Day 8 |
Jun 12, 2010

At Sea En Route To Trondheim, Norway

By Victoria Salem, Historian

Co-ordinates: 62°08’N – 002°54’E (Noon position)

Weather:  Overcast, windy with moderate swell

Air temperature: 11°C

I woke up in the early hours, aware that the ship was moving quite a lot! It seemed a good idea to check that my camera equipment and computer were safely stowed; then I lurched back to bed with the feeling that we might have a somewhat challenging sea day ahead.

Sure enough, when I went into breakfast at about 8am I discovered an almost-empty Restaurant and I was less tempted than usual to load my plate with fried food! Deciding that attending a lecture or two would be as good a way to develop sea legs as any, I headed to The Theatre to hear Chris Cutler, our Ornithologist, speak on “Birds of the British Isles and Norwegian Coast”. Chris was informative and funny as he spoke of the various species’ adaptations to their environment and how best to identify what we were looking at. His anecdotes on bird behaviour and unusual traits were particularly memorable. As with all lectures today, a number of guests understandably chose to watch and listen from the comfort of their suites rather than balance their way up the stairs to join us in person.

After a quick walk round the deck to check for birds and whales (the latter very difficult to see on a day with sea spray and swell), I returned to The Theatre for our Biologist, Kara Weller’s talk, on “Marine Mammals of the North Atlantic”. Kara gave us a general overview of the features of each species, then focused on the seals and whales we have the best chance of seeing over the next few weeks. Her tips for quick identification were especially helpful – these creatures do not linger very long, so it’s always a good idea to be out on deck keeping a look out with binoculars and camera at the ready.

The sea was calming down slightly when I made my way into lunch, though there were still far fewer guests around than usual. After lunch I was back in The Theatre to give a history lecture on The World’s Greatest Polar Explorer – Fridtjof Nansen. Nansen emerged as a national figure in Norway at a time when the country was pushing for its independence from Sweden. He was a brilliant neurologist, oceanographer, diplomat and explorer, and of course our main concern with him on this trip is as the first man to cross the Greenland Icecap and deliberately freeze his ship (Fram ) into sea ice and attempt to drift across the North Pole itself.

After this talk we all needed a cup of tea and many of us gathered in the Panorama Lounge for a drink and cakes – difficult to resist on a sea day on the Prince Albert II. Sea conditions were improving all the time and so cocktail hour drew more people from their suites. Instead of the usual recap, Richard Sidey (Photographer) showed the first part of his photo CD of the trip, including some smashing underwater shots from yesterday’s Zodiac cruise, featuring strands of waving seaweed, jellyfish and seals! After this, I managed to fit in a short explanation of the Shetland Bus, the life-saving link run by fishing boats between occupied Norway and Shetland in World War II. Then Expedition Leader, Robin West, briefed us on our activities in Trondheim tomorrow. Soon we will be in Norway!

Most guests were up and about for dinner and retired tonight expecting to sleep better than last night as we would be picking up a pilot and entering sheltered waters by about 2am.