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Drake Shake or Drake Lake, that is the question!

When the Polaris Expedition Ship Captain announced we were leaving Ushuaia and heading southeast as fast as possible to avoid the advancing purple spots on the area’s wind map (below), we popped on our motion sickness wrist bands and prepared for a bumpy ride.



The Drake Passage is famous for having unpredictable and ever-changing weather patterns. The passage lies between South America and Antarctica at the convergence of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. This means that currents, waves, and weather patterns generated by each of those great oceans come together at the Drake Passage and can produce very turbulent seas with intense winds, rainfall, and seasonal sea ice. When that happens the high waves and strong winds cause a very bumpy ride for any ships in the area. This is called the Drake Shake. At other times the winds can be calm, the waves settle down, and the sailing is easy – that is called the Drake Lake. We were hoping for the “lake”, but when we looked at the wind map we saw a very high wind area moving our way (purple or red color). Current meteorological tools can’t change the weather, but they can influence the decision a ship Captain makes about which route should be taken to avoid the stormy areas.


So far, we’ve experienced more lake than shake – thankfully! Below are two pictures taken from a part of the Polaris Expedition Ship known as The Hide.






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Jon Faulkner
Jon Faulkner
Feb 05, 2023

Loving the blog. I try to imagine what sailors hundreds of years ago experienced when sailing this passage. It must have been terrifying. Can't wait for Antarctica,

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Nancy Sedgwick
Nancy Sedgwick
Feb 06, 2023
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So true. There is a lot of respect here for those early pioneers.

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Guest
Feb 01, 2023

Yikes. Hoping you got the Lake and not the Shake. Have fun… Kth

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Nancy Sedgwick
Nancy Sedgwick
Feb 06, 2023
Replying to

It wasn’t too bad. Weather has been great the last few days!

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