Antarctica - Spirit of Shackleton, Journey Home
Jan 2, 2006
|Cape Horn is at the southernmost tip of South America. It's notorious because poor weather conditions make it difficult to round in sailing ships. Before the construction of the Panama Canal, the route around the Horn was an important path for trade and passenger ships crossing from the east to west coast of the continent. Due to the dangerous waters, "going round the Horn" is often called the sailing equivalent of climbing Mount Everest.
02 Jan 2006
All passengers were on deck this morning as we cruised past Cape Horn. There's a sculpture on shore in the shape of an albatross that honors the lost souls of the sailors who died while attempting to "round the Horn". Aaron, our Expedition Leader, read the inscription to us: "I am the albatross that waits for you at the end of the earth. I am the forgotten soul of the dead sailors who crossed Cape Horn from all the seas of the world. But they did not die in the furious waves. Today they fly in my wings to eternity in the last trough of the Antarctic wind." We were lucky today to experience calm waters, but this poem made us remember that this was not always the case. In the afternoon we went on a tour of the engine room. It's hot and noisy and filled with more equipment than I'll ever manage to understand. Had Captain's Farewell Cocktails in the evening and once again the chef worked his culinary magic and presented us with another 7-course farewell dinner. Will hate returning to my backpacker diet after being so spoiled onboard. Cruised through the Beagle Channel over dinner and eventually arrived back in Ushuaia harbour where we were blessed with a fantastic pink Patagonia sunset. Then most of the "younguns" on the ship (of which I include myself) did what sailors do when they arrive in port ... went for a night out in town, not returning to the ship until 4am.
03 Jan 2006
Only 2.5 hours of sleep, and I was hit with the harsh reality that our Antarctica trip was over. After 18 days of amazing fun and adventure, I wasn't ready to walk down the gangplank and say goodbye to all my new friends ... I just wanted to turn around and do the trip all over again ...
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Antarctica - our planet's last wild frontier. It really is a pristine paradise teeming with an unbelievable amount of wildlife, and surrounded by incomparable breathtaking scenery. Its huge wildlife resources have been disastrously exploited in the past, most notably whales and seals, and at present it seems the main exploitation of Antarctica in the near future could possibly be tourism.
My trip to Antarctica was hugely educational for me, and maybe what I've written has taught you a few things as well. I hope it will encourage you to learn more. More importantly, I hope it will encourage you to do what you can to protect this paradise and its wildlife. To continue to protect the majestic whales and the cute little burpy smelly seals that were so devastated in the past. To help protect the wandering albatrosses who are drowning on the ends of long line fishing hooks. And if this story has encouraged you to visit Antactica yourself, then - PLEASE - make sure you go with an expedition company that takes great care to have as minimal an impact to the region as possible.
If I had any expectations at the beginning ... this trip by far surpassed them.
If I've seen some fantastic places and done some incredible things over the years ... this trip has by far surpassed those experiences as well.
It has undoubtedly become the "best adventure of my lifetime". Bar none.