November 19, 2006
(Note: Internet access aboard the RV Yuzhmorgeologiya is limited; Bill is sending his log entries back to Oregon Sea Grant in batches for posting here)
Sunday dawned with bright skies and a brisk breeze. As much as we enjoyed the ambiance of Punta Arenas, I was eager to be back on board of the RV Yuzhmorgeologiya. By 10:00 we had transferred personal belongings to our cabins and I set about re-acquainting myself with the ship. She has acquired a fresh coat of paint and the name on the bow was now scribed with Russian lettering. Surprisingly, navigating the maze of corridors and stairs below decks was quickly relearned.
We left the ship as loading of equipment and supplies from the quay continued. RV Yuzhmorgeologiya is re-supplying the Korean base in Antarctica. In preparation of crossing the usually treacherous Drake’s Passage, large tanks of propane and other compressed gasses were secured to the deck. Many other stores and supplies were lowered by crane into the Yuzhmorgeologiya’s hold. We took this opportunity for one last meal ashore to enjoy fresh Chilean cuisine. As Internet connections are unreliable from the Southern Sea, this was also my last prospect for posting logs and images until we reach the Korean base in Antarctica.
Moving a 300-foot vessel from the dock required two tugboats and the coordination of many men on deck. Light lines were tossed up from the tugboats to the Yuzhmorgeologiya. These were tied to heavy hawsers, which were brought onboard and secured to large cleats on our port side. As the Yuzhmorgeologiya employed her bow thruster full abeam, the tugs churned astern, slowly overcoming the inertia of our large vessel. With creaking hawsers, we were pulled safely away from the quay, and then gently pushed in the direction of the open ocean.
We are steaming tonight through relatively protected waters to the Straits of Magellen, and anticipate reaching the passage separating South America and Antarctica sometime in the early morning. Tidal currents in the region where we are currently traveling can reach up to 18 knots. A low-pressure system to the west is moving towards us with winds projected between 20 and 30 knots. We have secured all of our research equipment and personal belongings. Though I don’t usually suffer the effects of motion sickness, wearing a seasickness patch seems prudent in this situation.
(Photos: Loading the Yuzhmorgeologiya; Steaming out of Punta Arenas)