The wait is over

25 Jan

This morning’s weather forecast gave us the long awaited break in strong winds and big seas for which we have been waiting, so we will be heading for the Antarctic Peninsula across the infamous Drake Passage tomorrow. For those not familiar with this part of the world, the Southern Ocean is the only part of the planet where weather systems can travel round the globe completely uninterrupted by major land masses; typically this allows a series of storms to scurry round one after the other through the ‘Furious Fifties’ and ‘Screaming Sixties’. The Drake Passage is the relatively narrow and shallow gap between the southern tip of South America and the northern end of the Antarctic Peninsula, where the winds get squeezed through and the seas mount up, giving it its ferocious reputation. It is for this reason that we have been waiting for a suitable period of relative calm before heading out on our adventure! We now have excellent conditions in which to make our 3 – 4 day passage to the South Shetland Islands, where we’ll pause to consider our best course towards the Peninsula and Elephant Island.

The day has therefore been spent making our final preparations for our departure. Composing our messages to Patrons, sponsors and families and friends; topping up water tanks; collecting our final load of victuals; transferring frozen food from ashore to onboard; putting on the final washing loads; cleaning through the boat; securing our cabins for sea and putting away our ‘shore clothes’ kept us busy for much of the day. We still found time for some fun with our various photograph poses for our sponsors, which ensured everyone had a chance to look up from their tasks and recognise that there is still an enjoyable aspect to our adventure. The tragic death of Henry Worsley, so close to completing the trek across the Antarctic continent that Shackleton had been aiming to do a century ago gave us all a stark reminder that the region is a place to visit with great caution and our thoughts are very much with his family and friends. Thankfully our forthcoming adventure is not such an extreme challenge, but will undoubtedly be thoroughly worthwhile for all of us taking part.

I’ll close this blog with some messages of thanks to all our supporters – Patrons, sponsors, friends and families. If it wasn’t for that support, we would not be on the verge of completing what will be a most extraordinary journey for all of us. Personally this represents the culmination of 4½ years of preparation and development, joined 18 months ago by a great team that has brought this dream to a reality. We will be able to share our journey with you through regular blogs and occasional photos and hope that you enjoy them as much as us.