The Drakes Passage, as it is fondly known, is the body of water between Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands. It can be a bit rough and volatile at times, especially when there is rain approaching. Mornings are unusual in Antarctica as it was always daytime there. A captain’s call bell would wake me up every morning. It would blare into my ears and then the captain of the ship would make his announcement. Sometimes, it was about a particular area or a place that we were crossing. At times, he would announce that he had just spotted a blue whale.
Drakes Passage was especially choppy. At nights, the entire cabin would shake. I had decided to miss the gala captain’s dinner. The reason was that I arrived at the dinner in my jeans and t-shirt. I was obviously not attired for the occasion and soon was asked to go back and dress up. But I couldn’t be bothered “Arrey yaar, I am the creative type. Everything is excused for us.” I told the Q Experiences travel girl who tried her best not to embarrass me. Yes, Rati was very polite but I got the message. So I walked all the way back to my cabin still hungry with no dinner. Rati called up and enquired why I was not on the dinner table. I made some excuse and ordered a burger. I just ate half of the beef burger and as I reached out for the sauce, the entire cabin started to shake. Yes, it was the Drake Storm and it was coming to get us.
The cruise became a bit unsteady as I tried to close my eyes and pray to the heavens. The ship and the table in my cabin started shaking violently. Yes, sir, these were the choppy waters of the mighty Drakes Passage. It was as if nature was letting us know. The entire tray started to vibrate and my beef burger fell on the cabin carpet in front of my very eyes. So much for the captain’s dinner. I was now left to scrape the dog’s breakfast from the carpet. That was a rough night and I barely got any sleep. I was hoping at that time for someone to put the brake on Drakes.
Next morning was calm seas as we walked on the Shetland Islands and saw Shackleton’s Hut. My gloves came in handy as it was cold and I would often slip on ice or get my leg stuck in the snow. But never did I use a walking stick in Antarctica. I trekked on my own effort. I guess it speaks of my fitness even though I am a cigarette smoker. It was here in the Drakes that I first spotted some blue whales. The captain got excited as usual as we slowed down to take a finer look at the beast with its jet black fins rearing up in the air.