Saturday, December 28, 2013: Overview of the Expedition
After traveling for a year with Universal Travel Systems to tour the Caucasus and finish visiting all the UN countries in Africa; and Bestway Safari and Tours, to tour the Balkans; I rejoined traveling with Advantage Travel and Tours. On a tour arranged by Cathy and Bob Parda, I joined additional members of the Advantage Travel and Tours “family”; of Mike Bidwell, Marion Speno, Laurie Campbell and Bob Ihsen. In addition Del and Linda McCuen and Bob Ippolito joined the group. We started the tour with a voyage to the “Galapagos of the Southern Ocean”, for 13 days, starting on 30 December 2013 from Invercargill on the very southern tip of New Zealand and returned to the same port on 11 January 2014 on the Spirit of Enderby.
Heritage Expeditions describes the expedition as follows:
This is without doubt one of the most inspirational and informative journeys or expeditions into the Southern Ocean ecosystem that one can make. Long recognized for their rich biodiversity, the Sub Antarctic Islands lying to the south of New Zealand are UNESCO World Heritage sites. This places them in a select group of only 180 natural sites that have been designated as ‘the most important and significant natural habitats' on the planet. They are also afforded the highest conservation status and protection by the Australian and New Zealand governments and access to these islands is by permit only. On this expedition we offer you the unique chance to explore, photograph and understand these wonderful places in the company of some of the most knowledgeable and passionate guides.
As a young biologist, Heritage Expeditions founder Rodney Russ first visited these islands in 1972 with the New Zealand Wildlife Service. He organized New Zealand's first commercial expedition there in 1989, and 24 years and over 100 expeditions later, he is still as passionate about the islands as he was in 1972. It was only natural that his family should travel with him, what wasn't predictable was that they would join him in the business and be as passionate about the conservation of this region as he is. As the original concessionaire we enjoy good relationships with the conservation departments and some of the access permits we hold are unique to these expeditions.
The name we have given to this voyage 'Galapagos of the Southern Ocean' reflects the astounding natural biodiversity and the importance of these islands as a wildlife refuge. (The book Galapagos of the Antarctic written by Rodney Russ and Aleks Terauds and published by Heritage Expeditions describes all of these islands in great detail.) The islands all lie in the cool temperate zone with a unique climate and are home to a vast array of wildlife including albatross, penguins, petrels, prions, shearwaters and marine mammals like sea lions, fur seals and elephant seals. The flora is equally fascinating; the majority of it being like the birds and endemic to these islands.
This expedition includes four of the Sub Antarctic Islands, The Snares, Auckland's, Macquarie and Campbell. Each one is different and each one is unique, just like this expedition.
The ship “Spirit of Enderby” is described as follows:
The Spirit of Enderby is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for Expedition Travel.
She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in March 2013 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows or portholes and ample storage space.
On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room. The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top NZ and Australian chefs.
The real focus and emphasis of every expedition is getting you ashore as often as possible for as long as possible with maximum safety and comfort. Our Expeditions are accompanied by some of the most experienced naturalists and guides, who have devoted a lifetime to field research in the areas that we visit. The ship is crewed by a very enthusiastic and most experienced Russian Captain and crew.
The name Spirit of Enderby honors the work and the vision of the Enderby Brothers of London. The Enderby Captains were at the forefront of Antarctic exploration for almost 40 years in the early 1800s. It also celebrates Enderby Island, arguably the greatest Sub Antarctic Island in the world.
•Classification: Russian register KM ice class
•Year built: 1984
•Accommodation: 50 berths expedition
•Main engines: power 2x1560 bhp (2x 1147 Kw)
•Maximum speed: 12 knots (2 engines)
•Cruising speed: 10 knots(one engine)
•Bunker capacity: 320 tons
•Heritage Suite: Has a large lounge area, a separate bedroom with double bed, a single bed in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe, drawers. There is a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. There are large forward and side facing windows to allow great views.
•Mini Suites: Have a separate bedroom with a double bed and a single bed or a sofa in the lounge, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. The Mini Suites have windows.
•Superior Plus cabins: Have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, desk, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
•Superior cabins: Have bunks (an upper and lower berth), wardrobe, drawers, a desk, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
•Main deck cabins: Have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, a desk, washbasin and porthole. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins.
•Main deck triple: Has one bunk (one upper and one lower) and one lower berth, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and wash basin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins.
I was assigned cabin 312.
The Spirit of Enderby was built in Finland as a Russian oceanographic survey ship and is still registered in Vladivostok under her original name of Professor Khromov and has a mostly Russian crew. The ship is fully ice strengthened for use in Arctic and Antarctic waters. Renamed Spirit of Enderby by Heritage expeditions, who lease the ship, it was fully refurbished in 2009 and has accommodation for up to 50 passengers in a mixture of suites and cabins, many with private facilities. There is an open bridge and deck policy and public areas including a dining room, lecture theatre, bar, lounge and library, small hospital and sauna.
The following was the scheduled route:
Saturday, December 28, 2013: Begin travel
On Friday I returned from a week in Sacramento celebrating Christmas with my oldest daughter, Wendy and 9 year old Christine. It was Christine’s first Christmas not believing in Santa Claus so the presents were not as surprising as on the last few Christmases with her.
Saturday was hectic with last minute shopping and packing for the trip. I decided to purchase some high top rubber boots for the wading ashore from the zodiacs on landings without docks. While I was at it I also purchased a pair of hiking shoes for the walks across marshy soil. The purchase of the two items caused me to change suitcases because the length of the boots would not fit in the suitcase I packed my warm weather gear in. My plan was to ship that case back to the US at the end of the cruise and pack the clothes and items I need on the warmer island tours in my regular bag.
The last minute rearranging of bags and re-reading the details of the trip caused me to not be fully ready for dinner before my car service was scheduled to pick me up at 18:00. I finished dinner at 17:45 and had my checked bags packed and available to load at 18:00 but I still needed to dress and pack my carry-on bag. Because I couldn’t have anything in my pockets for the TSA check I dumped all the things I normally carry in my pockets in a day pack.
When I got in the car to leave I ran my check list and insured I had my passport, airline tickets, cell phone and wallet. Opps! I couldn’t find my wallet. I ran back in the house and checked all around the bed where I had swept everything loose into my day pack. It wasn’t there so I returned to the car and brought my day pack back in the house in the light and dumped everything on the dining room table. It was there stuck to the hand wipes packet.
As I returned to get in the car the car service called to inform me that they were charging me a penalty of $10 for holding the driver over fifteen minutes. Since he was the one that called to inform the service, he just blew his tip which is why I was looking for the wallet in the first place to get out his tip.
There was a couple of wreaks on the highway and the driver took a longer route to the airport than I and other drivers take so that the normal 45 minute drive took an hour.
