LOST ISLANDS WITH LINDBLAD
October 9, 2002 - We're off to join the Lindblad Endeavour which will take us from Cadiz, Spain to Port Stanley,
Falkland Islands, 8,140 NM in total. The trip essentially follows the mid-Atlantic ridge. It should be an excellent
opportunity to learn a bit of geology. Along the way we will stop at several isolated islands. All but the last two groups
are volcanic that formed as a result of tectonic plate spreading.
The Lufthansa 747-400 brought us from LAX to Frankfurt. From there we went on to Madrid by an Airbus A320-200.
As I write this we are in our elegant room at the Sofitel Madrid Aeropuerto hotel. The manager just sent us a basket of
fresh fruit. The bathroom had a huge bathtub which Jodie took advantage of, and also a bidet.
Lufthansa business class is not as nice as ANZ, perhaps because they also have first class. They have no lounge at LAX
so to make up for its lack they gave each of us a $15 chit that could be used at the Daily Grill. We spent it on a bottle
of wine. After consuming the wine we headed for the security check-point. The nearest one was at the north end of the
international terminal area and was absolutely empty. We were the only passengers passing through. Unfortunately, our
gate was the last one on the south end.
The overnight flight was uneventful and even arrived in Frankfurt a bit early. We had been issued boarding passes for
the Madrid flight in LA which even listed the gate in Frankfurt. We attempted to verify the gate on the departure
monitors however we couldn't find our flight listed. We headed off to the gate and on the way found a Lufthansa
information counter which verified the gate and departure time.
We passed through what seemed to be immigration and customs although it was quite cursory and then headed off
following the signs to the desired gate. We eventually encountered a man with an electric cart labeled "Gate Taxi." He
told us it was over a mile to the gate and offered to drive us there, a free service. There was even a special security
check-point for our little taxi. We did have to get off and go through the usual checks.
We got off at the Business Lounge to spend the remaining time. It was so crowded that we couldn't find a seat.
Eventually we shared a table with some others who did not speak English. We went to the gate as the departure time
approached and found that there was a separate business waiting area with access controlled by an electronic turnstile.
You fed your boarding pass into it and it allowed you to enter.
Business class seating on the airplane was on the left side and extended part way back. The seats were reconfigurable
into 2 or 3 across. There was, however, no increase in leg room.
It was raining lightly and cool in Madrid when we arrived in early evening. After a brief wait we found the shuttle to
the hotel. We returned to the airport at 9 the next morning for our noon flight on Iberia Airlines to Sevilla. Our fellow
passengers will also be on this flight. There was a slight wait to get checked in and get our boarding passes. The agent
was upset at the weight of our luggage, stating that their allowance was only 20 kg per passenger however the "company"
had paid for 30 kg each. I assume the "company" was Lindblad. We figured that we were not very much overweight
and she didn't charge us. As she gave us our passes she cautioned us to listen carefully to the announcements for gate
Once again the security check was rapid and we began the long hike to the indicated gate. None of the departure
monitors listed our flight. We settled in at the gate indicated on our boarding pass and eventually other members of the
group trickled in. I strolled over to one of the monitors and discovered that the gate assignment had changed so we all
moved. The new gate listed our flight. Sometime during our wait I noticed that the gate no longer listed our flight.
Rather another flight was now listed. We started to the new gate but on the way encountered members of the group who
stated that the new gate indicted some other flight. Someone went to the Iberia information counter and was given a
different gate. The upshot was that we had a total of 5 gate changes within 2 hours, none of which were included in the
almost continual litany of gate changes on the public address system.
At 1:30 we boarded a bus that took us to the extreme far end of the airport where we boarded an MD88. The flight was
scheduled to leave at 12:10 pm. After all were boarded the plane taxied for 20 minutes to the take-off point. The flight
to Sevilla was only 50 minutes. Jodie spent the entire flight with her fingers in her ears. Her seat was in the rear right
next to the engines.
After an extremely long wait the luggage arrived and we reached the hotel at 4 pm. Iberia Airlines has joined the list
of airlines we hope to never fly again.
At 7 pm we bussed off to a restaurant on the river for a dinner. The wine was weak but plentiful; the paella was quite
poor, but the views of the lighted towers along the river were great.
We checked out at 9 and toured the city in the morning. Lunch was at a very quaint restaurant. Once again the wine was
included and poured freely. The food was also quite good, consisting of many small courses of mixed items, called tapas,
I believe. After lunch we drove off to Cadiz where we boarded the ship around 5 pm. Sailing was expected at 6.
It is now 2 pm Friday and we have not yet sailed. Spanish bureaucracy has kept us here all night and most of the day.
10/13. We finally got out of Cadiz at 4 pm, exactly 22 hours behind schedule. Our enforced delay in Cadiz had some
beneficial aspects. The Spanish training sailing ship, Juan Sebastian de Elcono, was moored next to us and open for
visitors. She has a crew of 240 and left the day after we did for a 9« month World cruise. Although the tour was limited
to the deck, it was quite interesting. We also did a walk around this part of town, the old part. Since it is a Spanish
national holiday, Columbus Day, not much was open, however, with the narrow streets it was quite pretty, or quaint.
Since yesterday was a national holiday, there was only one pilot working. After finally receiving our clearance we had
to wait for him to bring in the Black Prince from the Fred Olsen Line before he could take us out. The Black Prince took
forever, backing and going forward before finally getting tied up across the harbor from us. Once that was accomplished,
he quickly boarded the pilot launch and scuttled across the harbor to us and we were out. We are now rushing down the
Atlantic and have yet to learn what impact this will have on our planned 2-day stop in the Canary Islands.
10/14. As we rushed off to try to catch up, it was decided to reduce the two-day stop in the Canary Islands to one day.
We did make a brief stop at the Selvidge Islands that are supposed to be great bird islands. Unfortunately the birds have
all left. Like most of the mid-Atlantic ridge islands, these are volcanic. There was a research station on the island which
we couldn't visit. It certainly isn't a place to which I would like to be assigned.
