Homeward Bound Departure Day Is Here!
We’ll say good-bye to Ushuaia later today, as we depart for the Antarctic Peninsula and 20 days of adventure and learning. The excitement level is through the roof after last night’s departure dinner. For me, meeting the women of Homeward Bound this week has been the culmination of 18 months of conference calls, Skype sessions, homework assignments, diagnostic testing, emails, Slack notifications, Facebook posts, presentations, and a whole lot of fundraising.
Last night we met the faculty, including Fabian, who I’ve known only through video conferences and phone calls all these months! Her inspiration to develop this exciting leadership and strategic initiative has been really amazing to me! All of the HB women got their expedition jackets, on loan to us from a generous donation from the clothing company Kathmandu. Stocking hats, backpacks, waterbottles… all such fabulous donations to our group. Sam, one of the participants, also made a small metal charm in the shape of Antarctica and had an OX (part of our branding) engraved on each charm. Support comes in many ways, and so many bits and pieces of this expedition would not be possible without the support of so many.
Personally, I thought a lot about how many people…friends and family members and even people I didn’t know, have supported me in fundraising and with many aspects of this program. THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I am so every grateful for this support. My husband, Chris, has been my biggest supporter… always encouraging me to follow my dreams, keep learning, and to go out and make a difference.
Our ship, named the Ushuaia after the town/port, is now in the harbor waiting for us! Built in 1970 at the American Shipbuilding Yard in Toledo, Ohio the Ushuaia is a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel, now owned by the tourist company Antarpply.
The ship is 278.3 feet long and 15.41 feet wide. The maximum speed is 14 knots, but cruising speed is about 12 knots. The knot (abbreviated kn) is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile (about 1.852 km) per hour, which is approximately 1.151 miles per hour.
(Photo courtesy of Antarpply’s website)
There are three decks that Homeward Bound will be using, two of which are cabins we will bunk in, and the main deck which has the dining room, galley (kitchen) observation lounge/lecture room/bar/and library. There is also a panorama deck in the front of the Ushuaia. The ship can have 88 passengers, and the crew and staff number 38. There are 7 zodiacs, and we’ll be using those for field trips. Stay tuned for photographs of the various decks of the ship, our cabins, and life on board.
We will be making our way today through the Beagle Channel, named after the ship HMS Beagle. The HMS Beagle surveyed the coasts of the southern part of South America from 1826-1830. Charles Darwin sailed on the Beagle in 1833 and noted the beautiful blue color of the glaciers in this area. The Beagle Channel, the Straits of Magellan to the north, and the Drake Passage to the south are the three navigable passages around the southern-most tip of South America between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Most commercial ships use the Drake Passage, open-ocean. We will also be going through the Drake Passage, and it is this part of the journey that worries me the most! Many, many times people are quite seasick when their ships pass through the Drake Passage. I have many remedies with me, and I’m hoping that one or all of them work! I’ll be sure to take plenty of photos to let you see whether we have a wild ride or Drake Lake (calm seas) along the way. And remember, we have to come BACK through the Drake Passage on our return to Ushuaia 20 days from now. Yikes!
Our destinations include islands, scientific research stations, and the land of the Antarctic Peninsula. I’ve circled what will be our general location, but I’ll provide plenty of information as we reach each specific location/stop along the way.
Map from: https://images.search.yahoo.com
The Antarctic Peninsula is the northernmost part of Antarctica and lies about 620 miles away from Tierra del Fuego (Spanish for “land of fire”), the southernmost tip of South America, across the Drake Passage. It’s the biggest peninsula of the continent, extending about 800 miles. The Peninsula is covered by a grounded ice sheet, and beneath that ice is a string of bedrock islands. The islands are separated by deep channels. Many scientific research stations are located on the Antarctic Peninsula, due in part to the milder climate compared with other parts of the continent. Argentina currently has the most bases and personnel in this region. In addition, most tourist ships depart for the Antarctic Peninsula from the port city of Ushuaia…where we are also departing from today.
I will not be able to post any blogs while we are on the expedition, due to bandwidth limitations on the ship, but rest assured, I will be blogging every day. I’ll post all of them at once, when we return to Ushuaia on the 21st of December. For now, check the Homeward Bound Community Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/homewardboundprojects/ because I do believe we will be able to send short updates. I might be able to post quick bits of text on my own Facebook page, I’m just not sure yet. I will have plenty of photographs, tales of adventure, and lots of information for you in my blogs! Bon Voyage! Stay tuned!