Air New Zealand has its own terminal entrance at LAX and right inside the door was the Star Alliance Gold desk so even though I was manipulating three wheeled bags I had a short distance to the check in desk. No one was in line so the process was quick. The TSA line was a little longer but they had a full body scanner working so that check also was rather quick.
Air New Zealand’s Star Alliance lounge was upstairs in the terminal next to the Air Canada lounge that I had used so many times in the past when I worked for SHL Systemhouse in Canada. It was a big lounge with a full meal service. I checked email, called Wendy and Judy. The lounge patrons have a dedicated gate and when time came for the flight to be boarded we were lead to the dedicated gate and I was one of the first to reach my seat in the middle section of the aircraft.
I was assigned a middle aisle on the right side of the aircraft. On the left side of my row of four seats a couple from the lounge settled in. We remarked that we hoped the seat next to me would remain open. Just as the closed the door a heavy set young man came down the aisle and sat in that vacant seat. I was not looking forward to a 13 hour cramped flight when they closed the door and I saw that the seat in front of me was vacant. I and along with the man on his left encouraged the young man to move up to the vacant seat leaving the seat next to me vacant again and a sigh of relieve from the two of us.
Sunday, December 29, 2013: En route crossing the International Date Line
It was an uneventful flight and since the time zones were not that different (just the days), almost everyone slept on the flight.
Monday, December 30, 2013: Arrive Invercargill, NZ via Auckland and Christchurch, NZ
We landed in Auckland rested on Monday at 06:45 (09:45 California time). When we exited the aircraft my side of the plane was slow to exit and since my colleague, Bob Ihsen was on the left side and that line moved faster than my line I assumed that Bob had exited the aircraft. It was a long walk to the Immigration Control area and I walked briskly to try to catch Bob. I didn’t see him and at Immigration Control they had a special line for Global Entry so I was able to process rather quickly.
At the baggage claim area I still had not seen Bob. There was a little confusion at the carousels. The signage all said our flight’s bags were to be delivered on carousel number 4. After twenty minutes from landing very few bags had arrived. The planes’ flight attendants arrived and were anointed that their bags were not on the carousel. One of them told the group that she was going to find out why there was a delay. She returned in just a few minutes to report that the bags from our flight were on another carousel.
I retrieved my bags and proceeded to take a fifteen minute walk to the domestic terminal where I dropped my bags for the next flights. I five hours before my flight to Christchurch so I went to the Star Alliance lounge and setup my laptop and charged my smart phone. I was able to call Judy using Vonage.
Bob and Cathy Parda arrived with Bob Ihsen. Bob told me that he was delayed leaving the plane because people right in front of him took a long time retrieving their bags from the overhead. The resulted in the people on the left side in front of the bottle neck exited ahead of me leaving the impression that all the people on the left had exited. Bob and` Cathy had flown in a day earlier and stayed at an Auckland hotel near the airport. When they checked in and were on their way to the lounge they saw Bob and invited him as their guest to wait in the lounge. By the time they arrived I had finished processing my emails and written in my journal and packed away my laptop.
Our flight to Christchurch left on time and took only an hour. We had an hour and one half for the flight to Invercargill which we spent in the Air New Zealand lounge. The last leg was on an ATR and we walked to the plane. It also was a one hour flight.
At Invercargill we took a van to the hotel. At the hotel I was assigned to a room with the George Gornacz, the gentleman that would be my roommate on the ship. George was a semi-retired Radiologist from Australia and was tacking this trip for the third time.
The hotel had Wi-Fi for a fee. I purchased a block of time and called Judy on Vonage to let her know I had safely arrived with my entire luggage.
Heritage Expeditions hosted a buffet dinner in the hotel restaurant. It was nice to see Laurie and Marion again and to meet Bob Ippolito. Del and Linda McCuen whom I met at a Traveler’s Century Club were also there.
We were introduced by Nathan Russ, son of Rodney Russ, the founder of Heritage Expeditions and the Expedition Leader for our cruise, to several of expedition’s staff:
· Agnes Breniere, the Cruise Director, from France
· Samuel Blanc, Lecturer, from France
Nathan then gave a talk on the expedition and the plan for the next day.
After diner I retired to my room for the night.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013: Cruise on the Spirit of Enderby
The plan for Tuesday was to have a buffet breakfast and then have our luggage in the lobby by 09:00 to be checked, tagged with our cabin number (George and I were assigned cabin 321), and the loaded in a truck to the ship.
After all the luggage was processed, Samuel led us to the Southland Museum and Art Gallery. There we were given a tour by the Museum Curator. He was very proud of the museum’s Tuatara lizard, and spent about twenty minutes talking about the lizards and Henry, who had been a very aggressive Tuatara until a cancerous tumor was discovered and removed in 2002. It is believed that the species live over 100 years. I got a little bored with his talk and left the group with Bob Ihsen and strolled around the gardens in back of the museum. I returned when the guide lead the group to the second floor where there were displays about the history of the islands we would visit on the cruise. The Southern Ocean had many ship wrecks and there were displays about the most notable ones.
In one room there was a display of The World’s Fastest Indian and the Bonneville, Salt Flats. I remembered that in the 2005 movie the main character played by Anthony Hopkins was from New Zealand by I didn’t remember that he was from Invercargill.
When I felt that I had seen all I wanted in the museum, I left to walk back to the hotel. Along the way I walked through a mall that had the actual The World’s Fastest Indian motorcycle on display and information about the movie.
As I left the mall I stopped in a sporting goods store and bought a water proof day pack for 22.99 NZ dollars.
Lunch was served for the passengers in the hotel and then we boarded a bus for the transfer to the Port of Otago where we boarded the Spirit of Enderby. I sat in the back row of the bus and the ship’s doctor, John Moodie sat next to me. We had a great conversation about my experience in New Zealand in the 1980’s and about his role as a non-speaking extra “Hobbitt” in the first Hobbitt movie. Despite long hours on the set in the film he can see himself in the background of a just a few scenes. He lives about 15 miles from the site where the Hobbitt village was constructed for the movie and is now a tourist attraction. I told him that I had seen the latest film which he was not in because the village was not part of the movie. This trip was his fourth expedition.
Having sat on the last row of the bus I was the last to board the ship. George was waiting in the cabin to determine which bunk I would take to accommodate my CPAP machine. There was just one electrical out let in the room and that was at the right side of the desk. I decided it would be best if I took the bunk along that wall so as not to string the extension cord across the cabin but rather along the wall and under the mattress to the bunk’s pillow where I would have the machine wedged between the mattress and the wall. That worked out very well and my power strip would then reside on the desk where I could plug in my laptop and camera battery charger. The cabin had plenty of storage drawers and a large area under the bed to store my luggage. I am glad I brought some extra hangers because there was a shortage in the closet.
We had a sink with a small medicine cabinet but we had to share three toilets, a shower and two toilet shower combinations across the hall with the others on our deck.
