Welcome! Thank you for joining me, Sharon K. Schafer, on my journey to one of the most remote, beautiful, and truly wild places left on our planet: The Antarctic. I am an artist and naturalist from Nevada, USA who will be photographing, sketching, and journaling my experiences in Antarctica for two weeks in November 2007.

06 November 2007

Ushuaia, Argentina: Anticipating The Drake Passage

TIME: 19:00

I spent another day in preparation. Practiced my talks and checked my gear and repacked again. Once on board the ship, there will be no opportunity to drop by the nearest REI for a pair of gloves.

I also ran by the neighborhood grocery story for some bread and water to get me across the Drake. "The Drake." That's a simple word that can strike of bit of fear in me. The Drake or more correctly the Drake's Passage is the little body of water from South America's Cape Horn to the South Shetland Islands of the Antarctic Peninsula. It was named after Sir Francis Drake although he had enough brains to avoid it altogether and sneak around the horn via the Straights of Magellan.

The good news is that the 500-mile crossing is the shortest distance between South America and Antarctica. The bad news is that it is considered the roughest water in the world. There is no significant land anywhere in the world at that latitude. The circumpolar current can really race around with no land to block it. It lies between about 56 and 60 degrees south latitude. It's not uncommon to have 40-foot seas and hurricane force winds there. Sailors feared this area and said, "below 40 degrees there is no law, below 50 degrees there is no God." Sailors also dubbed this area the "furious fifties" and the "shrieking sixties."

The really good news is that I know what lies on the other side. I will put up with some discomfort to visit the magnificent Antarctic Peninsula and its incredible wealth of wildlife.
I can't wait