Day 42 – Tuesday, February 15 – Drake Passage

We had a good night, comparatively. I really slept in this morning; not up until 8:15. Waves have consistently been in the 15-18 foot range for the past 24 hours but the weather has been great. We have clear skies and only moderate winds. For the Drake Passage this is considered very good. It is a challenge to navigate around the ship, take a shower or even eat a meal. Someone commented at lunch today that we were having “fast food”, you had to chase it down as it slid across the table! We are expected to be reaching Cape Horn around 7:00 PM this evening; unfortunately we do not have the luxury of time to circle the Cape. That would involve having to get a Chilean pilot onboard if we come within three miles of the Cape. We will be able to see the Cape but at a distance. We must continue on to the Beagle Strait where we will take on an Argentine Pilot to navigate us to Usuaia, where we are due early in the morning.

I had a few more photos I meant to post yesterday which I missed. I have included those here. If I am able to get some good photos of the Cape this evening I will post those as well.

Palmer station staff loading their zodiac.

Note their gear. They have to travel several miles to the station through 6 to 8 foot waves, 30 mph winds and light snow.

A wide angle shot of the two boats on their way to Plamer Station in the distance.

 

Just a couple of scenic views from the past few days

Sunrise a couple of days ago

 

The controls on the port side wing bridge.

As I write this it is 1:45 AM local time. This morning I attended a lecture on Antarctic Ice by our onboard geologist. I know that probably doesn’t sound too interesting to you at home, but having just left all that ice behind, I found it quite enjoyable. I am going to a presentation by the 3rd Officer about the bridge and ship operation at 2:30 PM, then a lecture about Punta Arenas by our travel guide Frank Buckingham at 3:30 PM. I will have to leave Frank’s lecture early because I have a hair cut appointment at 4:00 PM. Tuesdie I wish you were here, I hate to have my hair cut by a new stylist!

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Day 41 – Monday, February 14 – Palmer Station

I have a little catching up to do. We have been very busy the past two days. As told in my last post the weather was absolutely fantastic at Elephant Island. One of our onboard Antarctic experts said a day like that happens maybe 1 in 100. We were lucky. Yesterday unfortunately was more typical of Antarctic weather. We had some light freezing rain in the morning, changing to light snow off and on during the day. Late in the evening we actually had some accumulation which many of the Philippino stewards were thrilled with. Many of them have never seen snow.

The weather did prevent us from tranversing the Neumayer Channel. We made it to the mouth but winds were about 50-60 mph and the captain was concerned about such high winds in the narrow channel for a ship of our size. We would not have had room to turn around safely without the possibility of being blown against an iceberg or the channel wall. We did get some good photos but sadly missed the Channel. Earlier in the morning we did see Couverville Island and then later Paradise Bay.

Early evening about 8:00 PM the wind began to pick up and the captain reported that we were having winds in excess of 65 Knots, over 75 mph. The sea became quite rough which made walking difficult. We watched a movie and enjoyed the ride at the same time! During the night the storm continued but Kay and I slept well. We were awakened a couple of times, by things falling. In the morning we had several things on the floor and found one wine glass had fallen out of the cabinet and was broken. We will be crossing the Drake Strait tonight, and will probably have some more rough seas.

 

Dining Room Stewards enjoying the snow

 

Kay with snow on the Lido in the background

 

Picture of waves thru our balcony window, taken at about 10:30 PM and there was still this much light! We are pretty far south…. Unofficially, I understand the waves were in excess of 20 feet.

 

Palmer station, this is a file photo. We never got even close to the shore, it was much too shallow.

The station is named for Nathaniel B. Palmer, usually recognized as the first American to see Antarctica. The maximum population that Palmer Station can accommodate is 46 people. The normal austral summer contingent varies but is generally around 40 people. Palmer is staffed year-round, however, and the population drops to between 15 and 20 people for the winter maintenance after the conclusion of the summer research season. There are science labs located in the Bio-Lab building (pictured), as well as a pier and a helicopter pad.

