The Journal


This will have to do until we get the actual Journal typed.  These are email notes Jackie & I sent to our kids and friends.  I expect there are inaccuracies and such which will be corrected by the Journal.

 So, until then:

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January 19  

Just an update.  We just left the city of Ushuaia, Argentina.  We docked there last night after leaving the Strait of Magellan and going through some of the Beagle Channel.  We saw many glaciers and WOW was there blue ice.  Several of the glaciers went to the water and it is hard to believe that 30-40 years ago most of the area was ice/snow covered – no more – just the peaks of the mountains.  It is still beautiful.  

The Andes are stunning and there are many snow caps.  They are so jagged and just lovely.  The water is clear & clean and the air smells good.  

Today we took a catamaran ride around some of Beagle Channel and saw seals, blue-eyed cormorants and steamer ducks (flightless) and some chicks.  So far no whales – guess they are hiding from the Japanese.  We also toured Tierra del Fuego National Park – it was different and very scenic.  It’s on a large island that has the boundary of Chile and Argentina going through it.  It did have a beaver problem since they were imported many years ago to create a fur industry that failed.  The beaver did succeed in breeding and destroying many trees so now they are being removed.  There is a European rabbit that was introduced and it is large and brown – one makes two cottontails.  We saw the southern most golf course in the world with some beautiful streams going through/around it.  Patagonia is just as lovely as I thought it would be.  

Ushuaia is called the end of the world.  It is the last city on South American and it’s on an island.  It’s an attractive town with many restaurants and shops.  60,000 people live there and it has an airport which would be a thrill to land in since it has water on three sides.  

Our Captain is terrific.  He had some of his men take a boat – yesterday- and get a piece of glacial ice and had it hoisted on board so we could touch it.  It’s the coldest ice ever.  He has also changed some of the itinerary so we can see things he thinks are beautiful and that we would really like to see as opposed to just sailing from port to port.  We are now heading for Cape Horn (its 8:30 pm /Sat).  We should arrive at the end about midnight which should be about dusk here.  We are three hours ahead of Eastern Time.  I think the suns sets about 11:30 ish.  We are back in the Beagle Channel and we are going to circumnavigate Cape Horn so we can see it’s an island.  

Today has been lovely about 63 degrees this afternoon – our guide told us today that in this part of Patagonia there are about 8 days a year where the sun shines all day (lots of rain showers) and we happened to hit one.  



Wow!  We’re in/on Drakes Passage, perhaps half way to Antarctica .  The sky is brilliant blue; we’re followed by several albatrosses (sp?) – Perhaps one is a chick we saw hatched while in the Galapagos Islands   

The seas are running 12 – 15 feet or more, and this is a calm day.   The sea has changed color and has gone from a milky color near the glaciers, to an emerald in the Beagle Channel to a wonderful azure blue here on the Drake.  I don’t think any photo will do it justice.  We did pass a ship wreck & I got a great picture – I’ve taken maybe 1meg or more – and we’re not 2/3 done – Antarctica tomorrow!

We came upon Cape Horn just about midnight .  I’m uncertain I got a good picture, but I’ll try to find one.  If there’s a pic attached, then I did get at least one good one; I’ll send a moon rise, in any case. We circumnavigated Cape Horn .  I was not the only one who didn’t know the entire area are islands – I thought the “end of the world” was the southern end of one large island south of the Magellan Strait.  Who knew?  

We sat out on our veranda until after midnight .  From 7:00 – 9:00 we (I) had only a tee shirt on.  About 10:00 we put on light jackets.  Around 11:00 it was time for several layers, gloves, etc.  Right now we have 35 mph winds from the S.W.  We’re at 55.94 S, 65.43 W.  We’re 332 miles from Cape Horn and 180 miles to Deception Island – which is nothing more than very large calderas.  



January 21  

Antarctica !  

Woke up to snow and cold.  


7:30 – saw 1st iceberg.  A blue color I can’t describe.   700 yards from Deception Island .  (We later found out the navigator made an error on our information screens and we won’t see Deception Island till tomorrow – its actually over 200 miles away.  

8:00 - On the way to a small bay where the odds of seeing whales today is our best chance. (Coffee sent to room; its chilly & we’re dressed in layers in room!)  