As we departed Port Bluff Rodney Russ called us to the Lecturer Room on the 2nd deck for an “Introduction to the Auckland Islands” briefing. He then told us of his passion of wild life and his book which he titled The Galapagos of the Southern Ocean.
He then introduced the staff:
· Agnes Breniere, who we had met at the hotel
· Samuel Blanc, who we met at the hotel
· Marcus Richards, Lecturer, from New Zealand
· Katya Ovsyanikova, Lecturer from Russia
· Bruce Thomason, Chef
· Michael Harris, Chef
· John Moodie, Medical Advisor
Rodney then went into more detail on the expedition itinerary than his son had provided in the hotel.
At 16:00 we left the port and at 17:00 the pilot departed the ship. Bob and Cathy invited the Advantage Travel group to their cabin at 18:30 where we celebrated Robert Ippolito’s birthday and New Year’s Eve. Cathy had bought a number balloons, horns and goofy masks for the festive occasion.
I learned that Robert Ippolito was a retired USAF Chaplin and was stationed at many of the same bases I was stationed at but ten years after me. Rodney Russ and two ladies from the next cabin (Rosemary Lovell and Helen Gascoine) heard our revelry and joined the party. We had them take photos of the group to send to the Travelers’ Century Club (TCC) newsletter. Robert volunteered to write an article on the expedition for TCC.
We had a delicious diner followed by Robert’s birthday cake.
The ship was rocking and rolling as it passed south through the “roaring 40s” which is known for rough weather. None of us stayed up to mid-night to welcome the New Year.
Wednesday, January 01, 2014: Snares Islands to Enderby Island
I did not sleep soundly through the night as I discovered that we hadn’t secured everything in the room and I was wakened several times by items falling off the desk, doors swinging open and shut and items sliding across the cabin. The bunks in our cabin were situated facing starboard so the roll of the ship affected us more than the pitch.
We set anchor at North East Island, the largest of The Snares Islands. The island is claimed by some to be home to more nesting seabirds than all of the British Isles together.
The activity for the day was Zodiac cruising along the rugged coastline. Each passenger was assigned a number and the first thirty were scheduled to take the first Zodiac cruise. My number was 42 so I had to wait an hour for the Zodiacs to return. I dresses warmly and wore my gumboots although there was no scheduled landing.
There were three Zodiacs in operation. Mine was driven by Katya. She drove us close to a rocky area populated with Snares Crested Penguins. On the way we passed by a number of Snares Crested Penguins swimming. Some came very close to the Zodiac. When we reached the rocky area we loitered there for a while taking photos and just watching the penguins waddling around the rocky area. At the top of the rocky area we saw a New Zealand Fur Seal in a majestic pose like he was the king of the domain.
We then moved over to another colony of Snares Crested Penguins perched on a rocky area below the trees. Snares Crested Penguins breed and nest among the trees and there was a steady stream of Snares Crested Penguins waddling in and out of a path in the trees.
Moving on we encountered more Sea Lions lying on the rocks and a variety of birds such as the Cape Petrel and Buller’s Albatross on the imposing cliffs. We are also encounter Antarctic Terns, White-fronted Terns, Red-billed Gulls, Tomtits and Fernbirds.
As our time to return to the ship we rode through a cave opened at two ends to the sea which provided a nice frame of the ship.
We had lunch at 13:00 and at 16:00 Rodney gave us talk on “Introduction to the Auckland Islands”. His talk was followed by a “Quarantine Briefing”. As Rodney told us we would be visiting near pristine islands. To ensure that they stay that way the visiting Expeditions and cruise ships enforce strict quarantine measures which required we thoroughly clean our clothing, back packs, shoes, gumboots and any items we take ashore to ride them of any seeds that could be introduced on the islands. A vacuum cleaner was made available to remove seeds from our objects. Gumboots and walking shoes needed to be scrubbed and dipped in a special liquid. The boot cleaning station was setup on the forth deck and we were instructed to turn our tag number over and then exit the cabin area of the ship through the door opposite to the gangway and then walk around the ship stopping at the boot cleaning station prior to reaching the gangway.
After the briefing I carried my laptop to the Bar/Library and sent Judy and email with the instructions on how she could email me.
We had dinner at 19:30 and I retired to my cabin, wrote in my journal and retired.
Thursday, January 02, 2014: Enderby Island within the Auckland Islands
The ship arrived at the sheltered waters of Port Ross, Auckland Islands at approximately 03:00. I was deep in sleep when I awoke as they dropped anchor. In just a few minutes I fell back to sleep until my alarm woke me at 06:00. I then took a shower in the shared shower room and then dressed for a Zodiac ride.
We had an early breakfast at 06:30 followed by an Enderby Island briefing by Rodney. At 07:30 Rodney briefed us on the day’s activity on shore. We were given four options. The first was to stay on board the ship, the second was to go ashore and hang around the landing point where there was a colony of penguins and a large heard of seals and sea lions. The third option was to walk around the island to an Albatross breeding grounds and the forth was to cross the island and then walk 4 miles around the edge of the island.
Rodney told us the island was named for the same distinguished shipping family as the vessel was named. He described it as one of the most beautiful islands in the group and a great birding location and a chance to see everything from the famous Southern Royal Albatross and Northern Giant Petrel to parakeets, Bellbirds and the endemic shag, teal and snipe. Sandy Bay where we landed was one of three breeding grounds on the Auckland Islands for the rare Hooker’s or New Zealand Sea Lion. Enderby Island is part of the Auckland Islands archipelago in New Zealand. I t is situated just off the northern tip of Auckland Island, the largest island in the archipelago.
After the briefing we return to the dining hall where with help from the cooks we made-up a lunch to take ashore for the eight hours we would spend ashore.
At 09:00 we were ferried by Zodiacs to the landing point where there was a small hut where we could change into our walking shoes and store our gumboots. I was on the last wave of passengers to be ferried ashore. Our Zodiac was greeted by numerous New Zealand Sea Lions as we wadded across the beach to the hut. Once everyone arrived deposited our life vest in a bin and changed into walking shoes we set out on the walk. It was an easy one hour walk on wooden platforms through the trees and across streams and through an open area. At one point we were asked to exit the board walk and walk through the tuffs of grass to avoid an Albatross nesting next to the wooden walk way. It had started to rain very lightly and when I had to exit into the grass my feet got tangled in the grass and I fell over. With a backpack on and the grass wet from the rain I had a difficult time getting back on my feet. Finally someone walking behind me helped me regain my footing and as I started out again I got caught up in the grass again but I was able to stabilize without falling. I was not happy so I returned to the boardwalk and walked quietly past the Albatross. The falling down was an omen on the future events of the day.
When reached the north side of the island we stopped to take pictures and rest a bit. At this point I was disappointed because we had seen very little wild life and I was tempted to return to the beach and concentrate on getting good photos of the penguin colony and sea lions, but foolishly I started out on the 4 mile walk around the island.
