Antarctica Travel - Scotia Sea and Drake Passage

Our trip was a "triangle", going East from Ushuaia to the Falkland and South Georgia Islands, SW to Antarctica, and the North back to Ushuaia. According to the Ships Log, we covered 3,488 nautical miles in the Ocean Nova, So that is a lot of time at sea, and yes, it gets boring at times.

However, in addition to lots of water, there was quite a bit of wildlife that followed us for large distances, an occasional whale and other sea creatures, and as we ventured South, plenty of icebergs that often had penguins on 'em. There was also numerous on-board lectures and good food & company, plus I worked on my Antarctica photography techniques and edited pictures ... so I was pleasantly surprised how fast the open sea cruising went.

Finally, it can get rough (the Drake Passage has some legendary weather) but it never got super nasty on us. I only got sick once (the first morning) and had semi-decent sea-legs after that. Taking Ginger tablets seemed to help, although I felt woozy the last few days due to rough seas and a cold.

Antarctica Trip - Day 2 - Cruising from Ushuaia to Falkland Islands on the Scotia Sea

After departing the previous evening, we cruised East (and slightly North) on the Scotia Sea toward the Falklands with mild seas & gorgeous weather.

Conrad and passengers bird watching from the Aft Deck

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The birds enjoyed "drafting" behind the ship

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This Giant Antarctica Petrel seemed a bit lonely - mouseover image for close-up

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Another solo flyer - mouseover image for close-up

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This bird flew almost right underneath me

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Flying in formation over the choppy Scotia Sea

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That afternoon, we got fitted for our Wellington Boots - Andy assisting Kyle

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Carol says the "Wellies" were good for walking through water, Penguin Poop, and everything else!

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Bronwyn demonstrates the proper way to wear your life vest & gear ... in contrast to Andy! ;-)

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After a day of cruising on the Scotia Sea, we arrived at the Falkland Islands and our first landing was at aptly named West Point Island.

Antarctica Trip - Day 5 & 6 - Cruising from Falkland Islands to South Georgia on the Scotia Sea

After a wonderful two days in the Falklands, we departed Port Stanley and continued East but turned (guess which direction!) toward South Georgia.

A Southern Right whale goes cruising near the ship

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Southern Right Whale shows its Fluke in the Scotia Sea

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Animated Southern Right Whale

Pawan smiles on the Aft Deck with the Sun setting behind him on the Scotia Sea

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A close-up of his sunglasses (brightened up a bit) shows other passengers onboard! ;-)

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After these two days of cruising on the Scotia Sea, we arrived at the South Georgia Islands and the first stop was Elsehul, South Georgia.

Antarctica Trip - Day 11, 12, & 13 - Cruising from South Georgia to Antarctica on the Drake Passage

After a glorious four days in South Georgia, we left Cooper Bay and headed Southwest toward Antarctica. Since this is the "hypotenuse" of our triangular sea voyage, it was the longest distance on the open seas via the infamous Drake Passage ... but fortunately, we had a fairly smooth ride.

The South Orkney Islands are solitary specks of land on the way down and we made a brief stop there

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Needless to say, we saw more and more icebergs the further South we traveled

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Penguins hanging out on an iceberg near Signy Island, South Orkneys

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A wave comes over the Ocean Nova's bow in the Scotia Sea - mouseover to see Chief Officer Popescu Bogdan ("George") at the helm

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We skirted a two mile long iceberg as seen on the radar screen - mouseover image to see close-up

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I was able to get a tour below deck of the inner workings of the Ocean Nova - watch video

Scotia Sea Ocean Nova below decks

The kitchen of the Ocean Nova - mouseover image to see close-up

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My fellow passengers were glad to hear the all-important sewage system was showing Green Light status! ;-)

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The weather picked up a bit as the sun went down

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Sunset at 2119 on Feb 4th in the Scotia Sea - mouseover image to see 3 minutes later

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After these three days of cruising on the Scotia Sea, we arrived at the Peninsula for a glorious Antarctic Sunrise.

Antarctica Trip - Day 16, 17, 18, & 19 - Cruising from Antarctica back to Ushuaia on the Drake Passage

After a three marvelous days in Antarctica, we left Port Charcot and headed North back to Ushuaia and civilization. While we had been fortunate to have relatively calm seas coming down from South Georgia, the Drake Passage now showed some of its fury as we got bounced around a bit plus there was a lot of rolling action due to decent size swells. But it wasn't that bad as they didn't have to run hand-holding ropes inside the ship for people to move about nor were the windows boarded up ... which happened to my wife 10 years ago ... and she was pregnant! So while I felt ill, it was more due to a cold than the ship motion.

Most people caught up on sleep (after all the 5:30AM Zodiac runs) so except for meals, the ship was pretty quiet. I started going through the almost 10,000 (!) pictures I took on the trip plus some other great ones taken by my fellow passengers to prepare a slide show for the last evening. As we entered the Beagle Channel late in the afternoon on Feb 9th (Day 18), the water calmed down and everyone's spirits picked up. We had an enjoyable last dinner and then re-capped the incredible adventure in the Panoramic Lounge. I finally went to bed at 2:00AM ... even though there would be a wake-up 4 hours later when we docked at Ushuaia and returned back to land. Although that didn't seem that stable as I felt a slight back-n-forth sway back on land for the next 48 hours or so after 19 days at sea! ;-)

The last passenger off the last Zodiac signs in - me!

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One of several piles of Wellington Boots - the wooden "boot remover" (back left) worked great

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Looking back at the Zodiac gangway as everything is stowed away

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This was posted nearby ... glad we never needed it ... but I bet the next Ocean Nova trip did! ;-)

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Several photos stitched together for a very wide-angle Antarctica panorama - click here for larger version

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Last view of Antarctica - mouseover image for view without the ship in it

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Expedition Leader Conrad (with his sister Heidi) finally gets to relax after a most excellent trip

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Alek going through pictures early morning on Feb 8th despite not feeling too well - more due a cold than the rough seas

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Feb 9th: Kyle, James, and Paul enjoy the last evening

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I gave the slide show the last night onboard the Ocean Nova - mouseover image for other picture

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It felt good to be back on land after 19 days at sea!

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