Passed a research station – closed & cold.  Saw something small in the water; don’t know what it was, and a couple small birds; its  snowing like crazy,  

9:00 - Went to breakfast.  Saw, what was in the general opinion, a baby & mother whale.  Went to the “looking glass” and stood around for a while.  Capt. came on to say that the wind has really come up and he had to pull in the stabilizers because of all the ice in the water.  Consequently, the ship will roll a bit more than normal, particularly on turns.  

10:30 – Snowing like crazy – horizontal snow!  Jackie went out on deck so she could be in an actual Antarctic snow.  It snows so hard, with flakes so large; it appears to be a fog bank.  You can’t believe how fresh and clean the air smells.  

11:00 – We into Paradise Bay .  Spent over and hour there slowly turning around.  Two research stations there.  Although the ice & mountains seem only 500 feet or so away, your sense of perception is totally off, as you can only see ice, sea, icebergs and mountains.  When we saw the one research station it looked too small to photograph; the second was close enough that with 12x you could se there were buildings.  It takes this type of thing to see you’re soooo small and everything around d you is sooo big!


12:00- Saw 3 or 4 penguins sitting on an iceberg.  After a while over a dozen came up and were porpoising – flying through the air, jumping up and diving down, to fly up through the air again.

1:45 – “Saw” whales.  Each time we see them they’re too far to photograph.  Maybe got a shot of a back and some spouts.

4:30 – Keep standing outside and freezing.  We have passed within 50 yard’s or less of several large icebergs.  

5:50 – reached the 60.00 S parallel – as far south as we can go.  We start north now, seeing one or two penguins on some of the ice bergs.  Again whales – but we really can’t see them.  

I am very surprised at all the mountains, as I never gave that much thought.  We learned at a lecture today the Antarctic plateau is not flat at all, as the South Pole is at over 10,000 feet.  The difficult part of the trips to the pole, other than the “normal” things like subzero weather, high winds and such, is the fact you’re climbing over two miles up.  

Finally the sun broke thru the clouds for a few moments- the 1st sun all day.  Its time for dinner, but we hate to go in because we make miss something.  However, after standing out there for an hour or so, you get cold to the core.  

We think we may be far enough south now that we will not truly have night, but only dusk until dawn.

We’re all seen blue ice before, BUT NEVER as blue as these glaciers and icebergs.  Jackie pointed out that with this clear water and with such a large percentage under the water, that seem to “bleed blue into the water”.  

Actually, we’ve been outside for most of the day, in many layers of clothes.  None-the-less, we’ve been very cold.  This type of cold is very dry, but we don’t want to hear the old “its cold, but a dry cold” type stuff – it’s very, very cold.   We brought the camera and binoculars inside.  When I picked them up they wanted to stick to my fingers and stung my hands!  

As I finish my part of the note, its bright out, although its 8:30 pm . Is 32 degrees, and the water temp is 32 degrees, win.  We’re now at 64.28 S, 62.19 W, 100 miles from Deception Island , and wind at  32 mph. We’ve traveled 3,276 miles since we got on the ship. We saw pictures of the ship that sank a month or so ago.  The hole in the hull, caused by an iceberg was the size of my fist.  We have had additional pilots ever since we entered the Magellan Strait and now have an ice pilot aboard.  

I’ve got more pictures of icebergs, islands and glaciers than National Geographic!  Enough to bore you for several hours/days/months……  




No much to add (well the deserts are terrific and I’ve gained about 30 pounds) – Earl pretty much covered the most amazing of days.  It is so very white and the air smells so clean.  We have seen most weather except warm and sunny.  The sun did make an appearance – we got snowed/sleeted and rained on.  It is very cold but we rather thought it would be.  





January 22  

Inside the calderas at Deception Island.  Other than very narrow entrance, you are surrounded by the volcanic crater rim.  The height of the rim is terribly high, and as there’s nothing against which to judge or compare, we cannot guess how high – maybe 10,000 feet. Water temperature is 28 degrees – except for one small bay where you could actually go swimming.  You need to wear shoes in case you touch the bottom, it’s so hot.  Other than the bright red & green lichen, some of which are found nowhere else in the world, everything is either a stark black or white.   

