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Antarctica and Restless Soul of the Sea, Albatross

We made 15 nights voyage to Antarctica, started and ended in Punta Arena, Chile.

It takes 2 days each way to cross the Drake Passage. Drake is a body of water at the bottom of South America to northern part of Antarctic Peninsula. Crossing Drake isn’t fun. Some say it’s an unforgiving part of the sea, one of the roughest, like a laundry machine in the ocean mixing hot and cold from two directions.

There is an alternate way to explore Antarctica to avoid Drake, fly and cruise. Two hours flight can take you to Shetland Islands, from there you can board a ship and get straight into Antarctic Peninsula. I wanted to cross Drake by sea, it had to be part of Antarctic experience. Drake was feared by ancient sailors, but not any more. Modern ships are well equipped to avoid the worst weather.

We sailed in December, the best time to travel in Antarctica, warmest month and the sea tends to stay calm. Crossing Drake is always unpredictable, we had unforgettable night each ways crossing Drake. After taking all the preparations including sea sickness medication, Sarmin didn’t do very well, seasickness at it’s worse. For about 8 hours at night, the ship was moving up-down and hitting hard sidewise. There was a moment I told myself why did we signup for this? All night shifting noise, hitting water hard kept me up thinking what if this piece of metal goes down, I knew it was just fear. I knew the ship is an ice-class, and this isn’t their first voyage to south.I thought about taking some rough sea footage and videos, but couldn’t get up from the bed.

Other than one or two sleepless nights, crossing Drake is an amazing experience. Open endless blue ocean around, as far as eyes goes horizon is just a straight line separating blue from open to sky, mysterious fogs appears out of nowhere, and then you see one of the most magnificent sea bird.

Yes, Albatross. The restless souls of the sea, largest of all seabirds Their amazing life in the sea doesn’t fit to any others living on this planet. Longest wingspan up to 12 feet, they can fly thousand miles without a flap of their wings. The secret is body weight to wing ratio . Ask an aerospace engineer, they yet to learn aerodynamics from these birds. They can stay over the sea for 6 years without touching the land, live over 40 years. They only return to land for breeding, and likely to have a single partner throughout their life.

From Antarctic Peninsula we reached to Saunders Island in Falkland, Albatross nesting place. On the cliff rising from the sea, countless parents nursing newborns. I remember, I have seen them on TV, perhaps on National Geographic Channel. Now I am here, standing close to to their nests, listing but not knowing what they are sharing with each other. Wonder right in front of my eyes, life of Albatross taking place.

When I was in high school, there was a poem about Albatross, Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Th phrase “An albatross around one’s neck” describes a burden that a person must carry. Generally albatross were seen by sailors as sign of good luck. The story of poem- “The wind dies and the ship is stranded, the mariner blames the albatross and kills it. As the bad luck continues, the ship and crew blame their misfortunes on the mariner, for killing the albatross. The dead albatross is hung from the mariner’s neck to signify the mariner’s culpability in cursing the ship and crew.”

After 30 years from my high school, I have seen Albatross leading the ship I was onboard. I captured some moments with my lenses. I thought about my past, I wondered everything in life is connected. Every dots are connected.

If you wish to fly, be an Albatross


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