk, as expedition leader, has done a great job of keeping us informed, but I think some things just should be done by the captain.
After Schalk said his farewells there was the crew parade where we get to thank them all for taking such amazingly good care of us. I have been very impressed by the level of service on the ship. Everyone has been very professional and obliging. Silversea is very lucky to employ such a wonderful group of people.
We had booked to go to Hot Rocks tonight. In the evenings the pool grill is turned into the alternative dining venue, Hot Rocks. Here you dine al fresco under the stars and cook your meal on a slab of a hot rock. It sounds perfect for warm Mediterranean evenings, but does it work in the Drake Passage? I mean, here we are in one of the most dangerous waterways on the planet, is it really wise to attempt this. I mean, what happens if you hit a wave and your rock lands in your lap? Could be nasty.
I felt it was my duty to research it more. It had been overcast all day, with a few snow squalls, but by our reservation time of 8:00 PM the sun had come out, the wind had blown the clouds away. It was still absolutely freezing, although our red parkas and the infra-red lights (not stars alas) above us were of great help in maintaining a reasonable body temperature.
As we sat down we were the only folks there. Brian looked a bit concerned about the whole thing, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I was ready to try this out.
We ordered our meal, and in due course, the hot rocks appeared. We cooked our food on them, and I must say the result was a totally delicious meal. I didn’t feel cold at all, and our food was piping hot. I think this is a brilliant idea. It’s just a shame that more people didn’t join us.
After dinner we went to the Panorama Lounge for the evening’s entertainment. Tonight it was Liars Club, and we settled in to enjoy what the expedition staff had to offer. We had a drink and waited. I had another drink and waited. We were enjoying Florandy singing and playing the piano, but were wondering what had happened to this evening’s entertainment.
Finally Jonathan arrived and announced that the expedition staff had completely forgotten that they were meant to be entertaining us, and had gone to bed. You really couldn’t blame them. I was actually feeling that it was bedtime myself, so off we went back to the cabin hoping that there would be some good rocking motion tonight as we crossed the passage.