At first it was an easy walk along the edge of the cliffs across squishy grass. It then got a little more difficult as we hand to cross a number of streams. I fell several times descending miniature bluffs down to the stream and/or climbing out of the gully on the other side.
I was walking alone between a group that had started out before I did and a group that was stopping to take pictures of the vegetation and flowers.
After several miles I was getting discouraged trying to maintain balance in the wet tuffs of grass that were as high as my waist and finding places to cross the numerous streams. I started move more away from the cliff edge up to the tree line looking for a path that would cross the streams where they was narrow.
I came upon ground cover that appeared to allow me to walk between the trees across a point of land. The ground cover was very buoyant and was holding my weight right up to the trees when it gave way and I discovered that I had been walking on Myrsine Divaricata plants that formed a thick canopy 3 or 4 feet above solid ground. The Myrsine Divaricata is a shrub that grows up to 450 meters. It has weeping branches which inter twine to provide the strength to hold my weight in many areas. Walking on the shrub was like walking on a trampoline. I was bounce around trying to find the opening between the trees. Most of the trees had low branches which prohibited walking through them.
Eventually I stepped on a weak spot and crashed through to the ground trapping me. I couldn’t get back to standing up and bounce my way toward the coast. After a bit of time surveying my options I was able to break a branch off a dead tree and used it to boost myself out of my trap and lay down on the shrub.
I proceeded to crawl on my belly across the shrubs along the tree line toward the coast. At one point I saw a path through the trees and as I looked at it the shrub broke down spilling me under the tree. Rather than attempt to get back on top of the shrubs I decided to slide down the path in the trees. I was two thirds of the way when I encountered a branch across the path that stopped my slide. Using the dead limb, I was able leverage the branch enough for me to slide under it. In the process of squeezing under the branch my hat and sunglasses were ripped off my head and I had a heck of a time pulling myself back up the path to retrieve them.
When I reached the end the path I was able to get up in a patch of tussock grass and heard voices. A few yards away were my cabin mate, George and Katya. I immerged out of the tall tussock grass and surprised them. I had been trapped for two hours and the group had passed by along the edge of the cliffs and Katya was the rear guide. I must have looked like hell! I was soaking wet so Katya asked me to hand her my parker and back pack which she could put in her large backpack.
We soon walked out of the tussock grass to a spot where we ate lunch and rested for a few minutes before proceeding. When I went to get my lunch from the back pack I found that the zipper had separated and even though the pulls from each side were together at the midway point both sides of the zipper was open. At that time I realized my smart phone was missing. It had been in my back pack and when I was sliding down the path under the trees it must have been ripped out like my hat and sunglasses had as I squeezed under low tree limbs. It was too late to go back and look for it and it would be very difficult to find where I had slid down the path under the trees anyway.
We came upon the forest that grew right down to the cliffs so we had to make our way through the forest. The trees in the forest where significantly larger than the ones I had slid down the path through allowing us to walk through them. The outer edge of the forest had a row of dead trees and I broke off a branch to use as a walking stick.
When we traversed the trees and entered an open area George was taking a lot of pictures so Katya told me to walk ahead and see if I could catch up to Marcus’ group. I walked on through tussock up to my chest and occasionally stumbled as the grass caught my shoes. It was very frustrating to walk through. On several occasions I came close to stepping on a sea lion hidden in the tussock grass.
When I caught up to Marcus he tried to lead the way but had as much trouble as I had crossing the streams. His group was taking a lot of pictures so soon Katya caught up to us and she knew where the easy crossings were. At one point Rodney driving a Zodiac toward us and asked Katya if any of the remaining group wanted ride back to the hut. We all declined since I knew that we had to walk by a group of penguins which I hoped would enable me to take some good photos. We walked on and I was able to get some photos of penguins near the beach.
At the hut I changed back into my gumboots although my walking shoes were very wet. I was on the last Zodiacs at 17:00 to return to the ship with passengers. I had been ashore for eight hours with two hours struggling to get out of the Myrsine Divaricata shrub and trees.
Back on board the ship I found that all my clothes, hat, shoes and socks were soaking wet. I shed them hung them on a railing in the hall across from my cabin and then took a shower. I was exhausted and the shower felt good.
I checked email and learned that after over four months the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LA DWP) finally turned on my solar electricity. We had signed up for it in August. The panels were not installed until late November and then after a series of inspections they approved the installation and system.
I napped before the late (20:00) dinner. After dinner I retired to my cabin and went to bed.
Friday, January 03, 2014: Carnley Harbor, Auckland Islands
The ship dropped anchor in Carnley Harbor at 07:00 which was four hours transit from our mooring at Enderby Island. At breakfast most of the group appeared and reported that they had slept soundly until 03:00 when the ship started up for the cruise to the Harbor. Cathy was the only no show. Bob told us the she had not slept well during the transit and then fallen asleep when the ship dropped anchor and he didn’t wake her for breakfast at 07:30.
At 08:30 Rodney briefed us on the day’s activities. He drew a map of the harbor on the white board and marked were the Zodiacs would land and cruise around the harbor. The first landing was to see what was left of “Grafton” and the huts the crew built and stayed in for 18 months before being rescued.
There were no penguin colonies to visit in the harbor so I elected to stay on board and clean my clothes, write in my journal and try to get over the depression as a result of my losing my smart phone. It was like losing a part of my brain. I rely on the knowledge of people, places and things stored on the phone.
The ships laundry had a fast turnaround but I could tell they didn’t spot the dirt and grass stains on my clothes that I picked up on my slide under the trees. They at least smelled clean.
When the travelers returned Agnes called out the numbers of the tags that were still read. She did that several times until only one number was red. She then knocked on my cabin and asked if my cabin mate had returned. I had not seen him and suggested that she check the boot cleaning station. Next she called out his name and after a few minutes returned to our cabin. When I reported that he still had not arrived she called Rodney to inform him that George had been left ashore.
Through their binoculars they saw him on the beach and cruised back to pick him up. George has a fascination with the woods and was taking pictures in the woods when the Zodiac left his area. Anyway he was back before lunch at 12:30.
At 16:00 we had a lecture by Marcus on “Geology and Biogeography of the Sub Antarctic Islands. He pointed out that Macquarie Island is one of only four islands in the world created by the collision of two plates and where the mid-ocean crustal rocks are exposed at the surface. The collision squeezed out an elongated island 34 km in length and only 5 km wide. Marcus described how the plates move and how the rare event created Macquarie Island. The significance for geologist is that they can study the composition and structure of the oceanic crust without having to dredge or drill at the bottom of the ocean. Only Cyprus, Newfoundland and Oman were formed in similar fashion by their rock sequences are often fused with continental rocks.
Marcus is the youngest member of the staff and his presentation skills were not as good as the other staff lecturers.