While everyone was on deck searching for birds, the "bird man" on the trip, Art Cooley announced with great excitement
that he had spotted a Monk Seal. With all binoculars trained on the seal we crept closer, only to finally determine that
it was a barrel.
There was a 1-hour Zodiac ride which featured a very rough transition from ship to Zodiac and back. It was a good
introduction for the several people who have never traveled on a ship that uses Zodiacs.
This was the evening of the Captain's Welcome Party and Dinner. During the cocktail party the staff and naturalists were
introduced. Since 22 days of the total voyage of 37 days will be at sea, much of the time will be filled with lectures. All
of the following presented lectures that were quite educational and appropriate to the areas through which we were
Expedition Leader - Matt Drennan
Assistant Expedition Leader - Lisa Trotter
Geologist/Oceanographer - Dr. Jim Kelley
Environmentalist - Dr. Steve MacLean
Undersea Specialist - Dr. Dennis Cornejo
Ornithologist - Art Cooley
Historian - David Barnes
Biologist - Dr. Bernard Stonehouse
10\15. Our day in the Canary Islands consisted of an all-day bus tour around the island of La Palma. The name derived
from the palm trees that covered the island when the Spaniards first seized the islands from the indigenous people. These
islands continually suffer from mono-economies. The first was raising sugar cane, then cochineal, a little beetle whose
shells are used for intense red coloring. The current mono crop is bananas however the European Union will no longer
support their cultivation. And now, the economy is becoming dependent on tourism.
There are some benefits accruing from the EU. The islands are a part of Spain that is a part of the EU. Since the islands
are considered impoverished, money is available from the EU for the restoration of historic structures. The initial grant
money must be used to train unskilled laborers in the various construction trades. Once this is accomplished, the newly
trained workers restore the structure.
Given the volcanic origin of the island, there is almost no flat area. The roads snake up and down with many bus-
challenging curves. We visited a church, two caldera, Caldera de Taburiente and Fuencaliente, a pottery shop, and had
a delightful picnic lunch in the national park. There was no opportunity for shopping except at the pottery shop which
was quite poor. Several people wanted to go to a grocery store which would have been better than the pottery shop.
As we toured around the island we saw some small vineyards. The vines grow flat on the ground rather than being
trellised. The reason is that the vines and fruit need protection from the almost incessant wind. We bought a bottle of
red wine at one of the volcano visitor centers. It was ok but not great.
The maximum elevation of an islands determines its access to moisture. Those that rear above 1,000 ft are able to
squeeze the moisture out of the trade winds, with higher being better. Although the island is named La Palma, the
dominant tree is the Canary Island Pine. These trees have very long clusters of needles that form in dense bunches on
the branches, looking something like very large, bright green cotton balls. These needle clusters assist in wringing
moisture from the windward side clouds.
The Spanish, in their infinite wisdom upon their initial conquest, decided to use Gran Canaria Island for sugar production.
Toward this end they cleared the suitable land and planted sugar. As it matured it was harvested and liquid resulting from
the crush was boiled down in huge vats, with the heat provided by burning the wood from the trees on the island. One
day they ran out of trees and, since the trees were no longer present to drain the moisture from the clouds, they also ran
out of water. Of course, the production of sugar ended and this island is now quite arid, never to recover its former
10/18. After two days at sea we will visit Fodo, one of the Cape Verde Islands today. Perhaps now would be a good
time to describe a typical day at sea. We usually wake up somewhere between 6:30 and 7. For the first several days on
the ship we were awaking in the dark however we had three successive nights where the clocks were retarded one hour
each and yesterday we crossed the Tropic of Cancer so the days are now longer. Sunrise was at 6:30 this morning.
Breakfast is available from 7:30 to 9 am. The first lecture is at 9:15, the second at 11. After lunch there is a generous
allowance of time for naps then there will be a lecture or a video at 3. Afternoon tea is a 4, if there is a recap it is at 6:45,
and dinner at 7:30. On a typical day at sea there is no need for recap however we had one last night to provide
information about the visit to Fodo. There was also a discussion of the significance of the Tropics of Cancer and
Capricorn and how Eratosthenes first calculated the diameter of the Earth.
10/19. The most amazing thing about our visit to Fodo came at the end of our long, bumpy minibus ride up the slopes
of the island to visit a small village. The final part of the ride was across rugged, rough fields of fresh jagged lava with
much of the area buried under ash. We were driving through the caldera of a very active volcano. Suddenly out of all
the wasteland we encountered small houses and obvious cultivation. Each plant was carefully placed in a depression that
had been scraped out of the ash. Eventually we reached the village Cha das Caldeiras, home of over 1,000 residents,
and a winery. These people are living in the caldera of an active volcano which last erupted in 1995!
There was no dock suitable for the Endeavour so we came to shore in Zodiacs. The fleet of 10 minibuses was lined up
waiting for us. We selected a bus and met our guide Celestino, whose "house" name is Tino. He had lived in LA for
21 years but was deported last year when given the choice of deportation vs. going to jail for fighting.
Eventually the fleet departed and drove up the hill and passed through the administrative center of the island, S o Filipe.
All of the buildings are concrete, some poured slab, some locally made concrete block that is covered with a smooth coat
of stucco. Many buildings are unfinished. The roads are paved with small, flat volcanic stones. The paving, originally
done by slaves, is all hand done. We twisted our way up and out of town and into the relatively less populated country.
The many people about seemed healthy; I saw very few overweight or infirm. Perhaps the slender build is the result of
the overall poverty of the country.
Cape Verde had been a possession of Portugal until recently when they were granted independence. Their balance of
trade is abysmal. About all they can export are some agricultural products. Since a large number live abroad, the supply
of cash from them supports the residents. Cape Verdians were prized harpooners by the early whalers so there is a
considerable population in the former whaling ports of the US northeast.
