Day 1 |
May 15, 2011

Portsmouth, UK

By Victoria Salem, Historian

Co-ordinates: 50°49’N – 001°06’W
Weather: Fine, with occasional sun and light winds
Air temperature: +14°C

Boarding began from 12 noon and guests arrived at Portsmouth harbour individually and in small clusters at first, with all on board by 4pm. This gave most people time to enjoy a welcome drink, check in, eat lunch, settle into suites, do some unpacking and even get to know Silver Explorer a little before heading out on deck to watch us set sail. Just before 5pm we slipped out of Portsmouth harbour and headed SW towards the Isles of Scilly, to begin our 10-day adventure. Those of us standing on the forward deck found the views excellent, but it was somewhat breezy; the aft deck was more sheltered and had the advantage of a bar to serve us drinks!

Shortly after sail away, we were summoned to our muster station in The Theatre by the ship’s emergency signal. Fortunately, this was not a real emergency! We were informed in advance over the loudspeaker system that we would be experiencing a Lifeboat and Safety drill at 5.30pm, and that we should bring our large, orange lifejackets with us. In the presence of the ship’s Safety Officer, our Expedition Leader Conrad Combrink gave us a presentation that included all the information we needed and a staff member demonstrated how to put on the lifejackets correctly. Then it was our turn to try them on and, after an opportunity to ask questions, enjoy free time again until 6.30pm.

Just before dinner we gathered in The Theatre once more for a formal welcome on board from our Expedition Leader. Conrad introduced some of Silver Explorer’s Heads of Department to us; these were going to be the people responsible for our comfort and wellbeing on board ship – in terms of accommodation, food and drink, even such luxuries as shopping, hairstyling and Spa Management.

Then it was the turn of the Expedition Team, who introduced ourselves. We are a sizeable team, able to lecture on a variety of topics and experts in different fields - wildlife, history, environment, Zodiac driving and administrative support.

Our first shipboard dinner was served from 7.30pm in The Restaurant and as always, although full of good intentions, I sampled every course! That meant a last stroll out on deck was necessary before retiring for the night, looking forward with much anticipation to our first day of activities tomorrow.