It is bitter cold – 34 degrees with a wet, 38 mph wind which is picking up water spray & sending it in your face. Ooops, it’s gusting to 48 mph now!  Is difficult to get meaningful pictures, while your eyes can see depth easily, the white on white and black on black backgrounds make it difficult to reproduce what we see on film.  

The Captain, who has never been to Antarctica before, and who has his wife and 3 year old son along, is having a great time – he’s as excited about everything as his passengers.  Some of the crew had never seen snow before and they crowd the windows and deck every time something comes up.  Anyway, the calderas has a mountain within it.  The Captain is attempting to get the sonar to pick it up and print out the pattern so he can print it for us to see.  

There’s an Argentine and a Spanish base here with several visiting boats.  The wind has picked up and the Captain feels he needs to get us out of here.  He’s ordered another boiler/ engine started to get more power. He said it would be best if everyone exhaled as we go out the narrow entrance.  




We just saw the most amazing thing ever – to me.  We saw a rookery of chinstrap penguins.  There were thousands of them dotting a hill top of an ice cliff which looks like a giant rock formation but it’s actually volcanic rock and ice – basically ice.  The little guys were in the water too but they are so quick it’s hard to see them for very long.  The Capt. tried to get close to the rookery and he did well.  Of course you still needed binoculars which are a good thing for the penguins.  The Capt. is in his 30’s and his wife and 2 year old son are on board.  He is terrific and so excited – this his first trip here also.  He has an ice captain assisting and we are now heading for “big” icebergs.  




We’re “hunting the big bergs.”  And we’ve starting to find them.  Some are so large – flat, long, squarish – that they are difficult to frame on a photo.  We were in “iceberg alley” – what an incredible sight.  Some of the icebergs were over a mile long – others over 600 feet high.


Then we keep going around the Antarctic Peninsula and we see a few penguins.  We keep watching the icebergs and all of a sudden we are surrounded by thousands of penguins.  They are either Adele or Chinstrap.  They are jumping on and off little icebergs, they are porpoising and then we spot a large rookery near an Argentine station (research).  There is also the sister ship of the Norwegian boat that sunk over a month ago – in fact this ship came to the Fram’s rescue.  The sea was churning with the “little guys” and what a sight to behold.  This has been the day of penguin sighting – amazing!!  



January 24

Good bye Antarctica .  

We woke to Elephant Island this morning – also deep fog, rain and a bit of sleet.  We have air temp at 32 degrees, water at 28 degrees, and winds at 38 mph.  We’ve seen where Shackelton first landed and where he then moved to Wild Point where he left 22 men to attempt an 800 mile open boat (a small life boat) ride with 3 other men in an attempt to get to the nearest whaling station. 


You MUST read “Endurance”.  As I said before, it’s a page turner, but now that I’ve seen where Shackelton actually was and what he actually had to live with, I cannot ever be more impressed with a man and his crew.  

We went right over where the Antarctic tourist ship sank a couple weeks ago.  While in Deception crater we saw the ship that picked up many of the passengers from these frigid waters.   The Captain was to try to get a sonar printout of the mountain in the center of the crater but I haven’t gone down to see if he got it / posted it.  

As for photography today, everything is, as I said, stark black or white, or a hundred shades of white with sky, clouds, fog and snow, creating real difficulty in achieving visual discrimination.  

So, we see some more penguins and the pink colored rookery (pink from “penguin processed” krill) where 10,000s of them live.  We’ve seen 4 types of penguins so far: Gentoo, Magellan (with chicks – up close & personal), Chinstrap, and Adele.  

Yesterday we saw rookeries with 1,000s; I would venture to guess 10,000’s of them.  Saw additional penguins beside the ship, but I’ve given up on trying to take pictures of them; they’re just too damn quick.  I do have video of them and a neat shot thru the ship’s bow camera of the ship “herding” 1,000’s of them before us.  Did get my first really good pics of Cape Petrels.   

We haven’t seen any Albatrosses since we entered  Antarctica because the winds are not strong enough.  Now that we’ve waved Antarctica good bye, passing the easternmost point of Elephant Island , the wind (now 44 mph) and waves have immediately increased dramatically and we may again pick them up.  

