Near-disaster Dec. 6 & 7 when wild waves struck cruise ship in dangerous passage between Cape Horn & Antarctica
Surviving 'the Drake Shake': Riding out an Antarctic-cruise nightmare
...The Clelia was thrashing about in the high seas. The cresting waves smacked the vessel as if it were a shuttlecock. Then one wave leaped to the fifth deck and ripped away the handrail, flinging it against the pilot's compartment windshield.
It broke the window, and seawater roared into the compartment, knocking out our communications, including radar. In a matter of seconds we went "blind" in a raging storm hundreds of miles from shore.
The National Geographic Society Explorer, another nature-tour boat in the passage, responded to our distress signal...
For a couple of anxious hours, I feared that the ship would go down. Passengers were being thrown out of beds and flung across cabins. We were being rattled like dice in a casino. Other than bumps and bruises, however, there were no critical injuries.
A rescue at sea was out of the equation. There was no chance of lifeboats being launched in a sea so turbulent. And forget life jackets! Death from hypothermia was a given in these frigid waters.
The ship shrieked and moaned with the violent twisting as we were buffeted by winds gusting from 50 to 70 knots per hour, and waves three to four stories high.
The creaking created by the constant battering was the cry of a ship in pain. It sounded like a death rattle. I thought it was just a matter of time...