Day 2 |
Sep 22, 2009

At Sea

By JJ Apéstegui, Ornithologist

Co-ordinates: 17°34’5”N, 072°49’7”W

Weather: Relatively calm seas, clear skies, no rain

A leisurely day sailing the Caribbean Sea along the coast of Hispaniola Island, which is the home to both the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and the first land colonized by the Spanish in the 16th century.

Sea conditions were calm and a soft breeze helped to keep the temperature on the cooler side. In the wee hours of the morning there were several reports of migratory birds flying alongside the ship, probably small shorebirds or even North American Warblers on their way to their wintering grounds in South America.

After a relaxing breakfast, shortly before ten o’clock in the morning, Expedition Leader Robin West summoned all the guests to The Theatre for a mandatory briefing on the use of our Zodiac craft, the do’s and don’ts and all the proper procedures for getting in and out of these versatile boats that are one of the most important features of our operation.

This was followed immediately by a snorkeling briefing, with additional information and tips on safe snorkeling procedures. Right after that, the Expedition Team gathered in the vicinity of the Reception area to distribute snorkeling equipment to our guests.

In between briefings and excellent meals there was still time to enjoy the amenities of the Prince Albert II, the scenery of the coast of Hispaniola and the bird life or just generally relax on the open decks and the Jacuzzi.

In the early afternoon I gave a lecture entitled “Birding 101”, a basic introduction to the activity of Bird Watching, or “Birding” as it is known the world over with a general description of some of the more common and possibly seen bird groups of this voyage.

Later, during the question and answer part, Claus Hilberg, one of our guests, showed me a photograph of some immature Sandwich Terns that used the ship to get a piggy-back ride in the morning. They are one of the more common Terns in tropical waters, and these particular birds were probably just starting their first ever migration.

There were also reports of Brown Boobies and I saw some Bank Swallows flying alongside in the afternoon. Most of the birds reported so far are migrating along the Antilles, using the islands as stepping-stones on their way south.

Later, Robin West gave a briefing on our next destination, Port Antonio in Jamaica, and after some time for refreshing, we all went to the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party, where guests met Captain Golubev and some of his senior officers; this was followed by the most excellent Welcome Dinner, prepared by our Chef Lionel Lavergne and served by our Maitre d’Hotel Ali Yilmazturk and his team.

For me this was an early to bed night, as I am looking forward to a new adventure tomorrow – rafting the Rio Grande in Jamaica.