The island is quite arid. The rainy season is June and July and may be quite heavy. Cisterns are located everywhere to
catch and retain the runoff. On our way back down in the afternoon we frequently saw women walking to the local
cistern with a 5 gallon bucket and walking back with the filled bucket balanced on their heads, no hands. There is also
a desalination plant on the island and water is trucked to the cisterns when they are depleted.
The road up to the caldera became increasingly steep and twisting. Almost any tillable area was under cultivation. Rock
walls meandered all over the country side, some to mark property lines, others seemed to be for erosion control or to
create or protect flat plots of land. As we progressed higher, vegetation lessened and more recent lava flows became
more prevalent. The government has planted some trees on the upper heights in an effort to change the climate by
wringing more moisture out of the moist winds. The fuel used for cooking and anything else, however, is wood. Are
the residents cutting down the government planted trees?
There are many cinder cones dotting the landscape, each ringed with trenches or ditches. None were close enough to
see if these were actually low rock walls or if there was anything planted. Much effort has been devoted to trapping the
water and driving it into the ground.
When we reached the village there was a small group playing traditional music. It consisted of a violinist/singer, a
scratch gourd, a ukulele, and a guitar. As they played a lot of the local kids peddled little huts and houses made of lava
and straw. Some were also selling curiously shaped lava and hunks of crystalline sulfur. There was cultivation in any
direction you cared to look. There were some blooming apply trees immediately next to the performance area. There
were also developing apples on the trees.
Eventually the group wandered up the main (only) street of the town to the winery where we had coffee, snacks and
sampled the wine. The very steep hill behind the winery was planted at random with grape vines, growing flat on the
ground rather than on trellises. The wine wasn't very good however several people bought some.
The trip back to town took much less time. We were wanting to get a CD of the local music and with the aid of the
guides found a CD store. A conventional wooden door in the side of a building opened into a tiny store. There were
no windows. A sign above the door in Portugese identified the store. The store was about 15 feet wide and quite
shallow. A glass-fronted case displayed 20 or 30 CDs. Some shelves behind held more. The display case plus a glass
wall above separated the customers from the staff. There was a small opening in the glass for transacting business. After
some difficulty we succeed in getting our CD for $15.
Right in the midst of writing the above I was interrupted by an announcement that we had encountered a large pod of
pilot whales. There were an estimated 50 to 100 just lazing on the surface. They were not alarmed even though the ship
slowed and moved around them . Interesting since they are still actively hunted in the Faeroe Islands.
10/21. Around 7 am yesterday while Jodie was exercising and I was tending to the e-mail, a pod of spinner dolphins
leapt their way across the bow intent on having breakfast. We were treated to a scene which explained why they are
called spinners. As they worked on the school of fish they jumped into the air completely out of the water and spun
around and around with the sun flashing off of their shiny sides.
After breakfast as Jim Kelly, the oceanographer and geologist, was getting ready for his lecture on the equatorial currents
we encountered several sperm whales, "logging" on the surface. We were able to approach closely. There was one
group of two and another of four or five. Eventually the two dove, with one fluking. The other group just sank into their
dive. Then we encountered two more and finally a single whale that moved sedately across the bow of the stationary
ship, allowing many photos, then fluked.
Finally, we had dinner with Capt. Karl Lampe.
10/22. After a day at sea, the only significant thing that happened was crossing the Equator around 9:20 last night. Many
passengers gathered on the pool deck to observe the occasion. Four of us had G.P.S. receivers which agreed on the
moment we crossed. The ship receiver, however, indicated the crossing about 10 seconds later.
Since our last trip on this ship, six TV monitors have been added to the lounge. These display the speakers' slides or
video. Thus all may see rather than just those in the front of the room. Many of the lectures use PowerPoint with a
notebook computer driving a projector and also the monitors.
10/25. We have now done Ascension Island. The ship arrived around 3 in the afternoon two days ago. As we
approached, it became apparent that the island was covered by antennae of every description. There were masts and
domes and large satellite dishes. The island's use as a communication hub began many years ago when five
communication cables landed there. Traffic was manually rerouted from cable to cable. These cables are no longer
active. The BBC has its Africa coverage radio station there. Programming is provided from England via satellite and
then broadcast from directional antennae on short wave.
All eyes on the bridge were searching for the tanker that is permanently anchored off of Georgetown. The ship needs
to "bunker." We were soon rewarded by the sight of its turquoise and red hull riding high in the water. The ship is
chartered by the British government and remains here all the time except for a monthly voyage around the island. It is
resupplied by another tanker as needed.
From a more natural view, the island was shrouded in clouds and obvious rain. This is the youngest and, strangely
enough, least active of the volcanic islands of the ridge. The last eruption was probably 600 years ago. The highest point
on the island is Green Mountain, although there are many lesser cinder cones dotting the landscape. We could see
nothing of Green Mountain.
The ship anchored between the tanker and the U.S. Naval ship, Pathfinder. This ship seemed to have almost as many
antennae as the entire island, including a pedestal mount tracking dish on the stern. We later found out that it tracks and
receives telemetry from Poseidon missiles.
We remained at anchor until the local authority cleared the ship then we sailed off to Boatswain Bird Island, a volcanic
stack that is the nesting site for sea birds. The birds had also previously nested on Ascension Island however humans
brought rats when they came to the island which preyed on the birds and anything else. So the humans brought cats to
control the rats. They found the birds much easier prey and soon drove all ground nesting birds from the island. Of three
native species that were on the island, only the Ascension Island Frigate Bird has survived.
In an attempt to restore island nesting, efforts are underway to poison both the cats and the rats. It is believed that only
ten cats remain from the thousands that were at one time present. I didn't learn how successful the rat poisoning effort
Boatswain Bird island is the typical white-frosted sea bird island. We were greeted by squadrons of frigate birds with
a sprinkling of boobies and terns. The top and sides were covered with birds. As the ship stood off of the island the
Zodiacs were put in the water and those who wished were taken on a tour around the island. The local pod of dolphins
that had escorted the ship to the island then joined the Zodiacs and rode their bow waves whenever the Zodiacs went fast
After a magical hour or two, we headed back to our anchorage off of Georgetown.
