If you have a TikTok account, chances are that, lately, you have ended up on North Sea/Drake’s Passage TikTok. These videos feature the most massive waves you have ever seen crashing over boats in the middle of the ocean, accompanied by that eerie, infamous tune.
You are nowhere near either of these bodies of water. But by the end of the video, you’re grateful for being on dry land.
Even if you had no intention of traveling the ocean before, now you definitely don’t want to. Let’s be clear, you will likely never travel through Drake’s Passage. But here you are, wanting to know more about this seemingly dangerous part of the ocean. So, I’m going to tell you about it.
Where Is Drake’s Passage Crossing?
Drake’s Passage is the body of water between the southernmost tip of South America (specifically Tierra del Fuego) and the Antarctic Peninsula. This passage gets its namesake from the English sea captain Sir Francis Drake. It’s a unique point where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet.
So why on earth do people sail through it? I hear you asking.
For adventurous souls embarking on an Antarctica cruise or expedition, crossing the Drake is a rite of passage. It is the only sea route to get to Antarctica, making it an unavoidable passage for ships. Unless you travel to Antarctica by plane, this is the only way to get there.
The passage is notorious for its rough seas, but it also holds a lot of historical significance. Willem Schouten first navigated this route in 1616. Since then, it has been on the bucket lists of many a sailor and cruise ship-goers with a death wish.
Despite its daunting reputation, the lure of crossing the Drake’s passage is irresistible to many. For many, enduring this journey is the first step towards seeing one of the most remote and pristine regions of the planet. For some, it is worth it, but do you really want to find out?
Is Drake’s Passage Dangerous?
Now, onto the question that’s been making waves online. Is Drake’s Passage actually dangerous? The short answer: yes, it can be. Here’s why:
Drake’s Passage Waves
Crossing Drake’s Passage means that you can see some massive waves. This is where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans converge. That, combined with strong winds known as the “Roaring Forties” means that waves can reach up to 40 feet in height!
This passage is infamous for its rapidly changing weather conditions. One moment you’re enjoying a calm, sunny day. Days like these are referred to as “The Drake Lake” because the seas are so calm.
Next, you’re facing gale-force winds, blinding snowstorms, and rough seas. This is known as “The Drake Shake”. The unpredictability makes it a challenging route for even the most experienced sailors.
Motion and Sea Sickness
Due to the rough seas, motion sickness is a common issue among travelers. The average depth of the passage, combined with turbulent waters, creates conditions ripe for the ‘Drake Quake’. Even the hardiest of sea legs might wobble.
So, if you’re planning to cross the Drake, pack your motion sickness tablets, bands, pieces of ginger, etc. It takes about 48 hours to sail through Drake’s Passage, so anything you can think of to prevent motion sickness, do it.