2 days to port! We have managed to make our way through the screaming 60's, furious 50's and are working our way through the roaring 40's latitudes. I now know why they are considered the perhaps roughest seas on earth. As I write this we are 90 nautical miles south of the 200 mile International waters boundary of Australia, speeding away at 10 knots. The last few days have been the roughest so far in terms of weather and waves. Wind speeds were sustained at 70+ knots with waves 40+ ft. It made for quite a ride. Meals as an example had to be altered as it was very hard for the cooks to prepare anything. More than once a dish that took Mike, Marcella and Lorenzo hours to get ready ended up crashing to the floor.
Our constant companions
The Southern Ocean from the galley port hole
If you didn't secure your gear it was likely to have met with the same fate.I am thankful to say the seas are less angry and all is good. Of course we were inside the skin of the ship and other than some folks with a queasy stomach we were fine. Technology is amazing. Speaking of amazing I have to talk a little about sea birds, more specifically, Petrels and Albatrosses. These engineering marvels of nature were with us most of our transit to and from Antarctica. Even during the last few days they were effortlessly riding the high winds just above the waves. There wings shape (aspect ratio) make them perfectly adapted for life 1000's of miles from land.
A Southern Antarctic Petrel
Occasionally they skim the surface of the ocean for krill and small fish pretty much spending their time flying. Only a few times did I observe them floating in the water. It was hard not to be impressed as they flew in the 50+ knot winds dipping below the massive waves, and then reappearing again.
There are several species of Petrels and Albatross inhabiting the Southern Oceans. They breed and raise their young on specific islands in the region. Their primary diet consists of krill, fish and squid. It often takes some of them a long time to take off from the water, but once in flight they are a treat to watch.
As our cruise winds down and we head back to land I will miss these birds. They are a far cry from their subsidized distant cousins that inhabit a dump or fast food restaurant parking lot. They are truly wild.