The Voyage to Antarctica
Voyages to the Antarctic Peninsula normally depart from
Ushuaia, Argentina. Ushuaia is the most southern city on
earth. We got here flying all day out of Santiago, Chile.
Our trusty ship is the Akademik Shuleykin, which used to be
part of the Russian science fleet. It's named after a Russian
arctic and antarctic explorer. After the Soviet Union
collapsed, there were no more funds for science. The ship and
many like it switched over to tourism. The crew is still
Russian, with English speakers as guides and tourists.
Reaching Antarctica requires two days on the infamous
Drake Passage, known for its extremely rough water.
The Drake cons us with gentle conditions. No such luck
on the return voyage. Never trust the Drake.
Introducing the zodiacs, from which all landings will
be made. They can really move, so I learned to hang
on tight, as the cold wind blew across my face.
Getting in and out of the zodiacs required a helping
hand. The idea is to end up in the zodiac (for landings),
or back on the long ship stairway (returning). Now we
are finally ready to hit the beach for the first time.