The ship had raised anchor after lunch and was rocking and rolling at dinner time. I took one look at the appetizer of black mushrooms and I lost my appetite and returned to my room.
Saturday, January 04, 2014: At Sea
Because it was a full day at sea with the estimated time to reach our next destination of Macquarie Island at mid-night they scheduled a late breakfast at 08:30. I slept very soundly until about 05:30 when something banged and woke me up. I then returned to sleep and slept lightly until 07:30 when I got up and took a shower and shaved. The movement of the ship made taking a shower a challenge. On most ships I have sailed on the shower stall was rather small and I could lean against a side and lather up. The shower I used on the Spirit of Enderby was a large area with only one large grab bar on the Starboard side and a small handle on the stern side near the faucet. This made it difficult when the ship rolled to the port side. To compound the situation the shower curtain would slide back and forth exposing my clothes and towel to the shower spray. I eventually finished and returned to my cabin to get dressed for breakfast.
My patch came off in the shower and it had completed its three days of effectiveness so I applied a new patch by my left ear.
Robert, Bob and I were one of the first to get our breakfast. The McCuen’s joined us and Laurie sat with us but didn’t eat anything. The Parda’s eventually joined us but Marion and Mike were no shows.
At 10:00 we attended a lecture by Samuel on “Sea Birds of the Southern Ocean”. The presentation was very well organized with excellent pictures and descriptions. It was a very professional presentation.
At noon Katya gave a presentation on “Cetaceans of the Southern Ocean” which was also very well organized with excellent pictures and descriptions. It also was a very professional presentation.
Lunch followed Katya’s presentation and then at 14:30 Rodney briefed us on “An Introduction to Macquarie Island” it was also a very professional presentation.
Robert Ippolito conducted an Interdenominational Eucharist Service which most of our group attended. After the service I stopped by Bob and Cathy’s cabin to discuss the itinerary on the April tour to Sri Lanka, Maldives and Western India. Mike was there and discussed a Trans Siberia railroad trip that they had just gotten a flyer on. Mike took me up the Communications room where he was sending and receiving emails. Earlier he had seen that I had two emails from Judy. Both of which I had seen when I hooked up my laptop to check email.
The Bar opened at 18:30 and dinner was served at 19:30.
Sunday, January 05, 2014: Sandy Bay, Macquarie Island, Australia
We cruised into Australian territory which had a two hour earlier time difference. The ship’s clock stayed on New Zealand time but the activities ashore needed to be coordinated with Island’s staff on their time. So, breakfast was not served until 08:30. At 09:00 Rodney took a Zodiac ashore to pick-up the island’s rangers. The ship then cruised to Sandy Bay.
At 09:45 we all gathered in the Lecture room to get a briefing on visiting Sandy Bay. Rodney drew a map on the white board and marked were the Royal Penguins colony was located and were the King Penguins colony were located. He then described the boundaries of the area we could walk. On the south side was a stream which we were not to cross and on the north side the rangers laid down a rope on the edge of the King Penguin colony. At the edge of the stream he indicated that there was a wooden walkway that leads to the Royal Penguin colony. We were told that a number of rangers would be stationed on the beach to guide us and answer out questions.
Chris, the local ranger also briefed us on the different personalities of the two penguin species and the Sea Lions. He described the island as “One of the wonder spots of the world”. Informing us that this is the only place in the world where the beautiful Royal Penguin breeds. Three other species of penguins, the King, Gentoo and Rockhopper also breed on the island but we would not see the Gentoo and Rockhopper at Sandy Bay. He described the hundreds of Southern Elephant Seals lolling on the beaches and dunes that we will encounter on Sandy Bay’s beach.
Chris also talked about the success of the ratification of the rabbits that used to run wild and destroy the tussock grass. He told us that one of the island’s staff would be on the beach with two dogs that are trained to hunt rabbits. He noted that no rabbit has been found during the past year so they hope they have been eliminated.
After the meeting I returned to my cabin and got dressed to go ashore. I took my glasses off to rub sun screen on my face and forgot to them on until I was about to enter the gang way. I ended up on the last Zodiac to the beach. Katya was driving and we passed by many clusters on penguins in the water. When we approached the landing point, where Rodney was waiting, a big Southern Elephant Seal popped up in front of him. We had to drift for a minute for the seal to move out of our way.
It was a wet landing and since there was no long walk we were advised to just wear our gumboots. I was wearing my yellow water proof pants that I had worn in South Georgia. Mike calls them “Fisherman Gordon’s” pants from the advertisement.
I waded ashore and was greeted by two little dogs and their handler. They were mixed breeds and small enough to be carried in a Sherpa Bag. I walked south on the beach taking many photos to the stairs up to the boardwalk that led to the Royal Penguin breeding grounds. Along the way I saw the destruction the rabbits caused by eating the grass. At the end of the boardwalk there was a viewing platform overlooking the Royal Penguin breeding ground. The Ranger stationed on the platform told us that 1.5 million Royal Penguins breed in the area we were observing. The noise was almost deafening. I watched the activity for a while and took my pictures. I then walked back to the beach and crossed by the heard of Southern Elephant Seals to the King Penguin colony. After a while taking pictures there I walked back to the beach and found that the first Zodiac to take passengers back to the ship was about to leave. My camera’s battery was about to fail so I grabbed a life vest and joined the group that included Bob and Cathy, Linda and Del, Marion and Robert leaving for the ship.
Lunch was served at 14:30 so that everyone could be shuttled back to the ship. After lunch they started the trips back to Sandy Bay. As much as I liked Sandy Bay with its two large colonies of penguins I decided not to go back on the afternoon shuttle.
I wrote in my journal and set up my iPod to listen to music before the bar opened. The bar was crowded with the Ranger staff on board. We engaged them in conversation and learned a little more about the stations operation and day to activities.
Dinner was served at 20:00 and after dinner I retired to my cabin and went to bed by 22:00.
Monday, January 06, 2014: Lusitania Bay and Buckles Bay Macquarie Island
I had a good night’s sleep. The ship did not rock and roll. At 05:00 I awoke briefly and then returned to a deep sleep which was broken at 06:45 by an announcement by Rodney informing us that the ship had moved to Lusitania Bay where there was the largest King Penguin colony on the island. Rodney was providing us with the opportunity to take a Zodiac ride along the beach. There were so many penguins on the beach there was not room to land and walk around.
I decided to take the ride. When it was my turn to board the Zodiac I climbed down the gangway and was standing on the platform to board the Zodiac a large swell hit the platform and filled my right boot with water. My left leg was on the Zodiac and I was split as the swell had moved the Zodiac away from the platform and it was moving away. Since my right boot was full of water I couldn’t move it on to the Zodiac quickly. Samuel and the deckhand on the Zodiac garbed my out stretched arms and pulled me into the Zodiac in a not very graceful operation and I tumbled into the Zodiac. It was difficult for me to get up and sit on the side of the Zodiac but with help from those on board I finally was able to get up and sit on the side of the Zodiac. I didn’t try to remove my gumboot to empty the water and left it full of water from the short ride along the beach.
