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12/21/2007

Explorer II passed through a calm, which persisted throughout the entire day. Early in the morning we were cruising a nearly flat sea past the last bits of South American land we’d be seeing for some time, the Isla de los Estados. A beautiful Chilean skua was among several other birds following in our wake. Chaos was well contained at the parka and boot exchange, where the watchwords were, “It’s not the size that matters” (though this was disputed by some onlookers), “but the fit.” In the end, the many well-heeled and thoroughly insulated among us made our way from the expeditionary B deck up the stairs to the lounge and a Port Stanley/Falklands briefing delivered by Jannie and Marco. The young explorers met in the cinema with Carol and Cathy for an introduction to Antarctica. Ornithologist Patricia regaled us with a lecture on the seabirds of the southern ocean where we learned about the remarkable lives of the long-lived and far-traveling petrels and albatrosses.

Many of us spent a good part of the day on the decks, enjoying the calm seas and bright skies and the Southern giant petrels, cape (pintado) petrels, and black-browed albatross following the ship. Brent stood sentry on the aft deck much of the time with camera in hand, and a better flying-seabird-photo-studio could not have been wished for, as he identified single individuals of both Northern and Southern royal albatross among the somewhat more common wandering albatross. In the afternoon we were treated to a few shy hourglass dolphins scything the water’s surface with their sizeable dorsal fins and a distant dorsal fin that evoked, but never fully materialized, the potentially attached killer whale.

Later in the afternoon the lecturers got together to present an introduction to the Falklands. Ron chronicled the somewhat complex history of occupation and claims to sovereignty among the varied early residents of the islands, not to mention the several nomenclatural shifts the archipelago has undergone. Henry discussed the curious geological history of the islands, which were in fact once connected to what is now South Africa and have traveled over time on a tectonic plate to the their present position. Patricia, Brent and Chris spoke about the birds and marine mammals to be found on and around the islands. The younger set gathered for a Welcome Aboard ‘Coketail Party’ and ice cream social. The older amongst us started the evening early with a cocktail party hosted by Captain John Moulds who entertained us with his good humor and some fine sea tales. He introduced some of the ship’s senior officers and then Jannie capped the event with more of his irrepressible wit. A marvelous multi-course Captain’s dinner followed, the dining room windows still framing calm seas as we continued steadily on our course toward the Falklands Islands.

   

Captain John Moulds and Cruise Director Jannie Cloette greeted passengers as they arrived to the Captain's Welcome Cocktail Party.

Two ladies thoroughly enjoyed their dinner conversation and the delicious meal served at the Captain's Dinner.

Today was a nice day with calms seas and the back pool deck was a great place to spend some time relaxing.

Passengers gathered on deck to watch the many birds that were following the ship.

The Young Explorers met for an ice cream social and became fast friends as they became acquainted.


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