Antarctica Tour: The Drake Passage

By Jim Danzenbaker and Ann Nightingale

23 January 2012


The Drake Passage -- Crossing the 500-mile expanse of ocean between the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and Cape Horn is no bargain for those susceptible to "mal de mer." (Image sourced online at:

Ann's View: According to our leaders, we are making a trip through moderate waters—only five to seven meter swells and winds of about 30 knots. Despite being medicated, today was the roughest for me seasickness-wise. After a couple of attempts to attend lectures and drawing class in the morning, I headed to bed for good at about 11:30 a.m.  

Our cabin is near the bow of the ship, on the passenger level nearest the water. Our portholes don’t open for good reason. Every couple of minutes a wave washes over them. The strangest sensation that I have experienced on this trip is the ebbing and flowing of my own flesh while trying to remain still in bed. Gravity, centrifugal and centripetal forces work on all objects not attached firmly to the ship. Sometimes the wave action is enough to pull and push me up and down the sheets; other times, I stay put, but the forces attempt a massage, pulling the muscle and fat to and fro with each pitch and roll. As we rise over a swell and crash down into the trough, a loud bang makes me think that we must have hit something solid, but in fact it’s just the cold hard water of the Drake Passage. Keeping my eyes closed or covered is a must; the sway of the curtains is enough to make me queasy. The doctor has given me some new drugs, but I still haven’t found the right elixir for me. At 8 p.m., I asked for something to put me to sleep, which she did. I had a good night’s sleep.

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