The next morning half of the passengers toured the island while the other half visited the town. We were in the second
group. We got ashore around 8:30 and by 9:30 had seen all there was to see in town. There are approximately 600
residents, 30 or 40 US citizens supporting the Air Force station and air field. Since the island is British there are quite
a number of their military here. The only seemingly permanent residents are people from St. Helena who do most of the
work. There is one grocery store, a hotel, a couple of restaurants, and a couple of bars. There also seem to be some
stores however most weren't open. There was also a museum that they kept promising would be open however it never
did. Many of the clothing stores are open only one or two days a week.
We finally moved to one of the bars above the former military barracks where a number of passengers were waiting.
I had a Spanish beer while waiting for the magic hour of 12:30 pm when we would be picked up and taken to Two Boats
for lunch. After lunch the two groups would reverse and we would go on the tour in the little minibuses. One advantage
for the afternoon group is that they could go back to the ship when bored with the town. We were not permitted that
privilege since the ship was at the tanker and we were not allowed to reboard.
Our tour started out at the finally open museum next to the ruins of the old fort. About all that was left of the fort were
the walls and crumbling cement structures inside. The museum was small but had quite a wide range of things about the
island, including a room full of old electronics, a legacy from its position as a communications center.
After the museum we went to the U.S. Air Force base where the base commander, a major, gave us a briefing on their
mission. He is one of two air force personnel stationed there. There are also 30 civilian subcontractors from Raytheon
Computer Sciences. They have several high-power radars that track missile launches from the cape and also track stuff
in orbit for the U.S. Space Command. There were several communication satellite dishes present. One was positioned
next to each of the tracking radar. I suspect that it is a "bent-pipe" operation where the telemetry and tracking data are
instantly relayed back to the cape or some other Air Force facility rather than being operated on locally.
We then drove around the end of the runway (one of the 6 longest in the world) to the sooty tern fair, their nesting area.
These terns are also called "Wide-Awake" terns because of their call. I didn't perceive the reason for the name. Their
nesting area is called a "fair" since it is noisy and bustling like a county fair.
The original runway was built at the start of WWII for use in refueling planes on their way to Europe. It was built when
the terns were not nesting. When they returned on their regular 9« month cycle they tried to nest where they always had,
which now happened to be a runway that the airplanes wanted to use. This problem was solved, from the human
perspective, by having GIs walk up and down the runway clanging trash can lids together. This eventually convinced
the terns to move. The field is named Wide-Awake Field.
The runway was lengthened to its present length so that it can serve as an emergency landing field for the space shuttle.
Its never been used for that purpose but if it ever is I'm not sure how this small island will handle the attention.
One reason the terns are still successfully breeding on the island in spite of the cats is that they land and breed in mass,
overwhelming the cats who are able to take a relative small number. When the birds leave, there is nothing for the cats
to eat so many starve.
Their breeding ground is close to the runway, but closer to the sea. Since it is the end of this breeding season there were
few birds there.
After our hike to the birds over volcanic rubble we went off to a view point where we could see more of the runway.
It's strange to see such a large, well built field with no airplanes on it. There are two RAF flights a week that stop on
their way to and from the Falkland Islands for fuel. They carry mail and up to 20 civilian passengers, at o728 round trip.
Then we went on up the mountain in the struggling, underpowered minivans. At a point higher up the mountain we
switched to a fleet of Land Rovers that were capable of climbing the steeper grades and negotiating the sharp curves.
The goal of this trip to the upper reaches of Green Mountain was to visit the Royal Marine farms that were created to
feed the populace of the island. (It must have been interesting to enlist in the Royal Marines and then be sent to
Ascension Island to be a farmer.) They have been abandoned now that food may be shipped in more economically. The
well built stone buildings are being allowed to decay and the fields are, for the most part, fallow.
The British government has just recently allowed private ownership on the island. Some residents have bought their
homes, apparently with the intention of making it their permanent home. In line with permanence, there is a desire to
improve tourism. They would like to open up the air field to commercial flights. These tentative permanent residents
are mostly from St. Helena. They also have some interest in reestablishing the Royal Marine farms.
One of the features the marines built is a "dew pond." On the windward slope of the island they built a large paved
catchment. The precipitation from this drained into the dew pond that fed a pipe running through a tunnel to the dryer
side. This water was piped on down to town. The system no longer functions and the pipe is broken. Although offered
the "opportunity" to walk through the tunnel, we declined since it was quite muddy and dark.
As expected, the upper area was quite lush. There was intermittent very light mist while we were there. When we stood
on the ridge to view the catchment the wind was quite strong and continuous. Moss, small plants, and even trees are
taking over the barracks and other buildings. There are some buildings that seem to still be occupied, perhaps as rental
On the way back to town we passed by the One Boat Golf Club. This course has been described as the worst course in
the World. All surfaces on the island are lava and the course is no exception. The tees are smooth wooden platforms;
the "greens" are raked lava ash. You can imagine what the fairways are like.
Before going back to the ship we went to Comfortless Cove, one of the few swimming beaches on the island. One of
our older, male fellow passengers "skinny-dipped" in the cove while we were viewing the near by grave yard. When a
ship arrived with sick on board, they were quarantined at a camp near there. Those who died were buried there.
10/29. When we returned from dinner last night we discovered that the port hole covers had been dogged down, making
our cabin darker than the inside of your hat. (That assumes that your hat has a dark inside and everyone knows that hats
must have a dark inside to protect your hair.) This must mean that we will have rough seas on our passage from St.
Helena to Tristian da Cunha. Furthermore, the crew has taken down the awnings over the sun deck.
I need to report on St. Helena. We arrived right at Sunday noon and went ashore after lunch. Since the only access to
St. Helena is by ship you would expect a finely developed harbor or at least a very good dock. That is not the case.
