Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Let's start again

As we arrived at the FRAM, the sun was shining and the winds were only a bit of breeze. These weather conditions are on the rare side in Ushuaia as the sun commonly only peeks through the clouds between rain squalls and the winds are often quite strong.

On-board we turned in our passports to the ships purser and then we were assigned our cabins and registered in the ships computer system. Now we can lock our wallets with our driver’s licenses, our money and our credit cards in our room safes. Captain Arvid and his bridge officers will take care of the driving and our card opens the door to our cabins and we can even shop at the ships store as the trip progresses.

Before leaving the dock in Ushuaia we attended the mandatory safety drill, where we learned the location of our lifeboat stations. After the drill we were underway for Antarctica with Ushuaia fading astern and the Beagle Channel welcoming as the FRAM headed east. The green hills and mountains bordering the Channel gave is a clear view of the tree-line as at our present southern latitude the tree-line is a clear demarcation with the southern beech trees below and only grasses and stunted shrubs above.

Out channel transit was highlighted by the accompaniment of a small pod of dolphins. Dolphins are common in the channel but these particular dolphins were species that is rarely sighted. Our biologists viewed our photographer, Dominic’s images and agreed the dolphins were Right Whale Dolphins, albeitly this is a confusing name but that is the identification of our bow wave friends.

Just after the dolphins departed we passed Puerto Williams. This collection of homes and villages is Chilean and is regarded by the Chileans as the southernmost town or village in South America. The Chileans and the Argentinians spar over the terminology and as far as the Argentinians are concerned, Ushuaia is the southernmost town in South America and Ushuaia is at best a village or military town.

 Dinner followed and after that we all gathered in the observation lounge for our welcoming by Captain Arvid and his staff. The evening closed our Expedition Leader, Karin Strand, giving us a head-up on tomorrows activities as we proceed south across Drake Passage toward our rendezvous with Antarctica.