Day 11: The Drake Shake

I’ve never slept in a dryer, but I imagine the night before was a taste of what it was like. The boat rocked. The boat rolled. And our bodies would bump back and forth all over the little cabin beds. I think my head actually ran into the headboard/wall at one point – so not the easiest sleep but I’m thankful we the trip had lasted this long without nightmare swells like this.

Obviously our fellow passengers hadn’t fared well because breakfast – usually packed with people – was a small affair. Of course we also had no landings to rush to so there wasn’t much reason to get out of bed, so it was hard to say which (sleeping in or sea sickness) was the cause for the the dirth of seats.

The boat rolled like crazy. We were a bit early for breakfast so we decided to take a seat in one of the reading nooks, but then we realized the boat crew had roped all the chairs together so they wouldn’t fly all over the place. They remained that way for the rest of the day since the Drake Shake would be with us constantly.

Where is everyone?
Hell Served for Breakfast – Chris Gilbert Lecture
The morning started with storytime – my favorite lecture – and Gilbo started it out by reciting the poem The Quitter by Robert Service about endurance and continuing on and “hell served for breakfast”. Then he told the story of the Ross Sea Party, the second of the ships of Shackelton’s Adventure. Most people don’t hear this story since Shackelton and the crew of the Endurance usually take the spotlight, but the Ross Sea Party had extremely rough circumstances on the south-western end of the continent.

Gilbo and the Ross Sea Party
He had some book recommendations which I think I’ll read since I so enjoyed the Endurance story:
Bickel’s books: In Search of Frank Hurley; Mawson’s Will; Shackelton’s Forgotten Men
Kelly Tyler-Lewis: The Lost Men

Taking In All the Culture
I spent some time out on the deck to see if I could spot any birds or anything, but since it was grey and cloudy and no one else was out save for one or two people on the bridge.

Rough waters
I was looking off into the distance when I saw two blows shoot from the water. Whales. Two of them! And there was no one near me to share the sighting.

I told one of the men on the bridge, because then they could tell the GAP crew and then they can determine if it’s worth an announcement to the rest of the boat. Heidi came out with her binoculars and identified them as fin whales, which is terribly exciting since fin whales are almost as big as blue whales. But they were so far away and the boat was moving so quickly that it wasn’t worth the announcement, so the whales were only shared by me, Heidi, and Jurg from Germany. Still a great spotting.

Fin whales, captured by Mindy when she went outside a short while later (pic by Mindy)
Shannon’s Sex Talk
Shannon gave a lecture called “You know you’ve been wondering…” about the mating habits and cycles of seals and whales. Pretty interesting, and not just when you hear that the testis of a blue whale weigh about 2 ton each. Yikes.

Knocked Up
Following that topic we went into the lounge to watch the movie “Knocked Up”, which I think was funny but I fell asleep halfway through.

Movie watchers: Louise, Don, Shannon, and Ital
Antarctica Treaty
Steven, Gilbo, and Dolder gave a lecture about the politics of the Antarctic Treaty, how tourism actually helps police the activities around policies, and some of the mis-behaved practices. We also discussed that mining is almost inevitable though it won’t happen until technology catches up. This trip was nothing if not educational and eye-opening.

During the treaty lecture I noticed a patch of sunlight flipping back and forth on the wall of the lecture hall – which meant (a) it was sunny outside (a notable change to the sky), and (b) the sun was setting. The moment the lecture was over many of us rushed to throw on our parkas and went outside for photos.

Beginning of the sunset

More gorgeous colors

Mindy in the sunlight

Shannon taking photos

Heidi and Shannon in the sunlight (pic by Mindy)


There was a rare sooty albatross flying around the boat that caused quite a bit of photographer excitement. My little Canon didn’t do it justice, but the sunset was lovely so that must count for something.

Just for giggles, I’m posting my pictures compared to Mindy and Shannon’s super cameras the Canon G9:

Pic by Heidi (It’s a bird. Really.)

Pic by Mindy

Pic by Shannon

I have total camera envy.