The Drake Passage

In Antarctica, Travel by David31 Comments

To say that it takes some time to get to Antarctica is an understatement. After 20 hours in the air and a couple days in Ushuaia, we boarded the Quark Expeditions vessel, Ocean Nova. Then for 48 hours we sailed south. You’ve never seen so many people wearing sea sickness patches behind their ears, nor so much fleece and Goretex. As it is we lost a good chunk of the nearly 70 passengers to sea-sickness, brought on by high winds and huge rolling waves. I mostly slept like a baby, and though I found walking around the ship a little challenging, I’m not sure it was really any harder for me than others.

It’s Friday, Dec 02, 3pm as I write this, and we’re fixing to load the zodiacs and land in the Aitcho Islands tonight to meet some penguins. Before that we’ve an hour of bio-security to go through, to prevent contamination of the environment with foreign species of grasses and bugs. I’m super-impressed with the folks running this, both the staff and crew from Quark Expeditions as well as Seth Resnick and John Paul Caponigro. These are the good guys and I’m thrilled to be spending time with them.

Internet’s not cheap onboard, but obviously we’ve got access; I think I paid $140 for 100MB of data. Once we get through the Drake I’ll be spending my time shooting and have no intention of ruining my new-found sense of remoteness with much time spent online, but at least this way I can drop you a postcard once in a while, and in a small sense take you along on this journey with me instead of just reporting condensed and vague impressions when I get home.

10:30pm. We’ve cleared the Drake now, and the photograph above (I hope it looks OK, images don’t load so well from here…) comes from moments after returning from our first landing. It’s an amazing thing to wander among thousands of pairs of chinstrap penguins who’ve never learned to fear humankind. Humbling. Beautiful. And the zodiacs? Bumping through the antarctic waters in high wind and waves is a blast. I’m now back in my cabin, downloading images and drinking a celebratory whisky – tonight I hobbled onto my 7th continent.  I’m a happy man tonight.

If you’ve not already seen it, or got your hands on it, don’t forget to download the free ebook from Craft & Vision. You can get more information on that HERE, and if you get a chance I’d be grateful if you told others about it as well. Cheers!


  1. Way to go David! To think that you are traipsing around Antarctica and not that many months ago you were being medivac’d home after your accident, not knowing what if you’d walk again. Congrats, my friend. A real accomplishment. Takes a lot of courage and determination. Enjoy every well-deserved moment of your adventure. All the best!

  2. Ah, wish I were there… (though even just reading about high winds and huge rolling waves makes me kind of sea-sick 🙂 ) Thanks for doing these postcards for us. Have a great time, enjoy and soak it all up!

  3. Awesome +David Duchemin! (heheh, that’s a G+ way of talking) tahks so much for taking us along on this trip, a most amazing trip your on indeed. and the shot looks incredible!

  4. How wonderful! You make us all dream with your photos and your words. I’ll raise a glass to you tonight, David!

  5. I would definitely be one with TWO patches behind my ears! I can’t do ships… I can barely do planes… w/ear patches.
    Stay warm, have a great time, stay safe and thanks soooo much for the download!

  6. So great to hear about your adventures here on the blog! I will continue to follow you here for updates on your trip. The e-book is fantastic; thanks much!

  7. Fantastic, Its amazing to follow your adventures with your camera, there’s a new title for you, I really appreciate that you are able to keep us informed of your journey to the Antarctic, Incredible, Keep going and thank you for the e-book.

  8. Wonderful, David. After the scare you had, going for it trying to cram as much in as possible is the way to go. Looking forward to your (and our) rewards ;-).

  9. Way to go, David! Thanks for sharing some of the adventure. Really enjoyed reading and looking forward to hearing more of your dispatches. All the best for a great time and safe return. Cheers from Chicago, where it’s chilly but not Drake Passage chilly… -Matt

  10. I can’t wait to see your photos and read about your adventures. I downloaded the e-book… I love it.. thank you so much, it is just what I need.

  11. “I’m now back in my cabin, downloading images and drinking a celebratory whisky – tonight I hobbled onto my 7th continent. I’m a happy man tonight.”

    That sentence or two right there made me cry. So, so very happy for you, David. You’ve endured much and have worked hard for this. Revel in it.

    Thanks for bringing us with you.

  12. Beautiful photograph David! Thank you for making the time to share it with everyone. It must be quite a rush being in the company of the penguins!!

    The free e-book is wonderful; lots of great advice. Thank you for this as well!

    Happy and safe travels.

  13. It makes me smile that you have achieved another life goal! I am smiling for you also. Cheers!

  14. I went to Antarctica with Quark in 2006. Top notch outfit. I’m very jealous that you’re there. Enjoy the magic and wonder. And thanks for the updates when they can come… and for the free e-book.

  15. David, being of an age that when I was traveling Europe in my 20’s and to phone home to Vancouver it was a HUGE deal – I am astounded that you have Internet and can keep in touch. Your blogs are very interesting and I am so happy that you are off doing what you love again. We all benefit by your sharing with us. Keep safe.

  16. Simple but effective image, cold and warm at the same time.
    Wonderful description, a modern photographic Amundsen journey.
    Have fun with the penguins =)

  17. This is truly cool — so much better than waiting until you get back “to see the slides”.

    And thanks for the free e-book.

  18. Absolutely Wonderful Experience and Thank You for Sharing it with all of us!

  19. I’m a terrible sailor, so the rough seas don’t sound good to me, but the rest sounds fantastic. Enjoy, and thanks for the update.

  20. Thank you for continuously inspiring to walk the unpaved path and to keeping the fire going…

    eBook is absolutely amazing.. and even being FREE has a lot of amazing advice… The whole chapter on stages in photography and creating projects is just amazing…

    Thank you for keeping us inspired.

  21. amazing… although our world seems soooo small at times your journey emphasizes its vastness too…. thanks for sharing with us…

  22. This just sounds awesome. And, to think that you are doing it in Summer. Imagine how bitter it must be in the winter.

    As always, looking forward to more pics and updates, when you can.

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