Day 11 |
Nov 22, 2009

At Sea, En Route To Elephant Island

By Victoria Salem, Historian

Co-ordinates at 12 noon: 58°59’S, 047°53’W

Weather: Overcast, some fog, some wind, bright spells

I was able to sleep quite late this morning as today was to be another sea day. The ship was moving gently as I got dressed, with a bit of swell, though nothing much to worry about. 

After a sustaining breakfast I went out on deck for a breath of fresh air and a little exercise.  At about 9.45am I set up for this morning’s talks in The Theatre. This morning, expedition staff were going to spend most of their time in the Mud Room, supervising guests as they scrubbed their boots and checking all their external clothing before we could go ashore in Antarctica. Guests were called for this scrubbing, brushing and vacuuming session in two groups; we were all professionals at this as we had already experienced it before landing in South Georgia, so all went very smoothly.  In order to accommodate both groups, I offered my lecture at 10am and again at 11:30am.

Today’s title was “The Antarctic Treaty System” and offered an overview of how the Antarctic Treaty came into being, what it consists of, details of its main clauses, how it works in reality and what the future may hold.  Now that we are about to arrive there, many guests were curious as to how this isolated part of the world, owned by no one, was governed. I got some interesting and challenging questions at the end of my talk and some thoughtful responses.  It is always so enlightening to discuss Antarctica with guests who are visiting for the first time and approach the region with fresh ideas and enquiring minds.

Lunch time was very welcome for all of us.  The mood on the ship was positive and upbeat as we maintain good progress towards Elephant Island in calm seas.  There was a contented buzz of conversation in The Restaurant, where I enjoyed good company and excellent steak and ale pie (rather better than I can get at home in the UK!). 

Conrad Combrink kicked off the afternoon lecture programme. Conrad comes from our Head Office and is on board to keep us informed about future Silversea Cruise itineraries and to keep an eye on how our Prince Albert II expedition operations work. He gave us a lively talk, including many insights into product development, followed by an introduction of the Prince Albert II 2010 and 2011 itineraries. He also introduced Silversea’s newest ship to be launched in one month’s time – Silver Spirit.

Afternoon tea followed at 4pm and at 5pm our Ornithologist, Anja Nordt, offered a talk called “Life on Ice and Stones.” She focused on the plants and small animals that manage to survive in the harsh terrestrial ecosystem of Antarctica.

Our photographer, Richard Sidey, had a treat for us at 6.30pm.  He showed us the first half of the Photo Recap he is putting together to commemorate our voyage and we were delighted by his creative footage, including brilliant shots of battling elephant seals and king penguins.  Expedition Leader Robin West followed this up with a briefing about our projected activity upon reaching Elephant Island tomorrow – a Zodiac cruise off Point Wild, weather dependent of course!

The evening of our relaxing day ended with Lou in the Panorama Lounge after dinner. Alternatively, some of us settled down in our suites to watch “Shackleton – Part I”.