R/V Polar Duke Farewell Tribute
in the Laboratory for Microbial Oceanography
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The Drake Passage Storm
University of Southern Mississippi
Everyone who travels to the Antarctic Peninsula by vessel must first transit the infamous DRAKE PASSAGE. I have and I did -- but just barely. Before deployment in September 1989, I had been warned of the massive waves and unkindly seas that one might encounter in Drake Passage. However, our southbound voyage was relatively calm and even enjoyable...."Lake Drake," as we say. I began to think that most of the horror stories that I had heard about this region were simply exaggerations -- nothing could really be that bad, or could it? Well, it did not take long for me to find out. A few weeks later, on our return trip to Punta Arenas after a short, but successful sediment deployment leg, we ran into one of the legendary Drake Passage storms. The intensity of the seas are still talked about today and our September 1989 northbound journey stands as one of the roughest on record during the 13-year Polar Duke charter. The estimated wave heights were >20-25 m (that's meters!) .....in any case, a picture or two is worth a thousand words so I will leave you with a bridge-eye view of the fury of the Drake (photos).