After Cabo Frio the sea cooled to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the ocean swells lengthened and the fin of the port stabilizer got stuck. We pinned it in neutral and Whale Song continued with the starboard fin happily dampening the roll. A day later, at anchor at Ilha de São Sebastião, we found the problem - a loose setscrew on a potentiometer. The last week of November, in the Argentine port of Mar del Plata, we chased down carpenters to make heavy plywood emergency shutters - just in case the pilothouse windows got punched in south of Cape Horn. We felt the ship was as ready as possible.
Every mile southward sea life became more plentiful. With the Falkland Islands just thickening the horizon, the wind began whistling from the north. Birds soared: mollymawks (albatrosses), big petrels, the pintados - Antarctic petrels, Cape petrels, tiny Wilson’s petrels, royal albatrosses, imperial shags, terns. In the clear sea, black and white Commerson’s dolphins raced the bow and gentoo penguins porpoised at high speed. The winds howled through the islands, and we were lucky to anchor in Port Stanley over three days of good weather, a rarity on this incongruous mote of Britishness in the Southern Ocean. There we saw elephant seals and sea lions at the shore while cows and sheep grazed on the meadows above. Genetically isolated wildlife has made the Falklands a Galápagos of the Southern Ocean. On New Island, the kingdom of Ian Strange and the home of artists Kim and Tony Chaters, we sat among breeding rockhopper penguins and black-browed albatrosses (bigger than overfed geese). I turned around at a deliberate flap, flap sound behind - an albatross marching by only inches away. A predatory skua snatched an egg in its beak. Another swooped down, and the two fought, the forgotten egg crushed and seeping yolk.