As “FRAM”(Froward, Danish) slid out of the port of Ushuaia, sailing east and then south along Beagle Channel, the land gradually disappeared from sight. The expedition team leader Tessa announced that FRAM will be entering the Drake Passage in about 4 hours. This 40 plus hours crossing is the shortest route from South America to Antarctica.
德雷克海峽這片水域，從地理上講，它隔開了南美洲與南極洲，貫通了大西洋與太平洋；從生物學上講，這片營養豐富的海域是很多種海洋生物與海鳥的天堂；在探險家和旅行者日誌裡，它是真實版的“Rock with You”（邁克傑克遜的歌）；在西班牙的文化裡，這個重要的航道叫作The Mar de Hoces（荷塞西海），不是所謂的德雷克海峽（The Drake Passage），因為西班牙的歷史記載著航海家Francisco de Hoces 先於英國私掠船長Francis Drake發現了南美大陸南端的這片水域。
Geographically, the waters of Drake Passge separates South America and Antarctica while connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Biologically,the Passage is heaven of marine wildlife as being one of the most nutritious zone on the planet. In their log of sailing, explorers and travelers describe it as the place giving real experience of “Rock with You” (Michael Jackson’s song).However, in Spanish literature, this important passage is named The Mar de Hoces, instead of so-called“the Drake Passage”, because Spanish history recorded Spanish sailor Francisco de Hoces preceded English privateer Francis Drake in referring this open water area to the south of South American continent.
Sweet Moment in “the Devil Passage”
“The Devil Passage” does have sweet moments. In summer, cold waters of melting ice from Antarctica meet with warmer waters here, creating upwelling nutrients in deep waters which makes this sea area is one of the most nutritious zone on the planet. Thanks to the foodchains, marine species are pleasantly wealth and diverse.
The sea gently waves under blue sky; flocks of albatross soar over the boat. If luck would have it, humpback whales play around the boat back and forth, enjoying cheers and screamings from people on the deck. The Drake Passage, at this moment, like a kid rivaling for attention, delivers pleasant surprise one after another.
Fortunately, we did have such wonderful times with the Drack Passage, the humpback whales and the albatrosses in our voyage.
Cold air in the belt of 40°~ 50°south latitude blows from west to east unimpededly and thus forms Antarctica Circumpolar Current （alternatively known as “West Wind Drift”）, which carries huge volume of water equivalent to 600 times the flow of Amazon River. Moreover,Drake Passage is the narrowest area that the Antarctica Circumpolar Current runs through, that’s why the reputed roughest passage in the world.
Following the experience of the sunshine and calm Drake Passage, we finally did not miss its bursting of passionate nature.
When I filmed the video below on the deck, 8-meters-high wave with 10-levels-wind shook the boat so drastically that I had to sat on the deck and filmed between the handrails. The boat was thrown up and down like a wave.
A sailor rushed to the deck and called me back to cabin. I knew that the expedition boat was equipped with the state of the art stabilizers to absorb swaying, GPS, weather forecast system and experienced expedition team so there is no such thing as dangerousness except to throw myself into the experience of the Drake Shake and somewhat seasick.
Achievements of civilization enable human beings to know the nature better, but this is only valuable when respect to nature instead of desire of conquers grows. As Tessa always said: “In Antarctica, it's really ice, wind, wave and fog dependent.”