1st April: Drake Passage

Another day, much like the others.

We’ve left the Drake Passage behind us and are now at Stanley in the Falklands.  Stanley is gleaming in the early morning sun with a distant kaleidoscope of brightly coloured buildings and an occasional stack of landrovers beside the shoreline.

Good turnout at breakfast and some people started twirling on their chairs and got so fast you could hardly see them.

We all pile into the zodiac to head off the short distance to Stanley apart from those who are still twirling in their chairs.  In fact we are all in the one zodiac, some have to stand up in the middle and it does seem rather crowded.  Suddenly a huge white sperm whale surfaces beside us and blows spray all over us.  It opens its mouth wide, right beside the zodiac, pauses for a moment and then disappears beneath the waves.

The harbourmaster greets us as we arrive in Stanley.  He has a moustache to rival the wing span of an albatross and bears a remarkable resemblance to Umberto II of Italy.

The streets are very quiet.  Very clean and quiet.  A group of us wanders into a souvenir shop.  The kindly shop attendants direct us to a large ceramic penguin.  One of our party picks it up and looks at it but manages to drop it on the floor.  It shatters and a tiny British soldier pops out in full battle gear.  This enrages the shop attendants.  They make loud screeching noises and turn into giant penguins.  They have huge beaks and look very menacing and they are coming towards us.  Fortunately we are able to move faster than the giant penguins.  Out in the street, everyone is running and giant penguins are pouring out of the houses and chasing us, screaming insults in Italian.

Finally we are back to the safety of the Customs House.  Umberto is there to greet us.  “I actually am Umberto of Italy” he explains.  “This is my retirement job.”  He is looking very old.  “This is not surprising since I am nearly 200 years old.”

So we settle down to the computers and the internet and read the news.  Japan has decided to move to a safer location somewhere near Mauritius.  This will take some time.   Already, though, the removal of the Japanese land mass has caused some distortions and California has moved down beside Mexico.  Pauline Hanson is moving to Argentina so she can open a fish and chips shop beside the runway in the suburbs of El Calafate.  Tony Abbot has become Pope, taking the name of Papadopolous III.


Crackle, crackle …


“Good morning, good people.  It is a warm 4 degrees with a windspeed of only 6 knots and in a few hours we will be approaching the Island of Lost Souls.  Breakfast is at 8:30am.”

Amanda is waking us up with the morning announcements.  Groggily I get up, shower and head for breakfast.

Yesterday, we thought we were stopping in at Beauchene Island, home to 200,000 black-browed albatrosses, then on to Stanley in the late afternoon.  Due to the high seas, this was not to be.  Today is the day of the sea.

The wild sea

Not long after breakfast, David and Martin conducted another Lightroom session, continuing the critiques of yesterday and generating a couple of postcards for everyone from the images we have taken in the last fortnight.

Later on, in the mid-afternoon we were treated to a delightful presentation from Gary on what it was like to over-winter at Mawson where he studied Emperor Penguin colonies.  The base is cut off for many months of the year and it took 11 months before he returned home.

Early on in the day, there was some blue sky, a phenomenon we had seen little of in the last week.  Up in the Bridge in the early afternoon, a brilliant glare of sunlight came bouncing in off the water.  But that didn’t mean it was calm.  We continued riding the huge swells coming up from behind us and the ship at times swung somewhat alarmingly from side to side.

Huge waves

Then sometime between four and five, we swung around into the sea to make our approach for the final few hours to Stanley.  At nine pm we heard the sound of the anchor dropping and the ship is now quiet.  This will be particularly welcome to some.

Tomorrow morning will see the distribution of the penguin suits so we can inconspicuously slip into Stanley.

6 comments on “1st April: Drake Passage

  1. Kevin Elliott says:

    Nice one. Have been reading all the posts in my email, so little temptation to do the long job and post here.

    But the psots are much appreciated, even if it takes days/weeks for them to get to us!


  2. […] 1st April:  Drake Passage (Giant Penguins) […]


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