There is a sea wall across the front of the town. The water on one side is deeper and becomes the quay. Our access was
at the end where the surf did not usually break. There were several steps which allowed adjusting the access to the
zodiacs to the current sea level and a pipe overhead with ropes hanging down. Younger and more agile people use the
ropes to swing to and from small boats to land. None of our group did. Further down the quay there were large cranes
that lifted the shipping containers off of the lighters that bring them in from the RMS (royal mail ship) Saint Helena.
The RMS Saint Helena shuttles between England, Ascension Island, Saint Helena, and Cape Town about every six weeks
and is the only way to ship goods to and from the island. Perhaps once a year it also stops at Tristian da Cnuha. This
ship, plus the six or seven cruise ships that call here in the warmer months are the only access to the island, unless you
happen to have your own yacht. There is no airport although there is some hope that one will be built. The problem,
though, is that there is almost no flat land on the island.
Our ship brought a woman who had been working on Ascension Island back to her home on Saint. Helena. One of our
passengers became ill and had to be left at the hospital on Saint Helena. Arrangements were made for her and her
husband to leave on the Marco Polo which will call there in two weeks. That ship will drop them at Cape Town from
where they will fly home.
The visible part of the island is, of course, the part that is above water and is the top 300 m of a 4,200 m volcano. This
volcano is around 10 million years old and has moved northeast on the African plate away from the hot spot that caused
it to form. Its topology features steep, wave-cut sides, sharp peaks and heavily dissected valleys. Given its age and
heavy erosion, there is soil on the surfaces and much green. It is, of course, best known as Napoleon's final home.
We anchored off of Jamestown, the most major town and seat of government. The island was discovered in 1502 by the
Portugese who kept it a secret. The British discovered it in 1588 and took possession. The Dutch found it next. After
a lot of fighting the British occupied it in 1659 and made it a resupply point for the East India Company ships. To
discourage invasion attempts, fortifications were built across the mouth of valleys that open to the sea.
There was quite a bit of surge when we arrived at the landing. After waiting for the sets to diminish we stepped ashore
with dry feet. We walked down the quay in front of the old fortifications and finally walked through the gate and beheld
the town. It is a lovely old Georgian scene. Immediately inside the gate is the old parade ground for the fort and castle.
Immediately ahead is the cathedral, currently undergoing urgently needed repairs.
We walked up the Sunday-quiet street, pausing to take in the castle garden. A concert by the children's choir was
scheduled for 2:30 so we spent the time looking around. The concert was delightful and featured all songs about Saint
Helena. After the concert we did a walking tour with a local historian which ended at the museum.
The museum is adjacent to Jacob's Ladder. This is a set of stairs that allow access to one side of the valley. The 700
steps ascend 600'. When it was originally built it had cars that ran on either side of the steps, one going up while the
other went down, driven by a capstan at the top. The locals have developed an interesting technique of sliding down the
hand rails on either side of the steps. They lay with shoulders and arms on one side and legs on the other. The uphill
hand grips the rail and is one brake. The downhill foot is pressed against the rail as another brake. We did not climb
the steps although several passengers did. Several more walked down it the next day and are suffering today.
The ship remained anchored that night so we could tour the island on Monday. Our van drove up the left side of the
valley and stopped along the way so we could view Briarwood, Napoleon's first residence on the island. He stayed there
until Longwood could be made ready.
Question: who is buried in Napoleon's tomb on Saint Helena? Answer: no one. His body was moved to France in the
1800s. The site is preserved by the French government and is quite pretty. The former tomb is surrounded by a wrought
iron fence and the whole place is surrounded with flowers.
The next stop was Longwood, his final residence. After his death it was abandoned and allowed to deteriorate.
Sometime later the British gave it to the French so the Tricolor flies over it as also at the tomb site. The French
government restored the house and duplicated some of the furnishings. It was a lovely, large country home in a beautiful
garden setting, but it must have been quite a come-down after the opulent luxury he had been used to. He wasn't very
happy there. A few interesting bits of history; he felt most comfortable in his bath so he spent hours there working and
reading. He had the paths in the garden lowered so that he could stroll and the guards around the perimeter could not
see him. He also carved peep-holes in the wooden shutters so that he could spy on his guards without them seeing him.
The current shutters are reproductions, including the peep-holes, since the original ones rotted.
The remainder of the tour went on across the island over the incredibly tortured landscape. The roads twist and turn, dive
down and struggle up the sharp ridges and valleys. There are New Zealand Flax plants everywhere. This was once a
cash crop for the island with the fibers used to make string. The advent of artificial fibers doomed the endeavor. There
are also masses of Calla Lilies. These were introduced but, as Steve MacLean says, they have gone feral.
In the afternoon we shopped the town. In the grocery store we discovered that most of the goods came from South
Africa. I guess the shipping costs are less than from England.
The Saints, as they call themselves, are an interesting blend of European, West African, Chinese, and Indian. These
separate races are no longer individually present, except in very few individuals. Intermarriage has made an amalgam.
Their complexions are various light and dark shades of brown. They seem healthy, with the exception of their teeth.
Most of the older population are missing teeth. Although there is a dental clinic on the island I suspect dentures are not
easily available. Vision services are offered once a year.
Their primary export is people with 50% of males between 18 and 60 working off of the island, many on Ascension
Island and the Falkland Islands. There are Saint families living on Ascension Island. When children reach 18 and don't
have a job they must return to St. Helena.
One of the lecturers, and the "bird man" on the trip is Art Cooley. He is one of the founders of the Environmental
Defense Fund and presented a lecture on its creation. He and five others got together in the front room of his home to
halt the filling of marsh land in their home township. When they were successful they decided to try to ban the use of
DDT in the state and were also successful. They then sued the EPA to seek a national ban. William Ruckelshouse, the
first administrator of EPA agreed and banned it. From there they got a grant from the Ford Foundation and hired a full
I asked Art why and how gaseous pollutants are measured in tons. He didn't know the answer. The measurement can't
be expressed in volume since it would change with temperature and pressure, however, it could be reduced to standard
temperature and pressure.