The facility is the second Palmer Station; “Old Palmer” was about a mile to the northwest adjacent to the site of the British Antarctic Survey “Base N”, built in the mid fifties. The site is on what is now known as Amsler Island. Old Palmer was built about 1965, and served as a base for those building “new” Palmer, which opened in 1968. Old Palmer was designated as an emergency refuge for the new station in case of disaster, though this perceived need disappeared over time. It was dismantled and removed from the Antarctic as part of the National Science Foundation’s environmental cleanup efforts in the early 1990s.

The majority of the science research conducted at Palmer Station centers around marine biology. The station also houses year-round monitoring equipment for global seismic, atmospheric and UV monitoring networks. Palmer also hosts a radio receiver that studies lightning over the Western Hemisphere.

Palmer Station is located near penguin colonies — Adélie, Gentoo and Chin-strap penguins are in abundance during summers, but small numbers can be found in the area at all times of the year.

The area is also home to several types of seals: Fur seals, Elephant seals, Crabeater seals and Leopard seals. The area is often visited by Minke, Orca and Humpback whales.

Other research is conducted from the R/V Laurence M. Gould. Science cruises cover physical oceanography, marine geology and marine biology. The ship also carries field parties to sites around the Antarctic Peninsula to study glaciology, geology and paleontology.

We arrived off Anvers Island early this morning. About 7:00 AM a contingency of two zodiacs carrying about 20 individuals met the ship from Palmer Station. The group included the Station Director, the doctor and several workers, and researchers. We will be leaving one person at Palmer, Jackie, who we picked up in Buenos Aries and we will be taking back three people who are leaving the Station.

The Palmer representatives gave a great presentation about the station and the work they do. They then hosted a question and answer session. This group remained on the ship while we attempted to cruise Lemaire Channel. We again were foiled, this time by the ice in the channel. We were able to get some great scenery and then went back to the Neumayer Channel which we could not pass into yesterday. Today we were able to see the Neumayer.

The Palmer group, many who were research students really enjoyed the few hours on the Prinsendam. They seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time in the Lido Restaurant! The group was eager and willing to answer questions about their work and the Station. I guess after spending months with the same 40 odd people, it’s nice to get the opportunity to talk with someone different.

Palmer provides this service a part of their public relations, and Holland America in turn sent the zodiacs back loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, something everyone at permanent installations in Antarctica cherish.

 

A couple of the Palmer people on deck.

Entrance to Lemaire Channel

 

Carl, Kay, Janet and David

The Penguin Plunge! At the southernmost point of our cruise everyone was invited to join Thom with a dip in the pool while in Antarctica. A number of people did participate….

On the other hand, our own penguin, Carl, did hop into the Jacuzzi on the Aft deck for a photo opportunity. We said Carl took one for the team….

Hello Soleil!

As you can see, this proves what we all know, Janet is smarter than Carl.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. I have got to get dressed for our Valentine Formal Night Dinner.

On to Cape Horn for tomorrow morning… It might be a rough night.

 

 

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Day 39(a) Antarctic Experience Continued

 

To my surprise internet connection has been very good south of the 60 degree latitude line. I made an effort to get some photographs posted at the expense of commentary. Actually little commentary was needed for the pictures as they pretty well speak for themselves. I will try to tell a little about our Antarctic experience to this point though.

We have had many very capable speakers over the past several days. Usually there are two 1 hour lectures each morning and another in the afternoon. Today since we have reached some of our destinations, we did not have a formal presentation. Instead, there was commentary by the appropriate “expert” when we were at a notable location. The commentary is broadcast over the outside PA system when we are not too close to wildlife. It is also broadcast over the TV system for in cabin reception, along with the fore and aft camera feeds.

Of course any and all lectures are voluntary, but it would be a shame not to take advantage of the excellent minds available to educate yourself about this remarkable part of our earth. So, although this is vacation trip it is also an educational experience. Not only have I learned a great deal from the lecturers onboard, but I am accumulating an extensive reading list for when I return home! In addition we have met and made friends with other travelers from all over the world, another avenue to continue the learning process.

