Early 5 AM, we wake up to a quick breakfast and bus trip to the domestic airport for our flight down the coast to Ushuaia. The weather was mild and sunny on the way down until we reach our destination. It is cooler and cloudy. Upon arrival we are bused down to Parque National Tierra Del Fuego in which the highway dead ends at the tip South America. Here we walk through a forest area to the water’s edge and jump on a catamaran for lunch and deposit at the dock where our ship, Explorer, awaits.
Parked in front of the Explorer is a Hurtigerten boat preparing for it Antarctica departure. Our crew is ready to go at 5 when we arrive and we are whisked to our cabin where our luggage was earlier deposited. Our parkas are in the room and the other rental gear, boots, poles, wind pants, are waiting for us downstairs in the mud room. The ship is well appointed and quite comfortable. It is staffed with plenty of naturalists, photographers, doctors, every one you need for a well planned down-under excursion.
A visit to the open bridge introduces us to the technology and the paper maps that are still used to make this journey. Every plan is made with the weather in mind – so it is projected to be a calm Drake’s passage.
Our departure is delayed for someone’s missing luggage; however, we leave at around 10:30 pm to calm seas and light winds. It is still daylight when we go to bed at 11.