11/1. Suddenly we have transitioned. I put my shorts away because it is too cool. The temperature changed because
we have crossed the Antarctic Convergence Zone, the place where the cold but nutrient-rich waters from around the
continent up well to the surface. We also were joined by the first wandering albatross. The seas continue to be quite
"lumpy." We now have a convoy of sea birds, including the spectacular flying circus of the Pintado Petrels.
11/2. Today was our first day at Tristan da Cunha. We arrived off of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, or Edinburgh, or,
as the residents call it, the settlement, as dawn was breaking. Of course, since our port holes are again covered, we
couldn't really tell it was dawn. Jodie noticed that the engine sound changed so we opened one of the covers and saw
the island with the breaking dawn lighting the sky behind it. We dressed and went out on deck and were greeted with
a fierce wind and cool temperatures. We were just arriving at the anchorage off of the settlement with the wind kicking
up lots of white caps. After taking the requisite pictures of the 1961 eruption immediately adjacent to the village, we
repaired to the library where early morning hot beverages and light breakfast was available.
When the eruption occurred in 1961, all 250 residents fled. The lava flow inundated the fish packing plant however it
didn't reach the houses. The eruption was so sudden, violent, and unexpected that the residents picked up what they
could and walked the 3 miles to the potato patches in the middle of the night. (More about the potato patches later.)
They spent a miserable night there and then moved off to nearby, uninhabited Nightingale Island by open boats. A
passing Spanish liner picked them up and took them to Johansberg, South Africa from where they were evacuated to
England. After two years all but two of the surviving residents petitioned to be returned, which the British government
did. Because of their long isolation they contracted many illnesses in England.
Habitation on the island really began when the British put Napoleon on Saint Helena. They placed garrisons on any
somewhat nearby island that they thought could be used as a springboard from which to free him. When he died they
removed the garrison. One member, named Glass, petitioned to remain with his family. They were the first permanent
residents. They raised vegetables and sold them to the ships passing on their way to the Far East. Other people arrived
and eventually there were 200 to 300 residents, with eight different last names. The opening of the Suez Canal put an
end to this trade. Now the island is somewhat prosperous based on their own trapping of crayfish (which we know as
spiny lobsters) and issuing licenses to others.
We went ashore and found a neat, pleasant community. The small harbor has been created by building a couple of
breakwaters out from the shore. We were able to land with no surge.
Our first activity was to wander around the town and then visit the very small museum which has a very small selection
of craft items for sale. Around 9:30 a group set off to see the lava dome that caused the evacuation. We hiked up the
slope around behind the dome but eventually the steepness, wind, and light rain encouraged us to return to the town. The
rain stopped and the sun came out. We visited the supermarket which is more like a general store and the craft store at
the William Glass guest rooms. We also visited the Post Office where I bought a crayfish torte which was a 5" disk of
flat bread covered with a delicious lobster salad.
We went back to the ship for lunch and then hurried back so we could visit the potato patches. For a long time the island
currency was potatoes. They had no money. The patches are about 3 miles outside of town. These are individual
patches set off by lava rock walls from their neighbors. Many have small cottages which they call vacation cottages.
Some are almost as large as the houses in town. We rode out the very rough, paved road in the back of a jeep driven by
the constable's son who is the island computer person.
We walked back through the beautiful green undulating country side and arrived just in time for the 3 pm reception at
the island administrator's residence. It was held in his front yard which was sheltered from the wind by a high hedge
of flax plants. We enjoyed cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and then went back to the ship. The administrator, William
Dickson, is appointed by the Foreign Office and does not seem to be well liked by the islanders, a problem I suspect any
outsider would have. His behavior on the ship during its last visit also seems to have alienated him from the staff.
Island topology. The eroded cliffs of the island reveal many layers of successive lava deposits, making it look somewhat
like a layer cake. The very few level areas are the result of lava flows and erosional deposits. The settlement rests on
one and the potato patches on a larger one. There are some pastures and a apple orchard on the far side of the island,
reachable only by boat from the settlement.
11-3. While we were enjoying the island yesterday, one of our elderly shipmates collapsed at the potato patches. Dr.
Doug determined that he had suffered a mild heart attack. The ship has an EKG and a portable defibrillator. Also,
surprisingly, the "clot-buster" drugs. (According to the wife of a cardiologist on board, these drugs cost $2,000 a dose.)
This is the first voyage where these are available. The patient is doing well, however since the ship is the fastest way
from Tristian, he will remain on the ship with continued treatment and rest in his cabin.
Two passengers left the ship at Saint Helena. The woman had diverticulitis which required hospitalization. They will
remain there until the Marco Polo calls about two weeks after our visit. They will board that ship, whose next call is
Capetown from where they will fly home. She had the very same problem when she was on the Endeavour on its way
to Svalbard and had to be hospitalized and then flown home. I don't know how they can continue to get travel insurance
or why they were allowed on this trip with its many days of total isolation.
Anyway, today was another great day in the Tristian group. The day dawned with clear, bright blue skies and almost
no wind. The seas were almost smooth. Approximately 20 islanders boarded early this morning and we set out for
Nightingale Island. There is a large colony of Rock Hopper penguins there in addition to nesting Yellow-Billed
Albatross. Some of the islanders were supposed to act at guides; the remainder were just along for the ride. We went
ashore at a steep rock, accompanied by many penguins. This is also one of the places where the islanders have vacation
or summer "cottages." These were small, rustic huts where they could get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy
settlement. Unfortunately the storm that caused so much damage in the settlement destroyed these huts. They will not
get around to rebuilding until all of the settlement damage is repaired. (The passengers on the ship donated $1,300 to
help in the settlement repair.)
We hiked up the hill through the tussock grass along with the penguins who were busily scurrying back and forth. Along
the way we occasionally encountered a litter of dead Broad-Billed Prion bird carcases. When the density became great
it indicated that we were nearing a Skua nesting area. (Skuas are predators always found around the penguin rookeries
and other bird nesting areas.) We found eggs, an egg where the chick was breaking out, and a fluffy brown chick. All
of these sites were patrolled by anxious, annoyed parents who made many close, threatening passes to encourage us on
our way. (One of the local guides was asked what was the reason for the Prion bodies. He said they ran into each other
when they were flying back to the island to their nesting burrows at night.)
