Friday, 24 February 2012

Extra added attractions!

Overnight the ocean swells increased and by breakfast time the Fram was rolling gently in swells up to 7m or 22ft in height. The swells and wind were coming from behind the ship and served to push us northward as we motored across the northern half of the Drake Passage.

Diego Ramirez Island
Photo by Anke Timmerberg
  The first major benefit of our speedier passage was that Captain Andreasson was able to steer the Fram on a close approach to the island named in honor of Diego Ramirez. Ramirez was the navigator on the 1618 to 1619 Spanish expedition that was sent to map the coastline and seafloor off southern South America. The island is a large rookery that contains Black-browed and Grey-headed albatrosses plus Giant Petrels and Cormorants. The penguin “family” is well represented by macaroni and rock-hopper penguins.
Cape Horn
Photo by Anke Timmerberg

Our good fortune continued as in the early evening we passed by Cape Horn. This fabled cape was first rounded by the Dutch captains Schouten and LeMaire in 1616. The original name was Kaap Hoorn as Hoorn was the home city of one of the captains. The name was modified over the years and the cape itself became the major landmark of accomplishment for ocean going sailors. Those who rounded Cape Horn were entitled to wear a single gold earring.

With Cape Horn in the background we all gathered in the Observation Lounge where the Captain led us in a farewell salute and wishes for a safe journey homeward. This was followed by the charity auction of the Captains master chart of our voyage showing the ships track and our landing spots. The winning bid was by a man whose grandfather and his grandfather were both sea captains. Both of these old seafarers never rounded Cape Horn but now their grandson and great-grandson has rounded Cape Horn and has the chart to prove it and to pass on to his children. 

As the evening sun on the Cape was obscured by rain showers we continued eastward toward the entrance to Beagle Channel and at 0200 we will pick up our Argentine pilot who will insure that we are at the dock in Ushuaia in time for tomorrow’s tours and our flight to Buenos Aires.