The Southern Ocean

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We departed Hobart with warnings of rough weather for the beginning of our voyage. Unfortunately, we were heading south directly into low pressure systems, which would be whipping up waves to over 10m. Not the ideal way to find our sea legs in the first few days. The first night was bumpy and combined with the new feeling of being on a rocking ship not much sleep occurred that night. The ship’s Captain made a decision to head directly south in order to avoid the worst of the predicted storms so while we had a bumpy ride over the first few days we came out relatively unscathed. We only had two days where the ocean was really high and those of us who were fortunate to not be feeling terribly sea sick were able to stand up on the Bridge and enjoy the roller coaster ride of the boat crashing through the waves.

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Some others did not fare so well and there were some faces that did not appear at any meals for a couple of days. I’m very glad I started taking my medication a day early, as I was spared the miserable sick feeling on the rough days and was able to function fairly normally. The first few days everyone took it particularly easy and progressively the mood on board increased with the increasing numbers of upright people. Our doctor was vigilant at visiting all the cabins with a bag full of pills and making sure that no one went without and all cases of sea sickness were attended to.

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In a few days we had tracked so far south that we passed the Antarctic Convergence. This is a region where the cold water (~1°C) from Antarctica meets the warmer water (~3°C) of the temperate region. Interestingly, these waters don’t mix well and it becomes like an invisible wall separating one another. It also can act as a barrier for some organisms, along with upwelling of nutrients in this region, which results in more wild life attracted to the area to feed. It was also the first time we saw precipitation in the form of snow. The snowy, foggy weather meant that we didn’t see much wildlife but we definitely felt like we were now in Antarctic waters.

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We were now incredibly far off course and needed to make up time from our large diversion. Once we hit 60° S we turned directly west and turned the engines up full so we could travel the remaining 2500 nautical miles to Davis Station. By this stage we were far enough south to miss most of the remaining bad weather.

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3 responses to “The Southern Ocean

  1. I would have been throwing those sea sickness pills down like lollies, I don’t think I could have handled it, you’re very brave. I’m wondering about washing and drying your hair and toilet stuff, will you cover that in a blog?

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