At 6:20 am today Xplore passed Cape Horn, 70 hours after leaving Eta Island, Antarctica. A moonlight night had brought up the famous headland, which grew in size as a clear dawn revealed the mass on which sits the lighthouse, warning and welcoming passing seafarers. This photo shows an unusually benign passage. Soon the sea will be a turmoil of breaking crests on a high swell as the forecast deep low pressure with attendant strong winds rolls in from the west. We did not tarry, turning the ship north east for the entrance to the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia and home.
For each of the seven of us making up the crew the particular reasons for being here, our backgrounds, life stories and ages- George with 85 years of wisdom and Debbi at 23 just starting on life’s voyage- may be very different,but we have come together to share the experiences of voyaging to, and within, Antarctica and its sights, wildlife and challenges. We reached Detaille Island at 67 degrees south and some swam in 3 degrees at 65 degrees south. We saw calms, blue skies and warm sun …but also 50 knots of wind , bitter cold and saw ice forming on the surface of the sea around us.
Pride of place goes to the whales, seals, penguins, antarctic tern, albatross, skuas and many more, and to the stark and rugged beauty of the ice and rock mountains and the sounds of Antarctica itself. Men do not own the earth; we share it. In this white world we were visitors, tolerated but required to recognize the remoteness and innate harshness of the land. We discussed many subjects and learned many things about each other, having moments of shared humour and achievement but also some of tension, as is natural within a group.
We will move on richer for our shared experience and full of memories – and with many photos- of our time together beyond the deep south in Antarctica. Hopefully, we will be a little wiser, too.
The photographs of our voyage shown on the site were taken by Richard Laronde, Ellen Loopstra, Julien Hodges and Richard Tolkien, who also wrote the words describing our 26 day voyage.
Our thanks go to Stephen Wilkins , who showed us Antarctica and carried the responsibility of command, assisted by Debbi.