Posts filed under ‘Antarctica – Western’


Congratulations to young Jessica Watson on her achievement – what a wonderful ambassador for her generation, for Australia and for all Australians.  Well done Jess!

Headbutting the Southern Ocean

I too, have wrestled with the Southern Ocean, however it was not exactly a high point in my life.

My introduction to Cape Horn, along with another 40 or so passengers, including my 23 year old son, was aboard that sturdy little vessel – the “Polar Pioneer”.  Whilst sailing smoothly down the Beagle Channel and with the bravado of a fair-weather sailor, I made some intemperate remarks about rounding the Horn, to my new shipmates.  I stated that my disappointment would be profound and the fares deserving of refund, if it did not live up to its reputation.

At 1.00 the next morning, all hell broke loose.  The ship rolled violently and I was hurled to one end of my bunk, returning headfirst and at high speed, as it rolled the other way.  Then there was the infamous “corkscrew”, when the pitching and rotating “Pioneer” tried to turn itself inside out and me with it, as I clung to all that I valued.  The nightmare lasted forever.

Meanwhile - below decks

My stomach eventually decided that it had had enough.  Rolling out of my bunk, I crawled along the floor and into the toilet, where I grimly embraced the porcelain.  Describing what followed would only upset you – suffice to say, that I had a second look at my dinner of the previous night, plus a few other bits and pieces.  What dignity remained after this performance, was irretrievably shredded, when the toilet light was turned on and my son stood in the doorway.  Full credit to him, in that he succeeded in controlling his composure, when others would have howled with laughter, at the scene with which he was confronted.

With sea legs abandoned, I took to my bunk for a day or two and slowly recovered.  There was one brief  setback when we were being fitted with the gumboots for going ashore.  The lady next to me, waiting her turn, asked if she could borrow my boot and I handed it to her.  She promptly threw up in it and then offered to return it.  Whilst respecting her generosity, I insisted that she retain ownership.

The multi-functional gumboot

I could now see that what had begun as a simple cruise, was to be a voyage of self-discovery.

Three weeks later and in reflecting on the sea journey we had undertaken,  I could but admire those who had, so many generations before, braved this Great Southern Ocean and those who have followed – those like young Jessica Watson.


May 17, 2010 at 2:44 PM 6 comments


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