The Drake Passage and Antarctica

Hola Dear Readers:

It has been a long hiatus and I’m hoping that this finds you well.  And if you are in the States, I hope you are recovering from a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I have grown accustomed to cold weather for Thanksgiving, but not like what I experienced over these last few days.

In what will be the last installment of this journey journal, I’m afraid that I will once again come up well short in my attempts to capture the feeling and magnitude of the adventure. Fortunately, I have about a zillion megabytes in the form of pictures that will help shed some light on the experience.

Welcome to the Drake

The Drake Passage is a violent, turbulent, and unrelenting funnel. It is an oceanic epicenter, where waters meet to battle for supremacy, with no regard for those that are in the way or on the surface. I suppose the lure of it is different for everyone, but for me it centered on the explorers and sailors that conquered the Drake and Cape Horn long before success was backed up by immersion suits and enclosed lifeboats. Even today there are no guarantees for success. But back in the day, it was far from a certainty that all would be well. I cannot come to terms with what those sailors and explorers accomplished.

And while those that go to the Drake do so for different reasons, I imagine that we each come away with a defining aspect that will stick with us for all our days. For some it will be the swells or perhaps the calm and splendor of Antarctica after the passage. Maybe it’s the wildlife.


For me, it is the gray of the sea.

When the sun is shining, the Southern Ocean is a majestic blue and in stark contrast to the icebergs and islands that dot the horizon.

But the sun does not always shine. And when the clouds cover and the winds whip around, the gray sea challenges those that sit upon it. You cannot be bigger, or tougher, or meaner than the gray sea. You can only hope that it grants you some level of mercy.

My little friends

  • If you venture south, you may not see whales or seals, but you will see penguins. They are a wonderfully engaging lot, with a very quiet and steadfast resilience. It’s a real show to watch them figure out who is going in the water first. Hungry seals are always around.


  • As big as a city block…DSC_0839

Clouds like nowhere else. DSC_0944





  • These guys were not quite as active as the penguins. Ya, it’s snooze time.


2 thoughts on “The Drake Passage and Antarctica

  1. Happy Thanksgiving Matt and thanks for sharing your journey. I feel like I’m there with you. The solitude must be amazing. Love from the other Keith Hill Road gal.

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