Since we are officially Expeditionaries, we were required to be briefed on the basic rules as laid down in the Antarctic Treaty. We had a presentation by the Safety and Environmental officer and also by the guest speakers. Each daily issue of the Explorer, our daily program and activity guide, also has an abbreviated list of the rules.

 

Some of these are:

Respect and honor the serenity of the environment.
Cans, paper napkins and straws will NOT be available on outside decks (in fact they have been completely removed during this part of the cruise)
Do not smoke on outside decks or balconies
Do not feed the birds or seal life that inhabits this region
Do not throw anything overboard and remove all items that can be blown overboard by the wind
Do not play music or make loud noise on open decks

These are some of the rules we are to follow. In one of the presentations about the actual Treaty, and its many amendments, it was noted that dogs, cats and chickens are no longer permitted in the Antarctic region. This is because of the fear that a domestic virus might be introduced which could mutate into a lethal disease for the indigenous species.

Also, a new aspect of the Treaty which becomes effective this July will change the way cruise ships such as the Prinsendam can travel below the 60th parallel. As I understand the new rule, any ship with a capacity of more than 500 persons is prohibited from using bunker oil, the less expensive heavy fuel most ships are powered by. Many ships such as the Prinsendam are capable of using the lighter but much more expensive diesel fuel. This will certainly affect the arability of inexpensive trips to the Antarctic in the future. The problem with the heavier fuel is that in case of an accident or spill, the environmental damage is much more severe than with the lighter fuels.

While Antarctica has no permanent residents, anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 people reside at various times of the year as participants in research projects representing many different countries. Although some of these research stations are staffed year-round, the personnel are not considered residents of Antarctica. In 1978 Emilio Marcos Palma became the first person born on the Antarctic mainland. His parents were part of a group of families sent by the Argentinean government to see if family life was suitable, or even possible, in the harsh conditions. Currently, there are several bases where families live and station schools attend to the educational needs of the children. The photos I posted earlier of red buildings in Hope Bar is the location of the first birth.

Penguins on the shelf of a huge berg

Just before dinner we passed this huge iceberg with a large group of pengins on a shelf. They were many miles from land. During dinner this evening we watched sea lions alongside the ship. After we had returned from dinner and while waiting to reach our next destination, Deception Island, we had an announcement that humpback whales had been spotted on the port side of the ship. Fortunately for us this is our side. Kay and I quickly went to the balcony and did manage to watch two for a few minutes before they disappeared. I got a few photos. They are not great, but I did see them!

 

Humpback Whale

Blowing

We did reach Deception Island about 9:15 PM. There was still daylight, but fog had come in. Our speaker did a narration of the island but there was not much to see, but I did get some photos and can say I saw the island. Deception Island is volcano crater and still considered active. In the past it was an important whaling center. Our ship is much too large to enter the circle through Neptune’s Bellows.

Deception Island is an island in South Shetland off the Antarctic Peninsula, which has one of the safest harbors in Antarctica. A recently active volcano in 1967 and 1969 caused serious damage to the local scientific stations. The only current research bases are run by Argentina and Spain.

 

Neptune’s Window, Deception Island

Neptune’s Bellows, entry to Deception Island

I guess I better end. It is almost 11:00 PM and we have another early morning ahead. I hope you have enjoyed the photographs.

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Day 39 – Saturday, February 10 – Antarctica Hope Bay

Elephant Island at the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula got its fame form Earnest Shackleton’s misfortune. Shackleton’s ship was frozen fast in ice in January 1915 where it remained until November of that year. After living on an ice flow for five more months, Shackleton ordered his men into the lifeboats on April 9th, 1916. Five harrowing days later they landed on Elephant Island. He then set off to South Georgia with a handful of men in their best lifeboat, the James Caird, leaving 22 men behind. After enduring two weeks of rough seas and a treacherous hike over South Georgia Island to a Norwegian whaling station followed by three foiled rescue attempts, All hands were rescued on August 30th, 1916. Several photos of Elephant Island were posted on the previous blog.

