Crossing the Drake

The sea rolls our ship
As we transit ‘tween lands and years
Crossing Drake Passage

Each day I write a #HomewardBound #haiku, trying to capture, in those brief, structured lines, something of the transformative journey we are on. Today is New Year’s Day; overnight we have travelled from Argentina into the Drake Passage, we have crossed from 2018 to 2019, and we have moved into the next phase of our Homeward Bound journey; the extraordinary opportunity to explore our leadership, in Antarctica.

As I write this, the ship is rolling, hard. A strong south-easterly is blowing a three to four metre swell, and the Drake is not a lake today. Some of us are feeling the effects of that, and grateful for this quiet phase of the program; it is time to focus on crossing the Drake and keeping well. Those of us who are up and about are taking the opportunity to have quiet cups of tea and gentle conversations with new companions; already this morning I have learned about living in Alaska, the molecular structure of cheese, and insect biosecurity… As we chat, we watch Giant Petrels and juvenile Albatross soaring alongside us; my heart swells as they lift in the wind, dip towards the sea, swoop upwards and away. Just glorious.

This quiet, resting phase is a marked contrast to yesterday’s excitement as we left Ushuaia. Our departure saw a sea of red and grey Homeward Bound jackets on the dock at Ushuaia, the unfurling of a massive celebratory Homeward Bound banner, curious tourists asking us what on earth is going on, and a film crew capturing our whoops of joy as we boarded the ship. There was a palpable, almost euphoric ripple of “this is really it; we are going to Antarctica!”. And now here we are: 80 women with a science background, building our leadership skills, growing an extraordinary global network, to grow the voices of women in policy and decision making in matters that affect our planet. The shared values here, around making a difference, with authenticity, courage and kindness, are powerful, uplifting and give me an enormous sense of optimism. As I watch the seabirds soar, my heart lifts; for them and us.