Clellia II in Drake’s Passage
Written by: Paul Motter
Every time we see an incident such as the Clellia II losing an engine in a horrible storm in Drake’s Passage we hear the comments like “you’d never get me on a cruise ship.”
I just want to point out that in my article about the two Polar Regions online I do warn people that these voyages can involve rough waters at times. That was an extremely bad storm, but not entirely unexpected for that area of water, Drake’s passage.
That is the tip of South America – the passage that is known for being so rough even the captain of the Bounty could make it. Part of the story of Mutiny on the Bounty is that Captain Bligh tried that passage four times before he gave up and went the long way around Africa.
If you want to go to Antarctica you almost have to go through Drake’s Passage. There are now fly options where you can fly to Elephant’s Island and catch the ship three days later. but it costs a few extra thousand dollars per person.
Furthermore – if you are going to Antarctica you will most likely be on a boat that size (that’s right, a boat – it is hard to call that a ship). The reason is the Antarctic Tour Operators Assn has urged the ruling body not to allow groups of passengers larger than 99 people to land within the Antarctic circle. Furthermore, ships that burn bunker fuel (99% of average cruise ships) are also not allowed in the region.
So – I am only telling you so you know that such high seas are unusual, but they can happen, and that you are far more likely to be affected by them on a small ship – which is just about the only choice you have if you go down there.
I don’t want to discourage anyone from wanting to see this beautiful part of the world, I just want you to be properly prepared for the reality of the situation. Do have your seasickness medication ready. Keep in mind waters that extreme are very unusual, but they are also not impossible.
The truth is that there are just far more video cameras in the world now than ever before in history – plus we have YouTube where anyone can post a video. The fact is that things like this have been happening every few years or so on Antarctica cruises for decades, we just rarely got a chance to see it in such detail in the past.
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Posted: December 10th, 2010 under Paul Motter.