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Day 10 - September 6, 2009 - At Sea En Route To Hopedale Canada

By Claudia Holgate, Ornithologist

Co-ordinates: 56° 44’ 40” N 60° 00’ 00 W
Weather: Cool and overcast
Air Temperature: 8.86C (47.8F)
Pressure: 993hPa
Wind: 72km/h NE

Last night we turned the clocks forward by an hour resulting in us getting theoretically an hour less sleep, so it was fortunate that today was a day at sea, with no need to get up early.

Our day’s entertainment today was primarily the lecture programme from our group of specialist lecturers. The first lecture at 10am was by myself on climate change, a topic on which I am passionate and also one that I am doing a lot of research in. The lecture presents the information and conclusions from the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental panel on climate change, to allow our guests the opportunity of leaving the ship with a greater awareness of the climate change issue and what we as individuals can do about it. Although climate change is indeed a serious issue, I like to add a bit of humour and believe that the lecture was enjoyed by the guests.

Lunch was a festive occasion with the hotel department’s version of Fruhschoppen, the traditional German sausage fest. So together with traditional German music and beer, The Restaurant was turned into a toe tapping festival with many different sausages on offer, in addition to The Restaurant’s normal exceptional lunch fare.

The afternoon lecture programme was kicked off by our German naturalist, Hans-Peter, with a lecture on tundra plants of the Arctic, including many of the plants we have seen so far on our voyage. He also discussed the various adaptations that plants have developed to survive in such harsh landscapes.

The late afternoon was a lecture by Susan Langley entitled “From the Lonely Coast – Moravian Missions in Labrador”. The lecture was a provided fascinating insight into the Moravian Missions, which represent the oldest Protestant Episcopal church and sent missionaries to Labrador beginning in 1752. Many of these mission settlements are now ghost towns but several are still vibrant communities. These include Nain, Makkovik, and Hopedale, which we plan to visit tomorrow. The Moravian missionaries differed from many other faiths in that they worked with the communities and did not expect them to conform to European standards. All missionaries had to speak or learn Inuktitut and schools were not taught in English until 1879 when the numbers of European settlers in the area made it necessary. Although the Inuit, both men and women, played roles as Chapel servants since the first settlements, from the 1960s many of the ministers have been natives of Labrador. There are still about 2,500 Moravian church members in Labrador.

Finally, our day of lectures came to an end with the briefing on Hopedale tomorrow, a small town with just over 625 residents. The recap was entertaining as usual, with Susan giving a short explanation of the Labradorite stones found in the area, Rob giving a pre-cap on Killer Whales, which we are hoping to see as we come closer to Hopedale, and a short video clip on Ben Saunders who walked solo to the North Pole in 2003.

The day was capped off with another great meal in The Restaurant, and after-dinner drinks in the Panorama Lounge.

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