March 16th, 2020

Post by Madelyn Hollister

We have sailed through the last bit of Drake Passage and this morning we woke up to the calm seas of the Beagle Channel. Anchored in the middle of the Ushuaia Harbor, we are surrounded by beautiful views of mountains and the colorful town of Ushuaia. Not a bad place to be quarantined for a week!

A brown skua


As we recovered from the Drake Passage and the 4-8 m swells of the Drake Shake, we spent some time out on the deck enjoying the views. Flying around the harbor were black-browed albatross, skuas, giant petrels, terns, and gulls.

The majority of our day consisted of homework, watching lectures, booking new flights, and contacting friends and family now that we are back in cell service. Unfortunately, we found out today that Canada is closing its borders to non-essential travel, which may or may not include people with study permits. We will be looking into this further, as it will likely impact where we travel to after the quarantine. Colin gathered us for a brief class meeting to give us some tips for the next week, including walking around the deck for exercise, continuing our daily journals, and staying positive and busy. Someone suggested the idea of giving our Keystone presentations on the boat since it is likely our last chance to present them to a live audience. Overall, our spirits are high and everyone is very supportive of each other’s needs. We are looking forward to the extra days on the boat with each other and with this wonderful community!

A view of Ushuaia from the anchored ship

The majority of our day consisted of homework, watching lectures, booking new flights, and contacting friends and family now that we are back in cell service. Unfortunately, we found out today that Canada is closing its borders to non-essential travel, which may or may not include people with study permits. We will be looking into this further, as it will likely impact where we travel to after the quarantine. Colin gathered us for a brief class meeting to give us some tips for the next week, including walking around the deck for exercise, continuing our daily journals, and staying positive and busy. Someone suggested the idea of giving our Keystone presentations on the boat since it is likely our last chance to present them to a live audience. Overall, our spirits are high and everyone is very supportive of each other’s needs. We are looking forward to the extra days on the boat with each other and with this wonderful community!

The class looking happy and healthy on the first day of quarantine

Jean, a Quark staff member and ornithologist, gave a lecture on birds, and later on, Finn hosted a workshop on Antarctic bird and mammal identification. Other activities on the ship during the day included board games, yoga, tea time, and a lecture on Ernest Shackleton.

This evening, the ship hosted a karaoke night. A ton of people came out for it, and it was a great relief from the stress of the last couple days. As a group, we sang Bohemian Rhapsody, and got up to dance for several other songs including Dancing Queen and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. It was lovely to see people having fun, dancing together, and making the most of our situation.