6th November 2018 – the first iceberg

I don’t know whether it was the days of sea air, the airconditioning, or the occasional glass of wine, but I felt like not getting up this morning. I felt like staying in bed and dozing all day. I was lying there trying to talk myself into getting up for the Stretch class at 8am telling myself that I must and that I should attend, when the Captain spoke on the loudspeaker.  He informed us that in fifteen minute’s time we would be passing the first iceberg of the season – unusual for this time of the year he said – on the port side. Drat – I am on the starboard side.  Pulled on clothes, grabbed the camera, and left my cabin. At first glance, tucked into the hallway railings were what seemed like little white boxes, but I soon realised they were firm structured bags for anyone who needed to vomit in a hurry.

I hurried outside and gasped with astonishment. In the distance was a huge island of ice.

I was seeing my first statuesque iceberg – and a long way north from Antarctica.  With no one to explain the options to me, I wondered if this was a remnant of some of that big ice shelf which broke off from Antarctica earlier in the year; has it been slowly melting over winter while drifting north?

You can see my view as we sailed past here.

From the Daily Program I knew where I ought to be.

Front Cover



Back Cover

By now it was a minute to 8am so I jumped into an elevator, reached Level 4 and raced down to join the first of the morning’s stretch fitness classes.  Half an hour later much extended, I travelled up to the 6th floor, joined a couple I meet with every day from Victoria’s Torquay, Jane and Willem, and ate breakfast.   Not feeling right – and not seasick – just not feeling unspecified right (although being a worry wort the weird occasional pain in my left leg between knee and groin makes me wonder if I had a blood clot), I returned to my cabin and prepared to sleep.  I was not quite asleep when the Captain spoke to say we had sailed 910 miles and had 540 to go with the expectation of arriving somewhere along South Georgia Island around 6am on Thursday morning. He also added that outside, the troughs in the sea were now about 5 metres deep – to me it was a gentle swell and immensely calm, and the sailors described it as calm.

Woke as the late morning lecture was starting. Donned my clothes and raced in to listen to Valentin Nivet-Mazerolles giving a lecture on; ‘What do we know about penguins?’  Everything from how they came to be named, the nature of their feathers (a Velcro-like connection) to their habitats, breeding habits and locations and much more.  Immensely engaging.  A well spent hour.

Returned to my cabin and slept until late this afternoon. Again, and just in time, I re-clothed and headed off for a new lecture; ‘In the footsteps of Shackleton’.  Excellent presentation which reminded me of much I had previously known, and which added new information and gave me a broader perspective.  Depending on the weather, when we reach South Georgia Island and Antarctica, we may be able to get off the ship at related sites and ‘feel’ that social history.  The constant message from all the crew and Expedition team is that there is no set itinerary from now on – every stop will be weather dependent.

It is now almost 6.30pm and the sun is shining strongly into my cabin bringing lightness and brightness. Another large albatross is gliding on the air currents just off my cabin – I can’t identify which. Magical.

So, what did I miss today?  Bingo with the cruise director, meeting the cruise sales director and buying into a new cruise trip somewhere, live music before lunch, lunch, a meeting of card players (which I would have really liked to have joined), a lecture (in German) about a German explorer in Antarctica (well I could have learnt something from the pictures), a lecture in French about a particular Antarctic bird, an afternoon tea with ‘Choux’, a quiz run by the cruise director, more live music playing now, and ‘piano melodies’ being played elsewhere.

But most sadly I missed the dance class which started while the Shackleton lecture was being presented.  The dance to be taught was not one I knew – Bachata. There are so many moments like these when I miss Google, and researching that dance is one of them.  For just under $AUD50 I could buy 1 hour 40 minutes of internet.  For just under $AUD100 I could buy 4 hours of internet.  For just under $AUD300 I could buy 16 hours and 40 minutes of internet.  Our exchange rate really disadvantages us. People on this ship who have purchased time, have had connection problems and tell me the bandwidth in their cabin is minimal and that sometimes they need to go to some of the public computers on board.  So that doesn’t sound like fun at all.  I can wait … I think.

On route to dinner I noticed a mini lecture was happening in the theatre. I sat down and listened. It was for the American amateur photographers and one fellow was explaining how he manipulates photos to create his preferred ‘natural’ image.  He started with one program and then migrates that adapted image into the latest bells and whistles all-encompassing Photoshop software.  Even though I am not expecting to be working on any photo that I take, I have in the past ‘cleaned’ up some images, so this lecture was instructive, and I am glad I found it.

I finished up eating dinner in the enjoyable company of ex Vietnam/Alaskan flying veteran Mick/Mike and his Oklahoma wife Susan. Then I retired early.