After leaving Elephant Island we sailed into Hope Bay about six hours later. We spent about 3 hours in the bay and had a good look at several large chinstrap penguin colonies. One of the colonies actually was living with the Argentine Base at Hope Bay. We had good views of the base as well as the surrounding ice, mountains and wildlife. The area is stunningly beautiful.

Enjoy the photos…

 

You know it’s good if Kay will brave the cold for two hours!

Argentinean Antarctic Base

Janet, Kay and Carl

Chinstrap Penguins

More Penguins, High Tech

Our captain on the Bridge Wing

Penguins Marching

Norm, our Chief Security Officer

I am sorry there was not much commentary, but I wanted to get the pictures posted if possible. I am sure we will have another big day tomorrow. We are visiting the American, Palmer Station and will be taking on several scientists who will be giving lectures.

 

 

 

 

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Day 38 & 39 – Friday & Saturday, February 11 & 12 – At Sea & Elephant Island

This is the first day at sea since leaving the Falklands. The morning temperature was a balmy 62 degrees with the sun beaming onto our veranda. I spent some time reading in shirt sleeves but I could tell it was gradually getting cooler. By noon we were in a deep fog and could barely see the ocean and the temperature had dropped to about 58 degrees. It is now 5:00 PM local time and the temperature is 43 degrees. We were told the fog was due to our crossing the convergence of the North Atlantic and South Atlantic currents with their diverse water temperatures. We are still in the fog but it is not as heavy as it previously was.

An interesting fact; when we cross the 60 degree latitude line, which we will be doing soon, we will no longer be considered passengers of a cruise line. By the rules and definitions of the Antarctic Treaty we will be considered Expeditioners. It sounds kind of strange but it is a fun concept. I guess we can legitimately say we have been on “an Antarctic Expedition”. According to the International Treaty, anyone desiring to travel below 60 degrees latitude must file with the appropriate agency, listing their proposed travel plans, and file an environmental impact statement.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

We were up at 4:30AM this morning. The plan was to be at Elephant Island at 5:00 AM approximately daybreak. We were hoping the fog would have lifted enough for us to at least be able to see the island. Unfortunately more times than not, the island is cloaked in fog and low clouds with little or no visibility. When we awoke (5 minutes before the alarm), it was foggy but not so dense there was no visibility. We got dressed in our warmest clothes, the temperature was only about 38 but the wind was about 35 mph. To our astonishment and the bridge, the fog cleared and the sun rose. It was announced from the bridge that only one person on the bridge had ever seen Elephants Island this clear. This was our official Expedition Leader, John Ssplettstoesser who has been to the Antarctica an untold number of times and he had only seen it this good once. After Elephant Island we sailed for Hope Bay with an arrival time of 1:00 PM. The Argentina base of Esperanza is located here. Beyond belief, our luck was holding and we again had a beautiful cruise around the bay. By radio we were invited to land by the Argentineans, but since we did not have official permission (as filed by the Treaty requirements) as well as time we were forced to respectifully decline their generous offer. They were as excited to see us as we were them. A plane circled overhead for about 30 minutes and communicated with the bridge. Apparently they were taking photos of us as we were of them! Yes, fate was certainly favoring us today. I could literally write, if not a book at least a chapter about what we have seen and learned today but instead I will share some photos. If anyone has specific questions I will try to answer them if a following blog.

 

Daybreak on Elephant Island

The captain point to where Shackleton’s crew landed in 1916 and survived several months

Penguins on an iceberg

 

Endurance Glacier

Kay and Janet bundled for the cold.

All of these photos are from Elephant Island. I will try to make another post soon with photos from Hope Bay if internet connections allow.

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Day 37 – Thursday, February 10 – Stanley, Falkland Islands

 

Stanley (population approximately 2000) is the main town on the islands and the hub of East Falkland’s road network. Attractions include the Falkland Islands Museum, Government House, built in 1845 and home to the Governor of the Falkland Islands, a golf course, and are known for its whalebone arch, a totem pole, several war memorials and the shipwrecks in its harbor. The Falkland Islands Company owns several shops and a hotel. Stanley has four pubs, eleven hotels & guesthouses, three restaurants, a fish and chips shop and the main tourist office. There are three churches including the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral the southernmost cathedral in the world. The cathedral makes tiny Stanley a city. A grim reminder of the minefields to the south is the bomb disposal unit.

