Voyage Journal 7106 Day 21


Day 21 - March 23, 2011 - West of Cape Town, South Atlantic Ocean

By Luke Kenny, Fisheries Biologist

Co-ordinates: 34˚49.2’ S, 12˚06.4’ W
Weather: Bright and breezy
Air Temperature: 20 °C, 68 °F (12:00 hrs)
Sea Temperature: 21°C, 70 °F
Pressure: 1016.0 hPa
Wind: F4 from SSW

I kicked off today by lecturing the early risers about living on South Georgia. I freely admitted that this was no easy task, given the wealth of experiences I enjoyed there, and as such I resorted to documenting a handful of outstanding events that conveyed the essence and colour of life on a research station in the sub-Antarctic. I was still talking on the hour mark, when Robin our Expedition Leader announced on the public address system that a General Emergency drill was about to commence for all crewmembers, and as such I had to promptly wrap up proceedings and toe the line. These routine drills are vital, familiarising the crew with the appropriate responses in the unlikely event of an emergency situation.

After the drill was successfully completed, our Executive Chef Marcus hosted a fruit and vegetable carving demonstration, allowing all an insight into the methods of creating art from edibles. The results, which of course we witness on a daily basis at the lunch buffet, astound the eyes and almost suppress the appetite, for how could one bring oneself to destroy such art by eating. I stress the “almost,” for my appetite is a healthy one.

At lunch with guests, the conversation quickly settled on the afternoon’s upcoming documentary, an account of an attempt to cross the Northern Atlantic Ocean from New York to Europe on a vessel made out of reeds. The aim of the voyage was to offer the possibility that ancient man could well have made such arduous voyages, the emphasis being on the west to east direction, as most at my lunch table could recall the two attempts made by Thor Hayerdahl (the second of which was successful), in what were known as the Ra expeditions, in the opposite direction.

If the minds of certain guests were elsewhere during the documentary, they could easily have been forgiven, for 16:00 was zero hour. The Panorama Lounge was murmuring, full for the finals of the Team Trivia competition. Today would decide who were the champions of fact, the masters of multiple choice or those who diligently sat up and took notes in lectures, recaps or indeed in everyday events over the last year. Jarda, our Assistant Expedition Leader, who took the honours in opening the Team trivia competition at the start of the voyage, rather fittingly completed the series. Today’s topic was current affairs of 2010. Personally, I was lost in this round, for having lived on a relatively remote and isolated sub-Antarctic island for the last two years, I have somewhat missed out on many news events in the world at large.

The questions, though challenging, were better accepted than my fish trivia questions of yesterday, and the eight strong Anglo-American team ran out winners, closely followed by a four-strong British one. The prize? To commemorate the Tea-time slot that the Trivia occupies, a Silversea logo mug for each member of the winning team, not to mention bragging rights.

There wasn’t much time to lose, for at 17:00 was Part 2 of our digital recap of the voyage. Kristine Hannon has worked tirelessly for the past three weeks taking photographs and film footage to record every aspect of what has been a most memorable trip. All watched with mouths agape, as we remembered all those special landings we made on South Georgia and the events of Tristan da Cunha, and the sights and sounds we were fortunate enough to witness. The voyage took on a dreamlike reality; we have seen and lived so much that it seemed like an eternity ago that we boarded the good ship in Ushuaia and made our way down the Beagle Channel bound for adventure.

At the end of the showing, a navigational chart specially painted by our Spa Manager Mariannne Otto, was auctioned off in aid of the crew fund. This fund acknowledges the crew for their hard endeavours and rewards them with outings on shore and equipment in their mess area to enrich their working environment. The guests always rise to the occasion, more than willing to acknowledge the crew that make their stay such a pleasant one.

At 19:00 I returned to The Theatre for the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail party. Here, Captain Alexander Golubev marks the end of the trip by graciously recognizing both the crew and guest participation in the voyage. I joined four guests for dinner at The Restaurant, for tonight we were to be afforded the opportunity to sample potatoes grown in the Potato Patches of Tristan da Cunha, a prospect no Irishman could bear to miss; those very patches we had hiked out to see on our recent visit to the island.

Tomorrow I will see Cape Town for the first time, and bring to an end what I hope to be the first of many contracts on the Prince Albert II. To overuse the word, it has been a truly memorable time on board, and in every way a fitting end to this, my most recent visit to the Antarctic regions.