Ships Passing – Memories of Last Fall’s South Seas Trip on the Eve of This Fall’s Atlantic Adventure

This post surfaced on the iPad like a fond memory from last fall’s South Seas cruise. Since it did not get posted at the time due to spotty internet connections, and since we are about to embark on another journey in the opposite direction that will also have long days at sea, it seems appropriate to post it now.  Details of the upcoming trip are at the bottom.

image-1Day after day at sea, we feel the Pacific take on an enormity and a stature beyond our imaginings. The explorations of Polynesians, the settlements In new places, the voyages of Magellan, Furneau, Cook, all of which we’ve been learning more about in really good lectures in the mornings, seem even more impossible.

We crossed the Equator yesterday, watching the navigational screen go to 00.00.00 and then start back up again to 00.00.01. What took us over the dateline the day before was our stretch westward to Fanning Island, an atoll that is visited seldom and almost never by any one other than Holland America ships and quarterly supply ships. The stays ashore were brief, and the tenders took a long time to load and unload merely because the swell, even on that windless sunny day, was large enough to make the transfer of passengers very tricky

The tide rip in the entrance was fierce. We didn’t go ashore, partly remembering the uncomfortable, almost voyeuristic, feeling we’ve had in places like the San Blas Islands, being part of a herd of giants debarking briefly to stare and then leave, wondering if we might actually sink that delicate place by our sheer weight and density. We listen to reports instead, and imagine the place. Mel Foster, one of the guest speakers we’ve gotten to know, described walking away just a short distance from a group along a path by the beach, stopping, and watching the sand crabs emerge from their holes, inquisitive, defensive.

unnamed-33We’ve done some painting every day at sea. There’s a studio on the top deck in the stern which is open a couple of hours every “sea day.” The couple that runs a watercolor class there encourages you to do what you want, offers some instruction. These pieces we did a few days ago. Tom’s is the dragon. My rooster was done thinking of our dear Roo, given to us long ago by Aunt Esther Strong. He used to come in and roost occasionally on Tom’s desk chair. He met a sad end, we always supposed killed by a wandering dog. Tom used the tail-feathers we found as part of the wand he made himself when he played Prospero.

We posted these on the door of our cabin, partly to help us know where we are when we’re going between decks: Tom’s dragon, my Roo. You can see them from the elevators and the stairs. Several people have said they’ve grown very fond of the creatures and, like us, use them for directional signals.

I draw regularly in my journal, sometimes from a photo I’ve taken, in case the person moves or leaves which they usually do right in the middle of a drawing.unnamed

This person was curled up reading on a couch in the library.

THE NEXT CHAPTER – We depart Portland by train on Oct. 24, 2016 to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. From there we sail Oct. 28 on Holland America Line’s MS Rotterdam for 42 days. Ports of Call include Athens, Corfu, Olympia, Livorno, Barcelona, Alicante, Cadiz, Palermo, Malaga, Casablanca and Gibraltar, not necessarily in that order (see map below). We sail back to Florida by Dec. 9 and board the train back to Portland.


2 thoughts on “Ships Passing – Memories of Last Fall’s South Seas Trip on the Eve of This Fall’s Atlantic Adventure

  1. WHAT??????? You’ll be swinging by ATHENS??????? Can you check the date????? Maybe you can come for THANKSGIVING! xx


    1. Hi Margaret. It’s Tommy. They are due in Piraeus the morning of Nov. 19 and depart that evening (8am-6pm). Barely a whistle stop, in the cruising tradition, but they will have internet connections along the way. Am looking into international phone service for their cell.


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