The town hall serves as a post office, philatelic bureau, law court and dance hall. The police station also contains the islands’ only prison, with a capacity of thirteen in the cells.

The community centre includes a swimming pool (the only public one in the islands), a sports centre, library, and school. A grass football pitch is located by the community centre and hosts regular games.

Stanley Golf Course has an 18 hole course and a club house. It is also located to the west of Stanley.

Stanley is also home to the Falkland Islands Radio Station (FIRS), the Stanley office of the British Antarctic Survey, and the office of the weekly Penguin News newspaper.

Work on the settlement began in 1843 and it became the capital in July 1845. It was named after Lord Stanley, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies at the time.

In 1849, thirty married Chelsea Pensioners were settled there to help with the defense of the islands and to develop the new settlement.

The settlement soon grew as a deep-water port, specializing at first in ship repairs; indeed, before the construction of the Panama Canal, Port Stanley was a major repair stop for boats travelling through the Straits of Magellan. The rough waters and intense storms found at the tip of the continent forced many ships to Stanley Harbor, and the ship repair industry helped to drive the island economy. Later it became a base for whaling and sealing in the South Atlantic and Antarctic.

Stanley was occupied by Argentine troops for about ten weeks during the Falklands War in 1982. The Argentines renamed the town Puerto Argentino, and although Spanish names for places in the Falklands were historically accepted as alternatives, this one is considered to be extremely offensive by many islanders, demanding as it does that the city is Argentine. It has however gained some support in Spanish-speaking countries, though its acceptance is far from unanimous. Stanley suffered considerable damage during the war, from both the Argentine occupation and the British naval shelling of the town, which killed three civilians. After the British secured the high ground around the town the Argentines surrendered with no fighting in the town itself. The beaches and land around it were heavily mined and some areas remain marked minefields.

Since the Falklands War, Stanley has benefited from the growth of the fishing and tourism industries in the Islands. Stanley itself has developed greatly in that time, with the building of a large amount of residential housing, particularly to the east of the town centre. Stanley is now more than a third bigger than it was in 1982.

We arrived in Stanley Harbor at about 8:45 AM. It will require a fairly long tender to the tender dock in Stanley. The weather looks nice. The temperature is 57 degrees with low clouds which appear to be clearing. We are getting ready for our shore excursion which starts at 10:30. We should have 2 or 3 hours to explore the town after our trip to Sparrow Cove to hopefully see some penguin colonies.

I have returned to writing at about 10:30 PM local time. We had a great day, but it wasn’t as smooth as the captain had hoped. The forecast was for winds of about 25 mpg, but by the time the ship was ready to start tenders there was a steady wind of about 35 knots or close to 40 mph. There apparently was some discussion about not attempting to tender due to the wind and water conditions. More than likely if we had any other captain we would not have seen Stanley today. But captain Halle Gundersen, having been with this ship since the keel was laid has more experience with this ship than probably any other cruise captain with any other ship. A call in the Falklands is always questionable due to weather but we had been informed earlier that Captain Gundersen has never NOT tendered at Stanley. Today he almost didn’t!

Because of the strong winds, we were only able to drop two tenders, and there was some delay in getting ashore for many people. Fortunately for Kay and I, our excursion began from the ship with a private tender which is local and more suited to the waters here. We left about 10:40 and arrived in a small sheltered cove. There were two 4×4’s waiting for our party 11.

We proceeded overland (note I did not say over road) for about 30 minutes. The scenery was beautiful but barren. There are really few roads outside of town except for a couple which crisscross the main island.

We saw sheep grazing in the scrub grasslands below the rocky ridges.

This is the trail we were following

But the drive was worth the effort. We arrived at an area which supported two colonies of Gentoo Penguins as well as a few King Penguins. I am going to just provide a few photographs without much commentary.

