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Cruising Cape Horn and Drake Passage Trip Journal

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February 14, Cruising Cape Horn and Drake Passage

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We will spend the next few days on board the ship. Today, we sailed the Drake Passage and past Cape Horn. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is the Antarctica experience. We’re quite excited.

We received a list of regulations from the Captain about protecting the environment of Antarctica while we are traveling through here. We totally agree with most of them, such as not feeding birds and other wildlife, not throwing anything overboard, making loud noises or littering. However, the one that amused us was “Do not fish or crab from the ship”. Sure, we brought fishing poles and crab traps packed in our luggage….(not)Can you envision this: John yelling, “Chris, hurry, bring a net, I’ve got a Humpback Whale on the hook”.

I’m not sure what the smokers are going to do. One of the other regulations is “no smoking by crew and guests is allowed on open decks, including verandahs”. I think the only place then for smoking may be the casino and one of the bars.

We reached Cape Horn around 7am, then headed south across Drake Passage toward Anvers Island, which is where the Palmer research station is located in Antarctica. Cape Horn is 1,300 miles further south than the Cape of Good Hope. It’s the point of convergence between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

Cape Horn is one of the most dangerous shipping passages in the world, due to the extreme southern latitude and the geography of the passage itself. The prevailing winds can blow from west to east, as there is no land to interrupt them. Going around Cape Horn requires ships to be south of 56 south latitude. The winds can cause huge waves. When the waves then meet up with the shallow waters south of the Horn, they become shorter, steeper and even more dangerous. We were fortunate that we had an absolutely perfect, beautiful day. Our on-board expert said in all his years of traveling through this area, he has never experienced such good sailing weather.

We learned that this ship, the Prinsendam, was hit by a “rogue” wave in February of 2007 during a 66-day world cruise while in the Antarctic. It happened just after it rounded Cape Horn. The Prinsendam encountered hurricane-force winds. Then two rogue waves, about 40 feet high, struck the ship. Reports said that 40 people were injured, lots of broken dishes and other items. Fortunately, we have not experienced that type of weather.

Tomorrow around noon, we should arrive at Palmer Station on Anvers Island in Antarctica. Prior to arrival, we’ve been advised we may see some Humpback whales and other wildlife.

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John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on June 16, 2020.