Crossing the Drake Passage was challenging as multiple lows moved through the area. We could see the ship’s officers constantly evaluate and re-evaluate the weather as well as our course. They really worked hard to make the ride as comfortable as possible. We really had a very comfortable ride, especially given the sea state. After crossing the Drake Passage for several days, we passed Cape Horn and entered the Straits of Magellan. The winds, often reaching >40 knots in the Drake, and really picked up (to 50 knots) for a while. The tidal currents are in excess of 2 knots, unfortunately not in our direction of travel, so we were losing propulsion given our traveling speed is 10 knots. Nonetheless, our arrival in Punta Arenas is inevitable and much anticipated. Our science gear is all packed up, some of it, particularly our samples, will be shipped back to GSO or UMB. Other gear, sample jars yet to be filled, will remain in Punta Arenas for our next cruise.
This first cruise has been spectacularly successful and lucky. We did not miss any research time due to weather or equipment failure, all aboard are returning happy and healthy and we have hundreds of samples, both physical and electronic to reveal the many questions we are asking about E. superba’s ability to survive in the beautiful but challenging polar austral winter. The crew and the science staff on board were outstanding, motivated and dedicated to enable our research. We are immensely grateful to everyone and look forward to the next cruise. Once we arrive home (in the land of unlimited internet access!) more movies and pictures will be uploaded to the blog. We will certainly be in touch from our next cruise. Until then, many thanks for all your feedback and interest in this expedition.