A King incubating an egg

Kay with a few feathered friends

Wow guys, look at this neat lichen!

Ok, get in line to load up…

I took hundreds of penguin photos, they are natural models. Their curiosity and lack of fear of man makes them easy subjects to photograph. The wind was pretty stiff but the temperature was in the high 50’s to low 60’s and not uncomfortably cold. On our trip back our driver said she had two daughters, her seven year old just could not understand why anyone would pay money to see penguins! I imagine in her eyes they are just a bunch of birds which stink up the country side!

Remnants of the British conflict with Argentina in 1982 are still very much evident. There are large areas of land which are fenced off with warning signs about mine fields.

Fortunately we didn’t step on any leftover mines, and made it safely back to our boat.

Our tender took our back to the dock in Stanley where Kay and I immediately walked up the main hill in town to the Victory Bar, so named in honor of the Falklands Island War.

Here we had the traditional fish and chips, washed down with beer. I had an English brew”John Smith” and Kay surprised me by having a Heineken herself. It was a true local British Pub, with dart boards and pool table. The food was quite good and reasonably priced. The total tab for the two of us was $24.00.

Perhaps the following photo is not in good taste and I apologize to anyone who might be offended, but I could not include it in my post. About a year ago, Falklands passed a no smoking law which applied to all public locations. Signs are posted everywhere. They pretty much all look like this one except for the wording. This sign was located in the men’s room at the Victory Bar. After my visit, I actually went back with my camera for this photo. Apparently a more conventional one was in the lady’s room.

It was after lunch when we returned to the dock area, we learned from Norm, one of the Prinsendam’s security officers that tender operations had been suspended for safety reasons. Apparently the wind was gusting up to 55 knots or in excess of 60 miles an hour. The steady wind was probably 40 mph and was actually making it difficult to walk. The official word was that the wind was expected to drop later in the afternoon and they hoped to be able to resume tender operations. Well, we hoped so too. In the back of our minds was the thought that in the past passengers have been left because they could not be returned to the ship. On a HAL ship not too long ago, a group had to stay several days before they were “rescued”. We decided to continue our tour; there wasn’t much else we could do!

 

We visited the Anglican Church with the famous whalebone arch beside it.

We did some shopping and picked up several interesting things including a couple of watercolors of penguins. We visited the post office, where we mailed several post cards and a couple of birthday cards with the fairly coveted Falkland Island Stamps. We then eventually started making our way back to the dock area. To our delight, we saw one tender leaving for the ship and we were able to catch the next. It was a pretty bouncy ride and a few passengers did get pretty wet, but we made it safely back to the ship in time for dinner. This is always a good thing!

This photo gives some idea of the seas, and this was after the winds died down enough where we could tender to the ship.

After dinner this shot was taken of the shore with one of the many low hills in the background just before sunset. We all agreed the Island was a beautiful place in a rustic kind of way. The people were very friendly and generous and proud of their Heritage. The best way to stay on their good side though is to not say anything good about Argentina; they have a true dislike for this country even though it is their nearest neighbor. When we asked our driver where the islanders went on holiday, the answer was Great Britain, Chile, or the U.S. Argentina was not ever mentioned.

Well we have another day at sea on our way to Antarctica….

 

 

 

 

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Day 35 & 36 – Tuesday & Wednesday, February 8 & 9 – At Sea

After leaving Buenos Aires, Argentina we have two full days at sea as we make our way to Stanley, Falkland Islands. We left the Port in Buenos Aires at about 4:00Pm on Monday the 7th. The port is an extremely busy one for cargo. It is fascinating to just watch the huge cranes manipulating the cargo containers.

View of one of the docks as we were leaving the port

It is my understanding it will take about 12 hours four us to navigate the Rio de la Plata before reaching the Atlantic. We first had a port pilot to get the Prinsendam out of the protected harbor.

Prinsendam being pulled by a tug our of the harbor

Here you can see one of the manmade breaks we had to navigate around to exit the harbor.