The islanders have traditionally gathered penguin eggs here. They would take one egg from a nest, leaving others to be
hatched. Egg gathering is limited now since only the older people like the eggs. The younger residents prefer chicken
eggs. Speaking of the older residents; we didn't see any. They sequester themselves when a ship arrives to avoid the
illnesses that outsiders bring with them. (I felt a bit like Typhoid Mary.)
Finally we reached a nesting Yellow-billed Albatross. It sat placidly on the nest while we looked. All the time some
very "cheeky" brown thrushes flitted about. Their hope was that the parent would raise up enough that they could attack
the egg. They were bold enough that they would hop up on a seated person and look for some tasty little morsel.
We did a brief shoreline tour before returning to the ship for lunch.
After lunch the ship did a token tour across one side of Inaccessible Island then went back to Tristian but along the side
of Tristian that we hadn't seen so far. We rounded the end of the island and went to the settlement to drop off the
For dinner tonight we had Tristian da Cunhan crawfish. These were our last volcanic islands of the mid-Atlantic ridge.
It is now four days to South Georgia.
I've been trying to decide how to describe the government or organization of Tristian. It could be socialism or a pure
democracy because of the small number of residents. They elect a council who in turn elect an Island Leader. The
council, however, is chaired by the Administrator who is appointed by the British Foreign office. Income comes from
selling fishing licenses and from the crayfish processing plant. Only islanders are allowed to trap crayfish around the
island. The licenses allow others to trap and fish around the other islands. Island fishermen are paid for their catch. The
only employer on the island is the island government. I believe that utilities are provided by the government. Small
numbers of sheep and cattle are raised for personal consumption. We watched a calf being born during our visit. Several
people suggested to the owner, one of our guides, that it should be named "Endeavour." I don't know if she will.
The hurricane of last year destroyed many of the roofs on the island and completely destroyed the community center.
The houses originally had thatched roofs however these had been replaced with corrugated roofs, some made of asbestos.
The asbestos is being replaced by aluminum or steel.
One effect of the inbreeding among the seven island family groups is a high incidence of asthma. Researchers have taken
blood samples from all and hope to isolate the responsible gene.
11/9. After four days of constant rocking and rolling we finally reached South Georgia yesterday afternoon around 4:30.
The ship movement has been quite violent at times. Our port hole covers have been down all the time. In spite of this,
our room stewardess, Mary-Ann carefully closed the drapes at night when she turns down the beds and opens them again
in the morning. Yesterday afternoon we encountered a strong wind from the port side that caused the ship to heel. Water
ran out of the shower drain and on to the bathroom floor. We also encountered heavy, blowing snow. It's Spring here
below the Equator.
When we arrived we followed the coast south until we reached Cooper Bay with the intention of doing a zodiac ride.
The wind was too high so we went on to Drygalski Fjord. This is a steep-sided, narrow inlet that terminated in Risting
Glacier. After the close approach we pirouetted and went back to Cooper Bay. By this time the wind had dropped so
that it was safe for the zodiac ride.
The shore was covered with Chinstrap, King, Macaroni, and Gentoo penguins. In addition there were Elephant and fur
seals laying about. The ride was cold in spite of the sunshine.
After dinner at anchor we headed off to pick up some people at Grytviken. We got there at 6 this morning and then went
off to St. Andrews Bay, the home of a large King Penguin rookery.
Access was from a rather steep gravel beach. As a result, the wave surge was large. Another passenger fell when getting
off the zodiac and got soaked. Then, Jodie got knocked down by the same zodiac after she got off and got soaked. They
were both immediately taken back to the ship, along with the ship's doctor. They were met at the side gate by the first
aid team with warm blankets and warm drinks and asked if they needed any help getting their wet clothes off. Jodie went
to our cabin and someone picked up her wet clothes and took them to the laundry. (They were returned clean and dry
the next day.) Patrick, the hotel manager, took her soaked boots to the engine room to dry. Dr. Doug checked her
temperature. I looked at the penguins and the Elephant Seals.
We motored back to Grytviken during lunch and then went to the museum and the graveyard where Ernest Shackleton,
plus a bunch of whalers and one Argentinian serviceman are buried.. The whale processing facility is now off limits.
We couldn't even walk past it on the shore since the snow is still too deep. At the graveyard we watched a smaller male
elephant seal try to sneak up on the small harem of a larger male. He schlepped forward a bit then rested, then moved
again. The larger male was intent on a female who was at the waters edge. Suddenly he spied the interloper and moved
to drive him away. The other male turned and was driven back to where he was. The fresh wounds on his back
suggested that previously he might have gotten closer to the larger male.
We had both lunch and dinner with Richard McKee, the island fisheries officer and his wife, Amanda. He pointed out
that the proceeds from fishing licenses support the patrol boat and the control of poachers. There is a carefully controlled
Patagonian Toothfish (more popularly knows as Chilean Sea Bass) fishery. Through their efforts, the by-catch of
albatross and other sea birds has been reduced to 0 last year. Unfortunately they cover only 200 miles from the island.
Careless long line fishing is responsible for the decline in the numbers of albatross nesting on the island. There is an
organization, the Marine Stewardship Council that is attempting to certify fish that are caught in a bird-safe manner.
Their seal would be placed on the shipping containers. I don't know how the consumer would know if the fish was
certified or not.
11/10. Our lovely Sunshine of yesterday afternoon left us and instead we have winds, cold, and some snow. We are
working our way west down to the end of the island, making stops along the way. The first stop was at Prion Island to
view nesting albatross. It took the shore party quite a while to find a path through the male fur seals. After clearing the
seals, the short climb to the top revealed some juvenile albatross but no adults. There were also some fulmars???
