Underway

It always feels a little like that bit in Shakespeare in Love where the theater manager asserts that everything is going to work out. It’s all going to hell, and he doesn’t know it’ll work out, but he knows it will. And improbably, it does, again and again.

Somehow American Airlines, LATAM, Chilean customs and the DAMCO support team all got on the same page at the last minute, and everything we were waiting for dockside – with the notable exception of Adina’s backpack – arrived a few hours before we were scheduled to pull away from the pier on Christmas eve.

Last year, Christmas arrived at a lull in the science while we were buckled in for a storm mid-ocean. It felt like a holiday: we were already more than halfway through the cruise by then and had achieved that sort of bonding that is fostered by sea voyages and other inadvisable adventures. This year we were still tied up at the cargo pier and trying to get settled in.

That was three days ago, and we’re now well clear of the Chilean coast. We snuck out the western end of the Straits, turned south and are now getting our first nibbles of open ocean for a dash across the Drake. But the forecast is good: 6-8 foot waves and winds in the mid-20s.*

*(Last time, we had 30-35 ft waves and winds in the 60’s)

It’s a good science team, and more diverse than most I’ve sailed with, and I expect that we won’t run out of things to talk about during the four-week transit. Once we clear the Drake, we’ll be loosely working our way south along the peninsula, then heading west, following the ice halfway around the world to McMurdo. The biggest unknown is sea ice; in open water, the NBP can make 11 knots of headway; when there’s ice, we average about ~1-2.

I’m going to have to leave this a short, uninspired post. The seasick meds are doing fabulously, but I appear to have picked up a mild version of respiratory crud on my way down to the ship, so Antarctic sea voyage and 12-hour shifts aside, I’m not operating at peak performance.

But there’s there’ll be more to write about once we get further south, within sight of ice and land. I’ll keep you posted.

[antarctica, ship]

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