The journey up the Rio de la Plata is one which requires a great deal of skill and knowledge of the river. Although the river is extremely wide, you would think you are already in the ocean, it is very shallow. For the ships coming into and leaving Montevideo and Buenos Aires, it is necessary to travel a fairly narrow channel marked with buoys. It is so narrow that essentially you have one lane of traffic in each direction effectively forming a convoy of ships. When you meet a ship travelling in the opposite direction the passing of the ships can be rather exciting.

In the above photos we were meeting a small freighter and the passage was not too close, but during the night there was a continuous line of ships, freighters and cruise ships which we met. Some seemed almost close enough to reach out and touch from our balcony. Although there was probably a good 100 feet between ships, the size of the ships makes this distance seem close. In all of these photos taken from our balcony you can see the tops of the life boats which are suspended beneath our balconies.

The distance to Stanley is about 1200 miles. For the first few hundred miles of this leg of our journey, we were “rocking and rolling” with waves in the 7 to 12 foot range. After we reached deeper water in the Atlantic the sailing became smoother.

We have a number of noted speakers who boarded in Buenos Aires to give presentations each day about various aspects of the countries we will be visiting. The topics covered include history, culture, geography, ecology and wildlife. Tuesday morning we listened to a presentation by Warren Salinger, a noted author and speaker whose background is political science. Mr. Salinger has traveled extensively in countries throughout the world, particular during times of unrest. His lectures center on the culture, history, politics and economics of Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru and Uruguay. Later in the day we attended a lecture by John Splettstoesser, a geologist who has done extensive field work in the Antarctica. In fact, Mr. Splettstoesser has a mountain and a glacier named for him. He has authored about 175 publications and received two polar medals (U.S. and U.S.S.R.) for his work in Antarctica. We look forward their future presentations.

Gray clouds at daybreak on Wednesday morning Feb. 9th. I woke up at about 5:15 took this photo and went back to bed! As you can see, the Atlantic was calm. I checked the temperature and it was 60 degrees.

This morning (Wednesday) we attended “Good Morning Prinsendam with Thom”, the guest interview this morning was with Craig Oaks, the Culinary Operations Manager for the cruise. The interview was not about food though; Mr. Oaks was in the Falkland Islands during the Falkland War. He was not serving in the British Military, but was a volunteer on one of the Warships. He was nineteen, having run away from home at age of sixteen to join the British Merchant Marines. His stories about his life as well as the first person account of the conflict were very interesting. I think it will contribute to our visit in the Falklands tomorrow.

After the interview, we attended another lecture by Mr. Salinger about Argentina. It gave additional insights into South America’s second largest country. We have spent two days in Buenos Aires and will be spending another day in the southern most city of Ushuaia, after our visit to the Falklands and cruising in the Antarctic.

We had lunch today with the Cruise Critics group. Everyone at our table left early to attend a “cabin crawl” except Peter, our cabin neighbor from Australia, Kay and I. We talked over coffee and dessert for almost 45 minutes after the others had left.

We just returned from an afternoon lecture and got the results of the “cabin crawl”. For explanation, a “cabin crawl” is where a group visits different categories of cabins throughout the ship. To make it more interesting on this crawl, every participant contributed $5.00 to the pot. At each cabin you drew a card from a deck and recorded your card. At the conclusion of the tour the person with the highest “hand” won 80% of the pot. The person with the lowest hand won the remaining 20%. There were 26 people on this crawl for a total pot of $130.00. For all you neighbors in Soleil, you will be glad to know that Sandra won the pot with a Full House, $105.00. Carl won the low hand for $30.00. Soleil 1, the rest of the world 0. Additionally, Janet has found a Mahjong group to play with. She is playing almost every day while at sea and it is my understanding that she is “whipping butt”.

As I write this, we have just returned from dinner and will soon be leaving for the evening’s entertainment. I am going to try to get this posted tonight but our internet service has been spotty. We have been told that the further south we go, the less certain our connections will be. If you do not see a post every day, that is the reason. When we get back within satellite service I will catch up with the postings and photographs of the Antarctic.

We are looking forward to the Falkland Islands tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

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