Ooops - The Albatrosses are back.  There are two types; a brown one and the larger one with white wings.  We’ll need someone to identify them for us.



Janaury 25  


We’re at 53.00 S and 55.11 W.  Course is 358 and we’re in over 6,000 ft of water. We’ve sailed 4,204 miles.   

Things changed during the night.  We’re out of the confluence of the Atlantic and Pacific.  The seas are “medium to high with blown spray”, which means you can safely walk without too great a chance of mowing someone down.  The temperature has risen to 50 degrees and the water temperature is up to 39; winds at 25 mph.    

There is nothing, and I mean nothing to see today, so I slept in.  Jackie has an appointment at the beauty parlor and had to get up at 7:30 – poor thing.  Yes, the sun is out and the seas are simply beautiful, but none-the-less, there’s nothing of note.  I’m still trying to get a really good picture of an Albatross, but they know it; so little luck.  

The closest we’ll come to seeing an attraction today is the Falkland Islands at about 5:00 pm , but as they’re 45 miles away, there’s nothing but the ship’s mapping on the closed circuit TV to tell us it’s nearby.  It is good to see the sun again, however.  Maybe a whale or two will cross our path.  

No such luck, but as we ate dinner a pod of what we believed to be dolphins swam up to the ship.  

It’s up to 54 degrees and the sea is mirror calm tonight.  Hope to be far enough north to get sunset pics.  Will be on board all day again tomorrow.  



January 26  

Boring – 2

Well, another day a sea – with one more to follow until we get to Montevideo .  Went to a couple lectures; the one on the Tango was pretty interesting.  Did you know that one of the most popular places for dancing the tango is – of all places – Finland?  There’s a house (bordello) in Montevideo that is supposed to be the home of Tango. There are supposed to be tango dancers in the streets in both Montevideo and Buenos Aries.  

There’s also a section of Buenos Aries that every guide says we cannot miss – Bocho. This is now the artist’s section of town and everyone says to be certain to go there to take pictures and see the street performers.  

We just attended a lecture on the technical specification of the ship.  When I get home, and if you’re interested, I’ll make a copy for email.  Suffice it to say that items such as how many tons of fuel we use at full speed (18.5 knt), in 24 hours, is 94 tons.  

We also met with the Capt., Chief Engineer and Ice Captain/Pilot for a Q&A session.  What a unique experience.  We learned that other than the Ice Pilot, no-one on the bridge had ever been to Antarctica .  That’s why they were as openly and candidly excited as were the passengers.  


  The Ice Pilot made any number of suggestions that changed the itinerary (there was no real itinerary for Antarctica , per se, until we got there) such as our trip thru Iceberg Alley.  He also said he would refuse to take a hip any larger than ours into the areas we went because it would not be nimble enough to dodge icebergs as we did.  

We also learned why, in his opinion, the ship Explorer, went down a month or so ago, in the same area we were in.  Another ship which never made it out of the Magellan is attached – this is actually serious business.  The sister ship to the Explorer was damaged by an iceberg just a couple weeks ago.  It lost power and slid into an iceberg.  The damage was minimal; they crushed some lifeboats. 


It has been a beautiful day.  We’ve been far enough from Drake’s Passage that we’ve lost the petrels and albatrosses.  As the day ends, we find ourselves at 43.19 S and 55.22 W.   Our course is 1 degree. The temperature here at 8:30 is 59 and the water temp is 50 degrees.  Looks like shorts on the veranda tomorrow!  Montevideo is 506 miles to the north, as we have gone 4,783 miles.  



Not much exciting.  I lost four dollars in a poker slot machine but the good news is that it was not as fast as usual.  I guess we’ve bet a whole $10 in slots.  

Pam and I had a computer class this morning on Excel and I did learn something and considering I didn’t know much at all it was worth it.  

We get to Montevideo , Uruguay the day after tomorrow and it will be nice to see land.  We check email about every two days so let us know how things are going.  



January 27  

Boring – 3

Well, it’s now after lunch and we will be in the Drake Passage for at least 12 or more hours; I’ll have to look it up.  Our next stop is Montevideo .  We’ll be at sea for 2 days, I guess.  Cape Horn is 450 to the N.W. Our course is 357 to 2 degrees, depending on how the bow gets tossed around.  

