|Position:||54°48.0’ S / 068°17.9’ W|
On a pleasant Sunday afternoon in Ushuaia at the end of the world (“Fin del Mundo”), we were about to embark on a very special journey. At the pier, our new home for the next ten days was waiting for us: Ortelius, the ship that would take us to Antarctica in search of the Emperor penguins. Our luggage had already been brought on board, and soon we settled into our cabins and started to explore our new surroundings.
Once everybody was on board, we gathered in the lecture room on deck 3 for the first meeting. Third Officer Warren acquainted us with the safety features of the vessel, with a few rules to keep in mind on board a moving ship. Afterwards, Hotel Manager Michael introduced us to the Ortelius and her features, providing very welcome orientation. Equipped with a lot of new knowledge, it was time for the mandatory safety drill. So we gathered in the bar, put on our big orange lifejackets, and went through a roll call to make sure everybody was there. We got a look at the lifeboats, and by the time the drill was done, Ortelius was about to leave the pier. Bidding farewell to Ushuaia, we snapped our first few pictures of the trip as we started sailing into the Beagle Channel and towards Puerto Williams on the Chilean side to pick up the helicopters which were to play a vital role in our voyage plans. Black-browed albatrosses were swooping past the ship, accompanying us on our way.
In the early evening we gathered again in the bar. Expedition Leader Sebastian and his team introduced themselves, and we had a toast to the success of our voyage. Before too long it was dinner time, and we enjoyed the first of many delicious meals on board. The timing turned out to be perfect: just when dinner was finished, the first of the two helicopters approached Ortelius, flying a loop before actually landing, thus providing a lot of photo opportunities in beautiful evening light. Almost all of us were gathered at the top deck watching in excitement. It was a bit windy by now but that did not stop us from taking photos and videos, and excitedly discussing the events. Then the second helicopter came in, racing the dark clouds and winning by a few seconds before the first raindrops landed on our cameras, jackets, and noses. The wind picked up considerably, so much so that the crew had to postpone the scheduled bunkering of fuel, and Ortelius even had to leave the Puerto Williams bay. The pilots had made it just in time.