Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Voyage Begins

Surviving on only 2 hours sleep we only just made our 5.00am flight to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. I had little expectations of the ‘most southerly town in the world’, having heard that its primary function is to service tours to Antarctica but I was amazed at the spectacular scenery. Ushuaia is sandwiched between a glacial carved mountain range of jagged peaks and the famous Beagle channel where Darwin once sailed. Whilst many of the shops cater for the passing tourist trade there are also many artisan studios dotted throughout the town and it is easy to imagine it as a place that would inspire creativity.

At 4.00pm we saw, for the first time, the ship that we would be spending 10 days on, the Akademik Vavilov. Specifically designed to withstand the rigours of the Antarctic environment, the ‘ice-breaker’ nevertheless looked small and inconsequential moored alongside an elegant yacht said to be owned by Paul Allen, business partner of Bill Gates. Starting to panic slightly I tell myself that I didn’t come half way round the world for a luxury cruise but for adventure!

Once on board, we set sail quite quickly and the evening passed in a blur of food, safety talks, more food and a lifeboat drill (supposedly should the worst happen over 60 of us will have to squeeze into a capsule little bigger than a Hummer).

Back in our cabin we marvelled at how much space we had and how smooth the going has been so far. The motion sickness wristbands are in place, ginger tablets and Dramamine quaffed and our ‘tapping’ methods utilised. But I’m still nervous, especially after the dramatic groans that accompany the oft repeated words ‘The Drake Passage’. At the moment we are still in the relatively calm Beagle Channel but we will start our crossing of the infamous Drake Passage sometime in the middle of the night.

There are just 5 days to go until the marathon however I’ve decided to abandon any attempt at training on board ship. I am now officially on the ‘taper’ and will start my ‘carbo loading’ in earnest!

1 comment:

Robert Mann said...

Well done! Unbelievable effort especially in that climate (but as you are from Scotland I'm sure you'll have staggered back on many a Friday night in worse!!).

Loving the website pix, Antarctica looks fantastic up here at the other end of the earth. Hope the roller coaster ride back to South America isn't too rough.

Cheers and congrats.