Everyone is doing the “Drake Tango” they try to walk – we’re doing 18.3 to 19.5 knots, with cross seas are running 10, 12, 14 feet, and we are maintaining winds of 38 – 42 mph.  The sea temp remains at 28 degrees, and the air temp is 32.  We’re in fog and rain comes and goes; rather boring – glad we brought good books.  Can’t wait until we pick up satellite coverage again so we can see what’s happening in the world.  Maybe we’re better off not knowing.     

After dinner – the sun is out!!  Tried  to get good “sea power” pics from the 4th deck.  The waves never look as high on film as they actually are, however the wind was so strong on the port side I could not open the door, so I took pictures through the window.   I could get out on starboard, but the waves/wind was so strong I think I got more spray on the lens -  might prevent seeing what I taped.

Four whales came by during dinner – no attempt to take pictures.  




I think Earl summed the day.  Of course I thought about chumming for penguins but figured I would get caught and thrown off the ship in the Falklands .

I’ve been staggering some too – some older than me man lost a plate of spaghetti at dinner .  It looks like it just slid off the plate.  

 Still rocking and rolling on Journey



January 28  

This evening finds us at 126 miles from Montevideo, at 35.55 S and 55.28 W.  The temperature is up to 75 degrees and the water is up to 55 degrees, with 43 mph winds.  Our course remains 359 degrees and we’re at 13.5 knots.  It’s cloudy so our laser star gazing will probably be cancelled again.  This sucks – I’ve been south of the equator maybe 6 – 9 times and have yet to see the Southern Cross. 


This is our third day at sea; enough!  We pull in to Montevideo tomorrow morning and then the next, and last day, we pull into Buenos Aries.  The ship then departs for Rio , where they dock for four days for Carnival.  

Not a whole lot to say today, maybe more tomorrow.



January 29 


Last Report

Tonight is the last night on the ship.  We’re in Montevideo .  Its 75 + degrees and the water is a warm 64.  We’re at 53.97 S and 56.12 W.   If you wonder about the lat & long readings, this is because Karen said she was going to Google Earth each day to see where we were, and I thought it might give the USPS Commander a kick. We’ve sailed 5,314 miles.  We get off he ship at 7:30 tomorrow morning in Buenos Aries, where we’ll spend two days touring on our own.  

The clouds parted long enough last night for a laser-pointer star gazing session.  The wind very nearly blew us off the very top deck, but we saw all the southern constellations, both of the Magellan clouds, and (gasp!)  I got to see both the two false Southern Crosses and the real, honest to God, Southern Cross.  We also tracked a satellite and saw a falling star which the guide said was the brightest he had ever seen at sea.  

We walked Montevideo for about four hours today.  As it is Sunday, the vast majority of the shops were closed.  Did that keep us from buying?  We’re to the point we’ll buy a suitcase in Buenos Aries.  

Montevideo appears to be a poor, but very clean little town. It has a very old section with narrow streets, 10 foot double doors, and buildings with absolutely beautiful balconies. The “new town” appears to be old and equally run down – with narrow streets.  


On the other hand they had street cleaners on every block and every square.  They also have Tourist Police on nearly every corner.  We went in a corner market for some tea and coffee which we bring back for a some folks, and everyone we met on the street and market was very friendly.  The cultural changes in the people we’ve seen continue.  Perhaps that was the most significant social education we’ve received.  

On  the way out of port, we passed where the Graf Spea (sp?) was scuttled and the Carpathian Star sank under mysterious circumstances. 




Last night we went stargazing with Andrea Oliveri (cruise director) and it was wonderful.  Actually we couldn’t see any stars by the pool until we went further up the steps near the pool area and the lights went out – wow.  He used a laser pointer and it was fun.  Finally saw the Southern Cross “for the first time”– a falling star and a satellite. Of course we saw stars we would never be able to see in the US .  The Milky Way was wonderful to see.  

Montevideo has some lovely spots and is not as nice as Santiago but then Chile is beautiful.  I think half of the population of Uruguay lives in Montevideo and so Uruguay is a smaller country.