Soul Travel to the Last Wilderness on Earth, Day 2 – Part 4
Day 2 – 28th February 2018
It was the last day of my favorite month of the year. Day before night was long and this day was supposed to start early, as this was the day when we were to embark on the journey to the most pristine place on earth.
Waking up to the view like this was starting to experience heavenly beauty and really untouched from many of us.
We got our luggage checked and got it tagged which clearly mentioned our name, cabin number on the ship and most importantly the Climate Force logo! After the selection letter, that tag held a lot of importance for each one of us. We were about to be a part of the small team standing united for the biggest concern of the world- Climate Change.
The fellow participants shared their experiences in the field of sustainability at personal and corporate level. The session went on till early afternoon.
Then was the time to move from the hill top resort in Ushuaia to the Port of the city. A port with its own importance. A port which is the last part of land and the starting point of water body till Antarctica, the frozen land. The journey from the “End of the World” to “The Last Wilderness on Earth” was an epic of its own kind.
Status of last few minutes while we were in the resort-
- Connected to Internet – updating our wellbeing to our loved ones on social media
- Making phone calls- some on phone network and some on wi fi connectivity
Most of the times when you are leaving a place, what/whom you won’t be connected at other place makes you remember those people and those things more. And then we were all charged
- Some of us checking our camera, SD Cards, battery
- Time to check clothing was over in the morning, so now we were left with our own check. Were we ready? We asked in our minds.
We reached the city and had lunch. Around 2 pm we were to walk to the port. But before that I decided to do something I have now for the rest of my life. Just outside the post was a tourism office, where Ushuaia and Antarctica Stamps were available. I got my passport stamped with both on this day I was to board the ship. Two of the best stamps on my passport. One of Ushuaia, end of the world and Antarctica, THE seventh continent. It felt accomplished before the journey started.
We walked in the port area and this was the best ship I witnessed. What a made up, it was! Simply beautiful. I wondered about the days that Robert Swan started his journey for the first time to Antarctica on an ordinary ship. I wondered about so any sailors who have been to Antarctica on old traditional scientifically made yacht, which successfully sailed through the Oceans, and roaring waves and fate of some couldn’t support and the sailors lost their lives.
Just 100 meters away was parked our house for the next two weeks. The name of it was ‘Ocean Endeavour’. This was giant, bulky, and bold. Ideally it was to be called a Cruise! Yet we were told to call it a vessel, or simply a ship or a boat, since we were on an expedition and not on a luxury travel. Considering the sea conditions, that ship was the least safety vessel which was required to keep us safe for the temperature and splashing water when the ocean was to be our land for the coming days.
It was the very first time when I was to step on the ship of that large a size. It was the very first time for me that I was to know if at all I was okay with sea survival or would sea sickness affect me. It was the very first time that I was standing with the people from 20 countries for one mission and with the similar energy in each one of us. Five months of hard and smart work was deeply felt at that point. Each sleepless night seemed worth it.
We got good 40 minutes to look around the port and checkout each ship of different shape and size and then was a time to get a group picture clicked.
In a flurry of excitement we started boarding the ship. Out passports were submitted while we boarded on Ocean Endeavour. We got settled in our respective cabins. Cabin was an interesting part. Mine was a twin Porthole cabin, which means this cabin was at the lowest floor of the ship. It had a hole through which the outside view was visible. During the days when we were passing through high level of water those round shaped window was supposed to be shut. Any guesses why? That’s so because the cabin in which we were in were literally below the water level.
Trust me, the next few days the bumps which we faced are really unforgettable.
There was a speaker in each cabin, through which we use to hear the announcements of each activity and follow the instructions to gather during any activity or emergency. Just post settling, an announcement was made to come over to the back deck, since we were about to start the most awaited journey to the Antarctica. It was exciting for us for obvious reason. For the ship crew the excitement was high since it was the last journey of the year to the Antarctic.
It was an emotional and almost ineffable state to be in that moment and being a part of a Global team where we all had waited for months to bid goodbye to the end of the world, end of civilized place, to the hills, to the greenery, to the internet, we are addicted to, to everything close to us. It was the moment of detachment with everything which means everything. It was the moment of pride, delight and gratitude for being able to make up to that time to stand with Robert Swan and Barney Swan – The living legends and polar explorers. It was no less than an honor to be on a journey led by them.
Video Link- Embarking to journey to Antarctica from Ushuaia, Southern Most City of the World
We started an hour before the departure time due to weather conditions – to outrun a storm that was surging down the Western side of South America. Post this ceremony of beginning the journey we gathered in the lounge to get briefed about all possible safety measures. Generally we all live in risk, as they say anything can happen any moment. Here we all knew we were getting into a riskier situation. We were getting into a literal unknown path of the ocean, far away from any kind of civilization, yet we were positive, looking forward and excited.
Safety measures, followed by evacuation drills, explanation of weather expected and dos and don’ts were told to us by Ship Crew Leader Solan. And then it was time to feel the ship. We were to pass through the Beagle Channel.
I started thinking about those stormy dark clouds which I saw in the morning, followed by sunshine which looked menacing. Ocean swells were expected to be 15 meters overnight. It was Time to “Drake Proof” the cabin by closing all doors, securing all electronics, and holding on for the ride. We knew we had turned the horn by the wind speed alone. Soon the swells would be growing in size as we continued to head towards an open ocean sail.
Post dinner, which was the first dinner for all of us together, I went up the deck. It was a dark night, though the moon was there. The dense clouds, came over the moon like a thick curtain, it came over the moon like a shadow of fate and took away the shine. But even in those circumstances, the moon shined and the one who had to witness its light and beauty saw it. For there was an array of light which was falling on the water and was making the ocean shine.
That was the time when we were about to cross the Beagle Channel. (About – Beagle Channel) . Crossing Beagle Channel meant that after that point we would be seeing only ocean and after days ,Ice. When I walked up, someone was playing mouth organ and was making the very first night on the ship super musical. I switched on the torch light and found that it was Afaq, Bruno our friend joined as an audience. Though I am not a great singer yet Afaq and I paired where he played the music and I sang a lot of songs (from Pal Pal dil ke pass to Lag ja gale se).
The ocean was calm that night. Many surprises, unexpected experiences, exploration of minds of people and most importantly of self was waiting for us. Tomorrow morning only we were to hit the Drake Passage, rather the passage was to hit our ship. It was One day of sail before we saw the first Iceberg and 2 days before we saw Antarctic region.