Monday, April 6, 2009

Antarctica Journal 3.15.09

Antarctica Journal 3.15.09

I couldn’t sleep (no more Cokes at dinner), so I tossed and turned. I feel asleep a little after 1:30 and had to drag myself out of bed at 7:30 to shower and get ready for breakfast.

After breakfast, I repacked my duffle and then went down to the presentation room to find photos again. At about 9:30, Kathy and I went to the library to settle accounts. Some of my charges ended up on her bill, so we had some changes to make. It all went very smoothly and we were given our passports and a certificate commemorating our Antarctica landing.

At 10:30, they showed a really cool movie about rounding Cape Horn. Captain Irving Johnson had made the film back in 1929 when he was a sailor, but didn’t narrate it until 1980. I really enjoyed it and hope to buy it when I get back1.

I was feeling cold again, so I went back to my room and bundled up under the blankets. I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew, the lunch announcement came over the loudspeaker. It was a pretty boring meal – creamy chicken soup, salad from the salad bar, and a chef salad wrap. Dessert was mango tart, so, obviously, I skipped it.

After lunch, I repacked my Badtz Maru duffle and carry-on backpack, then rested until it was time for the 3pm tour of the ship2. We went through the mud room and saw the old scientific/spy machinery that had been left in place because it was too expensive to remove. Is it cynical to reflect that leaving it in place means it’s available should the ship be recommissioned for active service? We saw the emergency steering mechanism, which looked like an over-sized steering wheel, rather than a ship’s helm, not to mention it faced the interior of the storage area, so the helmsman wouldn’t be able to see where he was steering. The engine room was fairly interesting, too. We went up to the bridge and saw Cape Horn for the first time. The Chileans refused to let us get closer than 12 knots, so we weren’t able to “round the Horn” in the classic sense, unfortunately. I’ll have to take a cruise from Chile, if I want to experience that.

After the tour, I headed straight for the bar for the last cookie time. More and more people trickled in, hovering around the bar, waiting for Max to arrive with the tray. Just after 4:30, we could smell cookies, but there was no sign of Max in the corridor. All of a sudden, there was a surge towards the lounge. Max had tricked us by going around the deck and coming in through the lounge. Luckily, there were enough chocolate chunk cookies that I was able to grab one for me and one for my roommate. Unfortunately, before I realized it, I’d eaten her cookie. There were still a few left on the tray, so I grabbed another and carried it up to her, before I could eat that one, too., By then, it was nearly 5 pm and time for Rupert’s Voyage Recap3 and Sam’s photo journal slideshow.

In the half hour between the end of the slideshow and the beginning of the final camera class, I went to the bar to hang out and met Kenny and Karen, who live in NY. I had to run off at 6:15, but probably should have stayed. The camera class was supposed to be an intro to Photoshop4, but Ellen didn’t seem all that familiar with it. She couldn’t show us how to straighten a horizon, which was just about the only thing I was interested in learning. She spent a most of the time showing us how to clone pixels and use them to delete things, like people and wrinkles, from photos, which I don’t really believe in. To me, a photograph is a capture of a moment in time and should be left alone. Straightening a horizon doesn’t bother me that much, but erasing people and wrinkles isn’t something I would do. All in all, I was disappointed with the class.

We were kept late again, so we had to rush off to change for the Captain’s Dinner. I hadn’t brought any formal wear (and neither had most people), but I put on a pair of dark gray slacks with my NY skyline shirt. I sat with Kenny and Karen, Connie and Mike, and Natasha and learned that the $350 fuel surcharge was really to cover an insurance policy, rather than to cover the actual cost of the fuel for the trip. I’m going to request a refund, though I doubt I’ll get it.

During dessert, there were the usual speeches, with thanks and praise going around to everyone, some deserved (the ship’s crew and staff and the Quark expedition team) and some not so deserving.

After dinner, I hurried up to my room to make sure my bags were ready for the morning, then went down to the bar to hear John play guitar and sing (I missed the new song he wrote for this marathon) and to see the Kiwis do the Haka. It was getting late (for me), so I brought down two boxes of Daniel’s chocolates as a bribe and then got my camera ready to record. Tim started the show with an explanation of the Haka, then, with much encouragement from the crowd, he and Rod took off their shirts to the thing right. It was an impressive show. I waited to see if John would do an encore of the Antarctica Marathon song, but, at 11:15, I called it quits and went to bed.

Pictures from these days are available here:

1 Around Cape Horn – Mystic Seaport sells it on-line.

2 Ship Tour
• Mud room – Russian spy ship, ostensibly for scientific research
• After 4 years, became tourist ship
• Sonar equipment – large microphone – too expensive to remove equipment, so it was left in
• Can go 55 days without taking on fuel or water
• Ioffe and Vavilov are sister ships: Ioffe is the receiver and Vavilov is the transmitter. Both could be used as receivers, with a sub transmitting
• Emergency steering
• Side thrusters – useful for navigating among icebergs
• Stabilizers
• 2 engines – max. power is about 14.5 knots

3 Rupert’s Recap
• Record lifeboat motor/drill
• 2 ships
• 20 zodiacs
• 4 ATVs
• 206 participants
• 36 half marathon runners
• 180 marathon runners
• 7 excursions
• 2 continental landings
• 1530.4 knots covered
• 1 knot = 1.15 statute miles

4 Camera Class 5
• ISO – light sensitivity – higher ISO = more light
• (AV?) AP – aperature priority
• TV or SV – shutter speed
• Composition is key
• Pattern is a legitimate subject
• Diagonals are good
• Picasa, Elements (can’t move pixels)
• Photoshop (can move pixels)

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