On the way to the beach we saw a lot of King Penguins swimming and a flock of Southern Giant petrel birds. At one point we passed by a dead penguin floating on its back and a ring of petrels were feeding on the corps.
The large number of penguins in the colony was an impressive site. In the middle of the colony were three rusty tanks that were used at one time to pressure cook penguins to extract their oil. After cruising up and down the Bay we returned to the ship for breakfast. The sea was a lot smoother at the gangway and I exited the Zodiac without any trouble.
I still had a boot full of water so I removed my boots in the shower. My left boot was dry but water poured out of my right boot. I had not worn boot socks but I had worn thermal underwear and the right pants leg needed to be squeezed dry. Shedding the thermal underwear pants I went to breakfast without socks and just normal under pants under my Gore-Tex pants.
At 09:30 Rodney briefed us on the landing at Buckles Bay. It was the site of the ranger station and had boundaries around the area we were permitted to go. In addition each ten passengers would be assigned a local guide to lead us around the area and explain what we observed and answered our questions.
At 10:00 they started ferrying passengers to the Bay. Even though we would due a fair amount of walking Rodney told us it would be best if we just wore our gumboots and not take walking shoes. I wore my boot socks (a light pair under a heavy pair), Gore-Tex pants without the thermal pants, my regular underwear and my thermal shirt and parka.
My boarding the Zodiac went a lot smoother than the morning boarding. At the beach the group in my Zodiac was assigned to Tony, the site’s communication manager. He started us off by climbing the stairs on the south boundary of our permitted to visit area. At the top was an observation point where we had an excellent view of the isthmus and the beach on both the east and west side and the ranger station.
We then walked down the stairs to the beach and then between two hills to the west side beach where the Gentoo Penguin’s had their colony. It was not as dense as the Royal Penguins and King Penguin colonies that we had visited earlier but they were cute to watch and photograph. Inter mixed with the penguins were Southern Elephant seals. Right on the water’s edge I was able to take photos of two of the seals wrestling.
We walked toward the Ranger buildings and passed two other seals going at. They appeared to trying to bit each other but they would back off, laydown, rest a few minutes and then raise up again and go at it. We arrived at the weather station in time to see the daily weather balloon launched. The weather man then showed us the little sensor attached to the balloon that transmits weather readings back to the ground.
Once the balloon was launched we returned to the west side beach to see the Antarctic Tern in a hill of rocks. Along the way we bothered a sleeping New Zealand Fur seal and he got a little aggressive and started to approach our group. We gave it a wide berth and moved on.
The next stop was the station dining hall where we had tea and scones with jam and cream. While we were there they showed us a video of the station personnel dancing and playing air guitar to sound of rock song.
After the tea we continued on the tour and Tony described the functions of each building. Near the point we had landed he lead us on a boardwalk to a platform that over looked rusty tanks. A display board described the use of the tanks as pressure cookers to produce penguin oil. I just can think that men would kill the cute little innocent creatures for oil.
That was the last stop on our shore excursion. We boarded a Zodiac driven by Katya. I got a boot full of water as I was boarding the Zodiac. It was not my lucky day. Katya drove us to a Rockhopper Penguin colony on the rocks north of the Ranger station. Unfortunately we could not get too close but I could see where they got their name as the hopped around the rocky cliff. They were smaller than the Gentoo, Royal and King penguins. Surprising us was a New Zealand Fur Seal among the rocks. I would have loved to see how he climbed to his perch.
Returning to the ship I had an uneventful exit from the Zodiac. It was time for lunch and I shed my gumboots and socks in the shower to dump the water and wore my sandals without socks to lunch. The served salad and spaghetti with a delicious meat sauce.
After lunch I showered and shaved before we watched a documentary on the eradication of rats, mice and rabbits on Macquarie Island. It was very interesting. They provided a free DVD of the documentary for each passenger.
After the show I returned to my cabin and wrote in my journal until 18:00 when I went up to the bar. Mike told me that I had an email so I returned to my cabin and carried my laptop back to the bar to get the message.
It was Bob Parda’s birthday and Cathy invited us to their cabin at 19:15 to celebrate before dinner. It was a nice little party with wine and snacks. At 20:00 we went to dinner. Cathy had arrange to have the chefs bake a cake and we had a double dessert with a piece of Bob’s birthday cake and regular dessert which was a small scoop of ice cream in a bowl of berries.
After dinner I retired to my room and went to bed.
Tuesday, January 07, 2014: At Sea
Despite the ‘rocking and rolling’ I had a sound sleep awaking only once when George opened the door to the hall. Initially at breakfast only Robert Ippolito, Bob Ihsen, Laurie and the McCuen’s were there. The Parda’s arrived after the McCuen’s had left. Mike and Marion didn’t appear.
At 10:00 Samuel gave a presentation on ‘Penguins’. He again gave a very well organized professional presentation. I had seen other presentations on penguins in the past but Samuel’s was the best in explaining where the different species were located. He had excellent pictures.
After a thirty minute break Dr. John gave a presentation on ‘Shipwrecks of the Sub Antarctic Islands’. The presentation was not as polished as Samuel’s and some of his pictures and stories were repeats of what was on display at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery that we had visited in Invercargill.
We then had a period before lunch. I updated my journal and checked my email.
After lunch we had a lecture by Katya on “Pinnipeds of the Southern Ocean”. It was another excellent very informative and professional presentation. She started by defining the word “pinnipeds” from the Latin pinna, wing or fin, and ped, foot or fin-footed marine mammals. The presentation defined three families of Pinnipeds: True Seals = Phocids with 19 species; Eared Seals = Otariids with 14 species and Walrus with its own species. She concentrated on discussing the Seals of the Southern Ocean that we had seen or will see during our expedition.
The last presentation of the day was on Campbell Island. Rodney gave us the history of the island when it was founded and various settlements that were made on the island. The island was first used for whaling and fur seals like the other Sub Antarctic islands we visited but when that was stopped an attempt to farm and raise sheep and cattle were made. The cost of transporting the wool produced and supplies resulted in the effort being abounded in the 1930s leaving sheep and cows to fend for themselves for several decades until they were finally eradicated. A successful eradication of cats, rats and mice was made. Currently there are no one living on the island.
After dinner the five of us (Laurie, Bob Ihsen, Linda and Del) continuing on to Cocos and Christmas Islands were invited to Bob and Cathy’s cabin to see their photos taken last year when they visited the islands. I then retired for the night.
Wednesday, January 08, 2014: Campbell Island
The ship arrived in Perseverance Harbor, Campbell Island at 03:30. There was a little jolt that woke me up as it rounded the point before dropping anchor in the calm harbor. It was easy to go back to sleep with no more motion.
