Day 2 |
May 18, 2009

Channel Islands

By Robin Aiello

Co-ordinates: N 49 44.491', W 002 10.282'

Weather: mostly blue skies with scattered clouds

Air Temperature: 11 - 17C

Wind: gusting up to 30 - 35 knots

After a rough night at sea, it was nice to wake up to a bright sunny day. However, when I looked outside it was obvious that the sea conditions were not as calm as hoped for. There was a significant swell and the winds gusts were peaking at over 20 knots.

But Conrad, the Expedition Leader, was determined to make every effort to get the guests ashore. So, after making the morning wake-up announcement from the Bridge at 0630am, he launched a Zodiac scout boat to check out the landing conditions.

Unfortunately, while Conrad and Robin West (one of the Expedition Team members and Zodiac drivers) were out scouting, the wind strength increased. Conrad and the Captain decided to delay the landing and hopefully the winds would calm down.

So, as an alternative, a series of lectures were scheduled. First up was Colleen Batey, our Archaeologist, with her talk entitled "Vikings of the Irish Sea Region and the Hebrides". During her talk, Colleen introduced us to the world of Vikings - who they were, how they lived and behaved and where they wandered. Colleen's area of expertise is the study of the Vikings, and she peppered her talk with lots of anecdotal stories about her experiences during archaeological digs in Viking settlements.

The next lecture "Seabirds - Life on the Edge" was given by Robert Lambert, one of our General Naturalists. Robert has been an avid birder since a young boy, and his passion for birds really shone through. He started the lecture with information about the history of seabirds - their exploitation, their subsequent protection, and their present population status. He then went on to introduce us to some of the most common species of seabirds that we would most likely see during the journey. These included the Puffin, Guillemot, Fulmar, Skua, Shearwater, Gannet, Shag, Kittiwake, Arctic Tern and Black-headed Gull (to name only a few). Many of us gathered out on the decks later on and watched the amazing Gannets that were flying close to the ship.

Right after the lecture, the Expedition Team hosted the First Timer's Party for all guests who were travelling with Silversea for the first time. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to mingle with the guests and find out more about where they were from and what other cruising experiences they have had.

By late morning, the seas and winds had still not settled, and the weather predictions were not improving, so the decision to lift the anchor and sail towards the Scilly Isles was made by Conrad and the Captain. Unfortunately, the Harbour Master at Guernsey, where we were scheduled to land in the afternoon, advised us that sea conditions were too bad to make a landing there as well.

Later in the afternoon, the onboard Photographer, Camille, gave a presentation "Photography 101" which covered the basics of photography. She used some of her beautiful photos to demonstrate basic fundamentals of good photography, including composition, scale and use of light. She finished her presentation with a series of photos that she took last year while chasing storms in the USA.

The journey's first Recap & Briefing was held at 5:15pm. During this gathering, Conrad first briefed the guests on the planned itinerary for the following day in the Isles of Scilly, and then the lecture staff followed with a series of small informative talks.

I started by showing a list of all the different nationalities of our crew (29 different nationalities!!!) and of the guests (6 nationalities). I then explained how English was the language of the ship. Colleen followed my introduction with a brief talk on the excavation work on Tintagel Castle, in Cornwall. She was followed by Juan Carlos Restrepo, our Geologist, who showed a couple videos about plate tectonics and how the plates had moved over the past few hundred million years into the positions that they are currently.

Later in the evening, all the guests were invited to the Captain's Welcome Cocktail Party and Dinner. Despite the rocking ship, most of our guests showed up in The Theatre all dressed up in their finery to meet Captain Peter Stahlberg share and share a toast with him and the other officers. We all headed to The Restaurant afterwards for a delicious dinner of lobster or filet mignon.