Speed 12.4 knots
    Course 226°
    Location Straits of Magellan (-53.07429833, -70.698715)

    Sorry for my absence the last couple days. The ship turned into a ghost town as we crossed the Drake PassageStrait, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans between Tierra del Fuego and the South Shetland Islands. Located about 100 mi (160 km) north of the Antarctic Peninsula, it is 600 mi (1,000 km) wide. and everyone curled up in their bunks to deal with being tossed around by the rough sea.

    Sometime this evening, we will be arriving back in Punta Arenas, Chile. It has been an amazing time and I feel so lucky to have been a part of this cruise. Some of you were able to watch the PolarConnect event (it’s archived on the PolarTREC website if you haven’t seen it yet). My students and I were able to discuss what I’ve been doing and a reporter came out and interviewed my class from the (San Francisco Examiner) [http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/education/2012/04/sf-teachers-polar-trip-explores-cool-science]. Check out the story and see what my students think about the trip. I’ve learned so much, but I miss my students and I’m ready to go back to teaching.

    Engine Room

    Before all that happens, I want to show you a rarely seen part of the boat. Yesterday, the engineers took us on a behind the scenes tour of the Engine Room. This room is beneath main deck and the sea level outside the boat comes to about Richard’s waist in the photo below.

    Engine room tour
    Richard Johnson giving us a tour of the Engine Room

    There are four engines on the boat and they are paired. In open water, two engines are usually used at a time, but when the ship is breaking ice, all four engines are used to generate more power. These engines spin massive propellers that make the boat go forward.


    The engines are connected to generators that provide power for the ship.


    There are also boilers that are used to heat the main outside deck so it doesn’t freeze over. You can see the boiler and the patterns it makes on the deck below.

    Jackie Mueller showing off one of the boat's boilers

    Heaters on the main deck
    Heaters on the main deck

    Along with a lot of the students on the boat, I’ll be flying out on Saturday and getting home on Sunday. I can’t believe the end is almost here, but I sure am ready for a long walk after being cooped up on this boat for so long.

    Straits of Magellan
    Weather Summary
    Windy and warm
    Wind Speed
    Wind Chill