We had an early breakfast at 07:30 followed by a briefing by Rodney on the day’s plan. He gave us three options. Option one was to go ashore after making your own lunch for a 12km walk across the hills to Northwest Bay on the other side of the island and see the strange and beautiful megaherbs growing on the hills and back to the harbor. The trail would be well marked through tussock grass. The second option was to take a Zodiac ride around the harbor, going ashore at Tucker Cove, site of the homestead, and at Camp Cove, site of the Sitka Spruce tree (the loneliest tree in the world) then returning to the ship for lunch. After lunch return for a dry landing and walk on a board walk to Col Lyall to the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross. The third option was to stay on board.
I chose the second option and was in the first Zodiac along with Marian, Bob Ihsen, and Robert Ippolito, driven my Katya. We departed at 10:00 and rode to Tucker Cove. I am glad I had purchased the highest gumboots because the water was up to my calf when we beached at the cove. There was a stream hidden by tussock grass that we had to cross to get to an old rusty stove, the last remains of the homestead. It is hard to imagine that there were no remains of buildings or other items except the stove. There had to be an untold story about it. Anyway, it was something to take a picture of on our way up to a bluff. I walked and slushed around the bluff and found that after the stove there was nothing interesting to take pictures of except out in the cove where there was a seal bobbing up and down in the water. I returned to the Zodiacs and saw some birds along the beach just past the Zodiacs.
We eventually climbed back on board. I was wearing my highway workers heavy yellow rain pants which made it difficult to swing my legs over the side of the Zodiac but with a little help from Katya I got back in and we shoved off to cruise to Camp Cove.
The beach at Camp Cove was not as rocky as Tucker Cove so it was almost a dry landing. The Sitka Spruce was impressive considering it was planted in 1900. It holds the Guinness world record as the loneliest tree in the world because it is the only tree on Campbell Island and the nearest island with trees is 140 miles away.As I walked up a wide shallow stream toward the tree I was fascinated by a New Zealand or Hooker’s sea lion that appeared to be posing for us. I took a lot of pictures and he got up and almost ran to the water, plunged in and swam toward the Zodiacs. I turned my attention on the tree and a pair of sea lions up the side of a bluff in tall grass that Bill Hendricks was taking close up pictures of. When I started back down the stream toward the Zodiacs the big sea lion had returned from his dip in the water and appeared to be after my yellow pants. I kept moving to higher ground but he kept coming in my direction. He also was after one of the other passenger that was wearing a yellow parka. Eventually I moved far enough away that he turned his attention to the yellow parka. He was a good subject for picture taking.
When it came time to leave the water had receded and two of the Zodiacs were high and dry. We had to lift them to get them back in the water. Marcus had joined our Zodiac and was receiving a Zodiac driving lesson with Katya. We cruised around the harbor a bit slowing down when we came upon birds standing on rocks along the shore line in Garden Cove and crossed the harbor to Venus Cove where the French had camped to observe the crossing of Venus in 1874.
When we returned to the ship we had a “picnic” lunch where we made our own sandwiches from items laid out on the counter. After lunch I decided to not return for the walk along the board walk to Col Lyall, the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross. I read a little and wrote in my journal. When I caught up on my journal I turned my attention to my next trip in April which will include travel in areas of India that I had not visited in the past. Remembering that Marion had spent a lot of time in India I carried my laptop up to the Bar/Library and asked her about the areas. She was very helpful and we had a long discussion that included her telling me about growing up in the Niles area of what is now Fremont, California where I lived when I got out of the USAF and my daughters went to high school.
The people that had gone ashore returned around 17:30 and the quiet ship woke up and the bar filled with people telling stories about the various adventures during the walks and Zodiac rides back to the ship. I had a long talk with Robert Ippolito about his travels and the pope.
For dinner we had a delicious sea food soup as a starter and I had the fish over mashed potatoes with wasabi mixed in. I had never had the combination and it was very good with the fish. For desert the served tiramisu.
During dinner an announcement was made that those that would like to climb Mt. Honey, sign a sheet in the bar and they will be wakened at 05:00 and depart at 06:00. No one from our group signed up.
Thursday, January 09, 2014: Depart Campbell Island
I awoke at 05:00 when those that were going to climb Mt. Honey were stirring and walking up and down the hall to the toilets and shower but quickly fell back it sleep as the ship was dead clam. A little after six my cabin mate awoke and I finally rose at 07:15. I showered and was in the first group to breakfast. The Advantage Travel group didn’t occupy the rear seats in the dining room and it was interesting to sit with a group of New Zealand birders. They ask Bob Ihsen and I a lot of questions about the Traveler’s Century Club. They didn’t really have an understanding of the wide range of places we visit and how the TCC list just provides us with the names of places we would not think of visiting if they were not on the list. I think they were a lot more appreciative of our ventures that they had before the breakfast conversation.
The weather was not good with a heavy overcast, light rain and fog. The top of Mt. Honey was covered with low clouds. There was no schedule posted for the day so Rodney had a meeting in the Lecture Room at 08:45 to discuss various options. His report from the mountain hikers was that Agnes was returning with one pair and Katya was a 100 meters from the top in a strong wind with sleet like rain.
On the comical side Rodney first listed the excuses for not taking the hike up Mt. Honey such as:
· Shoes were wet
· To stiff
· No view
· Too lazy
· Too old
· Too smart
He then listed the options for the day:
I. Download Photos
L. Briefing on Hobbits
On the serious side a group urged him to schedule a shore excursion to walk on the boardwalk to the Albatross nesting area. He agreed and the meeting adjourned so those that wanted to take the excursion could get dress and meet on the gangway. As we left Dr. John said he would give the take on his experience as a Hobbit in the afternoon.
I asked Bob Parda if he could correlate my scheduled stops in India in April to the Most Traveled People (MPT) list and we met in the Bar/Library with my laptop and ticked off the list I would be scheduled on my list of MTP locations to visit. As a result Cathy is going to modify the April trip to include an additional World Heritage Site in lieu of visiting Kashmir again.
After my meeting with Bob and Cathy I sent Judy and Wendy and email informing them that today was the last day I could receive an email addressed to my ship address and to be on the safe side if they sent me one they should Cc my msn.com account. I also asked them to turn on Skype and leave their desktops on with Skype on Friday and Saturday so I might beable to talk to them from a Air New Zealand Lounge and/o the hotel on my way to Auckland.
I returned to my room and read until they showed a video in the lecture room on one year of the life of an Albatross titled Grandma. The Albatross had been tagged in 1937 and was still mating in 1990. It showed the mating with her younger partner, the hatching of the egg, the shared (between female and male) incubation of the egg, the breakout of the chick, and the feeding of the chick until after a year when the chick took to the air to fly for five years before it touched land again. It was a fascinating documentary.
