R/V Polar Duke Farewell Tribute
in the Laboratory for Microbial Oceanography


The Drake Passage Storm
Vernon Asper
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).