Antarctica - Drake Passage - Lake or Shake or ORCAS

You never know what you’ll get with the Drake Passage on your way to Antarctica.
This late March sailing the sea was very kind to us – Drake “Lake” they call it. The ocean was flat calm with perfect conditions for spotting wildlife in the water. The voyage just before ours had been treated to Drake “shake” with 99 knot winds – making it a true Drake experience. One of my clients onboard actually complained that’s what he’d paid for - so where was the wind?
Even with no wind to speak of we were treated to the large sea birds both Royale and Wandering Albatross gliding around the ship throughout the day.  They came in so close to the ship you could see the pink patch on the side of the Wandering Albatross heads. It is said that the Albatross holds the soul of a fallen sailor - maybe that’s why we had such good luck.
Back in the office, Chuck was monitoring the Global Marine Vessel Tracking Website. “Why is the ship suddenly going only 3 knots in the Drake,” he wondered? He called the owner of the shipping company to find out.  Nothing was wrong - they had no reports of problems with the ship.
Orca surfacing
There in the middle of the Drake Passage with land a day’s sail away in all directions our ship encountered a pod of about 30 orcas feeding. We slowed and spent 45 minutes with them as they dove and porpoised around the ship. There was a heated debate on the bridge between the expedition staff about which of the three species we were watching.  Every inch of the outside decks were lined with passengers with their cameras at the ready.  You could hear the collective oh’s and ah’s as a whale’s back broke the surface of the water. Finally, the ship turned leaving the orcas to continue their meal. The white continent beckoned, and we were excited to view its majestic scenery with its penguins, seals, and sculpted icebergs.

Orca Up Close