When the group from the shore excursion returned to the ship we had lunch. For the first time on the trip we did not have salad for lunch. Instead they served a cold mixture of shrimp, pieces of fish and sausage in a tomato sauce with small boiled potatoes in a mayonnaise dressing. It was delicious.
The ship left the anchorage at 13:00. I returned to my room and packed my cold weather gear in the suit case I planned to ship home from Auckland. Shortly afterward the seas became rough. When we sailed around the point there were numerous Albatrosses of many types flying around the ship. I tried to take a picture of one in flight but was not successful. I returned to my cabin to read and write.
The seas continued to be rough and dinner was a challenge. I was sitting in a swivel chair next to a wall in the dining room. Several times I was smashed against the wall and then against Cathy who was sittng next to me. Not everyone attended dinner because the sea was so rough. It is a shame because the served a pepper steak that I could cut with a fork.
After dinner I retired to my cabin and went to bed.
Friday, January 10, 2014: Last day at sea
I was not able to sleep soundly and woke on many occasions as I slid back and forth in my bunk. I finally got up at 07:30 and got dressed. I skipped taking shower since it ran the risk of getting bruised as I would have banged against the walls in the shower room. I wish they had a railing around the sides of the shower; it would make it easier to take a shower in the rough seas. They just have one or two grab handles.
Breakfast was at 08:30. Again not everyone appeared. Rodney announced during breakfast that there was no scheduled program for the day. He thought the seas were too rough to gather in the Lecturer room.
After breakfast I returned to my cabin to read, write in my journal and watched videos on my laptop. Our entire group showed up for lunch but there were many empty seats at the other tables. The lunch included a bowl of boiled chicken pieces in a thin sauce. Twice during lunch the ship rolled so violently that the sauce in my bowl spilled over the edge into my lap. The first time it missed my pants. I got a piece of bread and put it in the bowl to soak up the sauce but right after I put the bread in my bowl the ship rolled and the sauce spilled out and this time it caught my pants.
Rodney announced that he still thought the ship was rocking and rolling to much to schedule any Lectures.
After lunch I returned to my cabin and watched videos before the delivered our bill for the expedition. At 15:00 the bills were delivered and Agnes called passengers by deck number to go to her office on the 6th deck.
After I settled my account I returned to my cabin and watched videos on my laptop until 18:45 when I went up to Bob and Cathy’s cabin for a farewell party. The ship was rocking and rolling and wine boxes and nuts were sliding all over the cabin.
Dinner was served buffet style with a choice of turkey lamb and beef. It was good meal but tgood meal but the “rocking and rolling” continued and wine spilled on Bob Parda several times. After dinner we gathered in the Lecturer Room for the disbarment briefing. Katya showed a PowerPoint presentation of photos taken during the trip. After the show I was able to get a thumb drive with the PowerPoint and copied it to my laptop. I then returned to my cabin did some packing before going to bed.
Saturday, January 11, 2014: Dock in Port of Bluff and then fly Invercargill to Auckland via Christchurch.
Our last night on board the ship was rough before we reached the port around 03:00. I woke around 06:00 to shower, shave and pack. It was nice to take a shower with not having to hold on to the grab bar. We were asked to finish packing and place our luggage outside our cabin. Breakfast was eaten quickly so I could return to finish last minute packing of my carry on. At 08:15 we had to meet with the Customs and Immigration officials in the Bar/Library.
As I stood in line one of the first passengers to meet with the officials came out and reported to us that they wanted us to show them our boots and shoes to make sure we were not tracking any seeds into New Zealand. I returned to my cabin and retrieved them from my luggage. I didn’t check the bottom of the boots as I carried them back to the line. Several of the passengers were having a difficult time picking seeds from their shoes with a tooth pick or the end of the laces. When came to my turn I lifted the boots for inspection and the custom official found a small pebble stuck in the boot pattern. He flicked it out and signed my form which the Immigration official stamp and he stamped my passport and I rushed back to the cabin to repack my boots and prepare to exit the ship. The seaman came by and picked up my luggage to load in a truck to go to the airport.
I exited the ship with my backpack. I had let them take my carry on to load in the truck. We gathered for a group picture. I was in the back and could barely see the cameraman so I think I would be hard to find in the picture. We then boarded the bus and I sat next to Bob Ippolito. It was about a thirty minute ride to the airport. The truck was still unloading luggage when we exited the bus. I grabbed a cart and when my bags were offloaded I was right there.
Inside the terminal Cathy was already at the Star Alliance Gold check-in counter trying to arrange earlier flights for our group. She got Marion and the McCuen’s on the next flight out, Mike on the flight an hour later but Laurie, Bob Ihsen and I stayed with our scheduled 14:05 flight. The agent asked me to wait to check my bag until there was no one else in line. When I did check in he asked me to move some things from my heavier bag to my lighter bag. Once I complied and had my boarding passes I went upstairs to the Air New Zealand lounge with Bob and Cathy. Mike was already there. Cathy then went looking for Bob Ihsen and got him into the lounge.
I hooked up my laptop and connected to the internet. I had about a thousand emails to sort through. I have them sent to folders by subject so I could quickly read the important ones. I paid my credit cards on line but had trouble paying my quarterly tax bill. I was locked out of my BillPay account and could not call to get it unlocked. The Credit Union sent me a message informing me that I had not correctly answered the security question on who was my favorite musical performer or group. I responded and ask for help explaining that I couldn’t telephone them. I told them they should ask questions that had factually basis like what was the name of my high school or my brand of my first care, not a subjective question like my favorite teacher or sports team.
I didn’t get a replay. I had deleted over 500 emails when it came time to board the plane. The flight was late but we still had time in Christchurch to get our flight to Auckland. When we checked in and I was going down the air bridge to the aircraft I realized I had left my backpack on the seat where we were sitting waiting to board the aircraft. The agent let me retrieve it and I was soon settled in my seat.
It was a smooth, little over one hour flight to Auckland. At the baggage claim I exchanged money and inquired about the cost of a super shuttle to our hotel. It was $51 for the three of us. We loaded our bags in the trailer behind the van and were driven to the hotel.
It was 18:45 when I got in my room and attempted to set up my laptop. I discovered that the outlet next to the former internet cable powered off when the light were turned off. The only outlet in the room that stayed on after the lights were turned off was in the hall by the bathroom. I had to move a table over there to plug in my laptop and use an extension cord to plug in my CPAP machine. After I got set up I tried to call Judy on Skype. She didn’t answer so I called Wendy. She called Judy on the land line and soon Judy called me on Skype so we caught up on things. After our talk I continued to read and delete emails. Eventually I went to bed.
The Galapagos of the Southern Ocean Expedition was over. I had survived without injury, but lost half my brain when I lost my smart phone. It was the first time I had gone ten days without a smart phone since before my first Palm Pilot in the mid 1990’s. It was time to get ready for the next stop on the trip, a tour of Indian Ocean islands.