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The 9th of February

Somehow the land always comes as a surprise. We know it is here, it has been known for 200 years by now, and even before that, before it had ever been seen it was known. Antarctica is the only continent that was postulated to exists long before it was ever sighted. Off course there had to be land in the South, the Greek said, how else could our earth be balanced, it would clearly tumble over if there was not an equal amount of land in the South, as the known land in the North!   But still, sailing the Drake in a rhythm of watches, meals and lectures with small sleeps during the day and being awake parts of the night – for a while nothing else existed. No land. The world had become 56 meter long – with a population of 55 and a weather forecast that only mentions wind. Such were the days on the Drake. They have given us a bit off everything – calm seas to start with, some smooth sailing, followed by a day of headwinds with some proper pitching, finishing with full on sailing, reaching a short moment of 10.9 knots and an average of 8.

In the late afternoon of Thursday the 8th we made our entrance between George island and Robert island. For a moment all was calm – land was sighted, penguins were porpoising along and sails were taken down and furled. We had arrived! As we passed Robert Island however, conditions were, just as Janke had predicted the night before, very Drake like. Sometimes we call the Bransfield strait the mini Drake, today this name was very appropriate. We are slowly pitching our way against the wind – engines full on – reaching a speed of close to 3 knots as we are heading straight into the strong south westerlies, in our mind the hopefully calmer waters close to Yankee harbour are waiting. Pitching yes, but what an entrance! As the sun slowly sets, taking the time it takes in the polar regions, the almost full moon rises over the glaciers of Robert island, appearing and disappearing behind a thick ribbon of clouds. All sails are furled, Janke has taken over the steering, seawatches are finished for now. Tonight we will all have a full night of sleep,  tomorrow we might step on land. It will all depend on the wind …

(As these last sentences are being written down, the wind reaches 50 knots. We turn. Will look for shelter between Robert island and Greenwich island. See if it calms down towards the morning. It will definitely all depend on the wind) 

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