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Day 1 - May 10, 2010 - Portsmouth, Uk

By Chris Cutler, Naturalist

Coordinates: 50°49'N and 1°07’W
Weather: sunny

With the Prince Albert II tied up alongside the pier in Portsmouth Harbour, the day was a busy one with provisioning, bunkering, and a crew drill, the latter a regular part of our rigorous shipboard safety regime. Sacks of flour and sugar, cases of wine, bags of onions, and reams of paper were among the many stores loaded on board by a chain of human hands and swinging arms, all to be placed in specific places under the guidance of the provision master. Home port of the Royal Navy, the natural harbour has historically been of great significance, and today is important for a variety of ferry services to the UK and French ports.

By midday, guests began arriving for our voyage from Portsmouth to Leith that will take us to some of the most scenic and historic sites, and loveliest of islands, in England, Ireland and Scotland. Everyone was warmly welcomed aboard, got settled into their suites, and then at 17:00 we met in The Theatre for a mandatory safety briefing. Expedition Leader Conrad Combrink introduced us to the safety systems and procedures on board the vessel. A bit later we reconvened in The Theatre for an introduction to some of the international crew and Expedition Team members, and then Conrad provided an overview of the ship, our journey, and use of the Zodiac boats.

In the spirit of expedition cruising, where flexibility in any itinerary is key to a trip’s success, we learned that we would not attempt to brave the English Channel tonight. The weather forecast called for high seas and very strong winds throughout tomorrow. So rather than risk not being able to land at Guernsey Island, an alternative plan was presented. Instead, the ship would travel west to Cornwall and the scenic port town of Fowey. Not only would this allow us to avoid the harsh weather of the English Channel, it would give us a chance to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan, historical Lanhydrock House, and strategically place us closer to the Scilly Isles for the following day, allowing us to perhaps even visit an additional island.

After enjoying cocktails and already beginning to make new friends, we enjoyed a delicious dinner in The Restaurant and a leisurely evening onboard. Around midnight the lines were cast and the Silversea expedition ship Prince Albert II made its way out of the harbour to begin our 11-day voyage.

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