Our next stop was Salisbury Plain, home to countless thousands of King Penguins, and also quite a number of Elephant
Seals and Fur Seals. The penguins were all over the place in small and very large groups. Their numbers spread all over
the plain and up the hills on all sides. There was a creche in the middle filled with the fluffy brown stuffed sacks of krill,
the chicks. Many of the more mature ones were shedding the fluff, some had already changed to adult plumage, with
the exception that the beautiful orange ear patch was a light lemon color.
In late afternoon we arrived at Elsehul Bay at the very western end of the island. This deep bay is home to many nesting
sea birds, some penguins, and the usual Fur and Elephant Seals. Only a zodiac ride was offered, no landing. The
highlight of the ride was an encounter with two Leopard Seals. There was some concern since there were tales of them
pulling people from small boats or zodiacs. There was also a live Elephant Seal laying across a dead one while the
fulmars ??? were consuming the body.
We now face three days of pounding West to the Falklands.
11/13. As it turned out, the seas were relatively calm and the winds were light. We arrived, ahead of schedule, at Port
Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands early yesterday morning. This entire bonus day was spent there. After visiting
the new Visitors' Center at the end of the public wharf we walked to the museum. Along the way we stopped at the
memorial to the Falklands War. It was surrounded with memorial wreaths since last week was Remembrance Week.
Prince Andrew was here, along with many veterans of the war.
The museum provides a nice cross section of things important to the islands, early history up to the war. We encountered
a taxidermist in a little shed in back of the museum. He was preparing a Frog-mouth fish for display by the fisheries
people and was quite eager to tell us how he works. While we were visiting him the sunny skies turned to rain.
After some shopping we went back to the ship for lunch. After lunch more shopping then back to the ship to pack one
suitcase while the ship was anchored.
11/14. Today we arrived at New Island. After picking up one of the owners we went to the north end and landed on a
white sand beach. Our zodiac was escorted to the beach by a pair of dolphins. There was a welcoming committee
consisting of many bold Cara-Caras. A brief hike brought us to a confused bird nesting area. There were Rock-Hopper
penguins, Black Browed Albatross, and Imperial Shags all intermingled and squabbling with each other. A pair of
Upland Geese had unwisely chosen this area for their nest. They were trying to lead their goslings through this fractions
crowd however were stymied by a pair of angry Rock-Hopper Penguins.
We then hiked across the slopes to view some Gentoo penguins and one solitary Magellanic Penguin. There were
numerous Up-Land Geese, some with young. Skuas patrolled the area. We watched a pair of Oyster Catchers quickly
chase off a Skua that passed too close to their prospective nesting area.
While we were having lunch the ship moved to the Settlement, the place where the three island residents live. We hiked
up to another mixed nesting area, this one at the top of a spectacular steep cliff that drops off to the sea. We spotted a
Long-Tailed Thrush on the way back.
11/15. The ship had a delivery to make this morning. One of the naturalists who frequently works on the ship is Peter
Cary. He also own a couple of small islands in the Falklands, Bense and Cliff, and has built a shelter on Bense. His hut
has electricity, courtesy of a wind generator, and he has an Iridium telephone. He has bought one of the old zodiacs from
Lindblad and the ship was delivering it in uninflated, crated form. We approached the island around 6 am. The side gate
was opened and the 800 pound crate lowered onto a zodiac. Almost all the ABs and some of the staff boarded that
zodiac and a second and went ashore. They unloaded the crate in the surf and carried it up to his hut. I don't know how
he is going to inflate it and get it into the water when he wants to use it.
We knew Peter from previous trips and had donated to his organization, SAFER, so it was good to see him when he came
on board for a brief visit. He will work on the ship during the Antarctic cruises this season.
We then went on to Westpoint Island for a very long, windy hike to a mediocre colony of sea birds, much like we have
already seen however smaller and less accessible. At the end of the hike we visited the home of Rod and Lil Napier, who
own the island. We had tea and goodies. Since the collapse of the wool market, the paid visits of ships like ours are a
major source of support for these outlying farmers. They have electricity, wind generated and also gasoline back-up,
and telephone service from Port Stanley.
In the afternoon we went to Carcass Island for a long hike across the island to view a wide variety of birds. Afterwards,
tea and incredible goodies at Rob and Lorraine McGill's home. In both homes, we were in the kitchen, a large room with
a large table in the middle which also has various stoves, propane and wood. The sink and refrigerators are in another
room adjacent to the kitchen.
We went back to the ship to finish packing and to prepare for the Captain's Farewell Cocktail Party and Dinner. Both
Jodie and I selected sea scallops for our dinner entree. I had 1« scallops on my plate; Jodie had 2«. This was a fitting
final meal since almost all the meals were of good quality ingredients but strange and poorly prepared. (I lost 5 pounds
on the trip, not from excessive exercise.)
11/16. Off the ship at 8 am in Port Stanley. At 9:30, after tea at the Upland Goose Hotel, we boarded the bus for the
over one hour ride to the RAF field at Mt. Pleasant. The check-in process for the LANChile charter was quite slow. All
checked baggage was X-rayed. They could not check the baggage on thru to LAX even though we were on a subsequent
LANChile flight since they have no link to the company computer system from there.
The charter flight arrived, bringing the next set of passengers for the Zegrahm charter and we finally boarded and left
around 3 pm. We arrived in Santiago around 7 and did not pass through Immigration since we were leaving at 10:30
pm. We eventually encountered a LANChile counter where we were issued our boarding passes. Since we still had not
encountered our checked luggage we asked what was happening with it. The agent took the numbers of the luggage tags
issued at Mt. Pleasant and said she would have them retagged and bring the new tags to us in the business lounge. She
never did so I finally went to the desk and asked where the tags might be. Eventually I was told that I could pick up the
tags at the gate. When we got to the gate I was met with vacant stares however eventually I was given three tags. When
they couldn't find the fourth they told me to file a claim in Los Angeles. The fourth bag arrived with the other three in