11th November 2018 – at sea all day

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I felt no urgency to wake and arise today, so stayed dozing. This is the first of two days at sea while we cross the windy waters between South Georgia Island and the Antarctic peninsula (the TV information board in my cabin tells me we are sailing in 69 knot winds between 56 and 57 degrees Latitude).  Today I will have time to complete the write up of the entire four-day crossing from Montevideo to South Georgia Island and the days spent discovering tiny parts of South Georgia Island.  Last night we remembered it would be Remembrance Day today – this morning I realised Australian blog readers would have remembered this date 14 hours ago.

A team of 20 or so Cape Petrels with their black white marked backs and upper wings, are flying/gliding beside my cabin, accompanied by a sole Blue Petrel with the stretched W from the tip of one wing across the back and reaching the tip of the other wing.IMG_4152.JPG

IMG_4166.JPGHaving a cuppa and considering attending the Pilates class in 10 minutes.  Nah. Maybe tomorrow.

The lecture by Dale Evans (born on the Falklands Islands) in English, on seals in the Southern Ocean was terrifically informative. Later in the morning I attended the lecture in French on seals by Elsa Freschet; this complemented the earlier one. I could understand some of what she said, and I could certainly translate most of what was written on the projected slides.  The lecture theatre is usually too warm and seems to lack a flush of fresh air so that I left that lecture before it was over and had a queasy lie down and nap. Woke in time for a late lunch.  Joined Ian and Judy also eating late.

A piece de resistance which I have just returned from was a lecture in English “China: a new polar power” presented by Admiral Patrick Hebrard, an associate fellow of Le Cercle Polaire.  This was full of substance. He was very knowledgeable both in breadth and depth.  Early in his presentation he made a remark which captured my attention:  the countries who control the islands of the world, control the world.  I must congratulate China on its commercial, maritime and military strategies – these are played out across the globe and the interlinkages and variety of their ‘occupations’ within other nations make it almost impossible for another nation to compete with their activity.  China demonstrates what can happen when long term plans are put into practice over decades and it shows the inherent weakness in the short-term views and practices common to democracies. Very slick.

At the beginning of this lecture we all rose for one minute’s silence in recognition this was the 11th day in the 11th month – remembering.

Now back in my cabin and out on my balcony, wearing my Antarctic jacket against the chilled wind, I watched the waves and the endless sea that softens at the horizon.IMG_4157.JPGPhotographed the Cape Petrels and other birds gliding by on the air currents above the smooth-ish waves.  The ship is still rolling a great deal. The elevators cannot be used so we are all moving up and down on the stairs. Some outer doors are sealed and the furniture in the upper restaurant is still stacked and tied together.IMG_4167.JPGI would think this type of sea is as good as it can get way down here on this part of the globe.

With time on my hands and tired of wearing the few same clothes I headed to the ship Boutique. I came away with a top in typical deep French blue with a white and gold trim. I know the number of Euros on the receipt, but I don’t care to calculate what this means in Australian dollars.  It does mean that before I reach Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina, I will need to divest myself of one old shirt to make space for the new.

The final Recap session about South Georgia Island given by several Expedition Team members provided new information and was worth attending.

This evening the Captain has scheduled a ‘White Night’, when the expectation is to dress in white clothes and join the Officers at dinner.  I donned my white shirt just in case I was inspired by anyone I know to join them for dinner. I was relieved when I sat down with Jenny and Phil in the Lounge and found they had no intentions of ‘going to dinner’. So, like them I have returned to my cabin and have ordered room service – I did bring with me my third flute of genuine Champagne. And since this is a free service and part of the deal, I may return to the Lounge for a fourth before bed. Dressed in my white shirt I will look like I am excited about this ‘white night’ opportunity.  Illusions. Delusions.

Another 24 hours has passed, and I feel the absence of activity – the past few days have been so physical, so enlightening, so magical.  Perhaps rest days are important.

When Rico, my cabin steward, came to turn down the bed and generally update the linen etc, I gave him a tip of 40 euros because his work from before 6am to nearly 10pm daily has been exceptional, and since he is from the Philippines, I know his pay would be at the bottom of the barrel. He smiled and thanked me and in the fastest movement on earth, the notes slipped out of sight into his pocket and he was, almost in the same movement, turning down the bed. This was probably a paltry amount for those used to Euros but when our exchange rate is considered, I thought it was enough – for the moment.


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