||59°17.7’S / 062°55.5’W
We spend our first day sailing across the Drake Passage on the way back to Ushuaia. Overnight, our ship rolled among the waves as we departed the South Shetland Islands. The swell was up to 3 m with long period and at the beginning, some of our guests had a hard time to sleep. In the morning our ship held its course, North-North West heading towards the mouth of the beagle channel and our position at 08:00 AM was about 400 nautical miles South South East of Cape Horn. We had great sailing conditions during the morning, and we all enjoyed of some sun in the uppermost deck. As sun shone, we had a very crisp and sharp horizon in front of us. A few lonely birds flied in front of our ship, mostly Black Browed Albatross, they did many circles in front of us showing us why they are masters of flight.
As the day started breakfast was served on board, and given the conditions, most of our guests joined the dining room for their first breakfast on board. The exceptional weather allowed everybody to enjoy of their meal as the ship rolled slowly and gently into the waves.
For the very first part of the morning, our expedition staff gave presentations to our guests. The first of this presentations, under the title of “Ice Maidens” was made by Ali. In the first part of her lecture, she described various aspects of the women of Antarctic explorers, specifically of Emily Shackleton, Ernst Shackleton’s wife and Kathleen Scott, the wife of Robert Falcon Scott. In the second part, she describes the stories of a few modern women in the Antarctic who have accomplished extraordinary feats. Her presentation was very much welcomed by the guests and at the end of it, Ali got many questions.
Our second presentation of the morning was offered by our expedition guide Josh, who offered a presentation under the title of "Scott and Amundsen - The Race to the South Pole". In this presentation, Josh described how the Golden Age of Exploration of Antarctica happened at the beginning of the 20th century and how this era brought two individuals to a race to reach the South Pole.
Lunch was served on board at 12:30 and by this time of the day we were very happy to see most of our guests joining the restaurant feeling well in the gentle roll of the ship.
Shortly after, during the first half of the afternoon, we had the first lecture, presented by veterinarian and biologist Pierre. His presentation, made under the title “Killer Whales”. This was a superb introduction to all the non-experts about the life and habits of these beautiful cetaceans that populate the oceans of the world. In his presentation, Pierre paid special attention to describe all the aspects of the life-cycle of killer whales, their migrations, their feeding habits, and the dangers that can threat them. He showed various videos and sounds bringing many of his vivid experiences with killer whales to our guests.
For the second part of our afternoon, we had a guest lecture, offered by master diver, Faith Ortins. With the title “Under the Water” Fait described how the divers braved the cold Antarctic waters to explore what lies beneath the waves. This graphic presentation showed the rich forms of life they encountered during the multiple dives they made on this and other trips to the Antarctic.
During the early evening we had our daily recap. Here Ali presented the plans for the next day. We had two interesting recaps from Catherine explaining the Beaufort Scale, the scale used by sailors and navigators to measure the state of the waves and wind in the ocean. Later Annelou presented an interesting recap describing the history of our ship and how it was built in the Netherlands as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy under the name of Hr. Ms. Tydeman. She showed images of the ship serving for the Dutch Navy and shared some stories of the people who worked on it. At the end of the recap, Faith Ortins had a small intervention in which she referred to the 200 anniversary of the discovery of the Weddell Sea on this date, by James Weddell in 1823. As part of this anniversary, Faith presented a commemorative plaque to the M/V Plancius. The plaque is decorated with commemorative coins of Antarctic explorers, and the plaque has an old German chart of the Antarctic made in 1906 as background. The plaque will be displayed in the Lounge and Ali received it on behalf of Crew and Staff. We should note that this was a very nice detail from Faith, and we are very grateful with her and her husband for the donation.