Crossing the Drake

At sea on the Drake Passage, bound for Antarctica. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Saturday, January 17, 2015
It was a wild night here onboard Hurtigruten’s FRAM, but the purpose-built expedition ship handled it well. Despite Beaufort Force 9 winds and some monstrous seas pounding down upon us throughout the night, the only sounds that could be heard in my stateroom forward on Deck 5 were those of my toiletries clanking around in the cupboards.

Not surprising given the extremely high winds outside last night and this morning! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Not surprising given the extremely high winds outside last night and this morning! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

In fact, upon hearing the weather forecast last evening, I secured anything that might slide around, from camera equipment to battery chargers. My laptop has rubberized pads, so it could stay seated on the desk in the room without it going anywhere. But preparation is key; you don’t want to have things break when they go bump in the night.

Simply moving around the ship proved to be difficult this morning. This was taken on Deck 4, looking aft toward the Dining Room. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Simply moving around the ship proved to be difficult this morning. This was taken on Deck 4, looking aft toward the Dining Room. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Since the forecast was…unpleasant, I elected to put on Seabands – little wrist bands with a pressure point that have helped with seasickness in the past. They worked. With the exception of trying to move about the ship and in the room at night and during the early morning, I really haven’t felt uncomfortable at all. Crashing around in the ship’s corridors – now that’s another story. But, as the old saying goes, keep “one hand for your drink, one hand for the ship.”

The FRAM is, however, a gorgeous ship - even in rough weather. This is the Deck 7 landing of the main staircase. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The FRAM is, however, a gorgeous ship – even in rough weather. This is the Deck 7 landing of the main staircase. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Not everyone is in the same boat, so to speak: so common are rough seas in this region that every stateroom, corridor and elevator lobby is outfitted with the dreaded “white bags.” And without going into detail, they’ve been well used. But – this is the Drake Passage. I came into this cruise, as did most people I’ve spoken to, with the knowledge that the first two days could be a little touch-and-go weather-wise.
Unfortunately for those who don’t have their sea legs just yet, there’s a lot of housekeeping duties going on today for the Expedition Staff here onboard the FRAM – and they all involve guests.

Preparing for Antarctica: guests were all issued with their bright-blue (and complimentary) jackets this morning. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Preparing for Antarctica: guests were all issued with their bright-blue (and complimentary) jackets this morning. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Today at 09:00, guests could proceed to Deck 2 when their Zodiac Group was called over the public address system to be outfitted with their bright-blue Expedition Jackets. Emblazoned with the Hurtigruten branding, these jackets are very cool – and not nearly as big and bulky as you might expect. But they

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