Every morning Greg Mortimer greets us / wakes us up with "Good morning possums" over the tannoy system. I'm not entirely sure what a possum is, an Australian later explained to me that it's a kind of giant rat...however, this wake-up each morning is completely endearing. This address is usually followed up with a fact about the day, what is outside, where we have been sailing and what time breakfast is on at (usually in 10 mins). Most of us are up and out of bed as we can't get ready for a day in Antarctica in 10 mins, let alone having a shower in Drake Passage conditions!
So the Drake passage. Well, I didn't sleep well last night; most people that had taken a phenergan (Australian antihistamine) before going on the ship, plus one of the doctors blue pills didn't sleep sleep well (if at all). Perhaps it was the creaking of the ship or the fact that the beds in our cabin went across the ship, so the rocking from the waves was head to toe instead of from side to side. Either way, it didn't matter because the Drake Passage has the roughest seas in the world. The Drake Passage is categorised as the part of the Southern Ocean between Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands. Youtube will show you some of the worst crossings ("Drake Shake") we however, were exceptionally lucky ("Drake Lake") with 1-4 m swells. This is as good as the Southern Ocean gets.
The Southern Ocean is the only Ocean not interrupted by land mass and it's span is the whole way around the globe. Therefore, it is defined by katabatic winds making the swells high and providing very rough sailing conditions. Despite having Drake Lake, the current was unpredictable (I can't remember the term Greg used, but it meant the rocking was not steady, but a bit all over the place, changing directions). Combine this with us all getting our "sea legs" on the first few days plus the strong anti-sickness medication, it meant that the Drake pass was spent lying on bed listening to podcasts and having the odd snack (although eating for me was limited, due to queasiness) - mostly fruit, yogurt (breakfast) and the starter for both lunch and dinner.
The Convergence (AKA The Polar Front) moves each year. It's where the cool waters of the South meet the warmer waters of the North but it affects not just temperature, but salinity and density too. This great mixing means that nutrients from the sea floor are brought up to the surface - making it a highly productive area. The only way you know when you cross this would be from the temperature readings of the ship (it's not any more rough that other areas of the Drake Passage). In summer, it can vary from the North being almost 8C while South of the convergence the water temperature could be around 3.9C.
Drake Passage "Drake Lake"
As stated on the Homeward Bound website homewardboundprojects.com.au/about/ "The project is supported by a world-leading global faculty who are experts in their various domains including a filmed faculty with contributors such
Dr Jane Goodall (primatologist and environmental campaigner);
Franny Armstrong (film maker behind ‘The Age of Stupid’, 100 most influential women);
Dr Sylvia Earle (global leading Marine Biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer);
Christiana Figueres (Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change);
Dr Amy Edmondson (Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School);
Dr Susan David (Co-Founder and Director of the Institute of Coaching, awarded speaker and coach, Harvard A-lister);
Clare Bowditch (award-winning Australian singer and activist);
Dr Robert Kaplan (developed Balanced Score Card strategy execution methodology);
and Valerie Taylor (shark expert, known for her conservation advocacy and films)."
This afternoon we had a video message recording from Dr Sylvia Earle. No other program is scheduled (planned this way in advance) due to the sailing conditions as even in good conditions, the crossing of the Drake Passage, plus the first 2 days at sea means that no-one is able to do much.