Thursday, February 26, 2009

February 25 - at sea

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 – at sea
Humid, bright and sunny – we transited the Jomard Channel through the group of islands known as the Luisiade (!!!) Archipelago and began our passage across the Solomon Sea. Tonight the depth of the water will be over 5 miles deep!!

Breakfast in the room and off to “Captain James Cook: The Man and the Myth” lecture with Maritime Historian and Pilot, Captain John Foley. They are held in the Royal Court Theatre and are very well attended. Captain Cook produced charts which were used until the 20th century – not bad when you consider his journeys were from 1768-71, 1772-75 and 1776-80! He revolutionized the standards for hygiene onboard ships, surveying techniques and wrote papers on solar eclipses. He was a calm and humane man whom many state was born in the wrong century. Born in 1728, at age 18 he was apprenticed to a Quaker ship owner in England. At age 27, he commanded his first ship but he wanted to join the Royal Navy. They accepted him as an “Able Seaman” even though his qualifications were far above that level. He married Elizabeth Batts in 1762 and they had six children but none survived their parents, how very sad. His first ship, the HMS Endeavor, was 550 tons (ours is 90,000!), with a crew of 94 and 22 guns. There was enough food for six months onboard, including 5000 liters of beers, 6400 liters of liquor and 4000 pieces of salt beef. Lt. Cook’s first journey was to Tahiti to view Venus, which they would not be able to see again for 105 years. On another voyage, he was in Australia on the exact same route we are traversing now. They saw kangaroos for the first time and reefs, where the ship was damaged by hitting a reef but they were able to plot the Great Barrier Reef to assist ships on future voyages. His second voyage was on the HMS Resolution with the benefit of a second ship sailing beside her, the Adventurer. They actually got within 50 miles of Antarctica! On his last voyage when he discovered the Hawaiian Islands, he was in ill-health and 47 years old. Bligh was with him and after much confusion with the natives on Hawaii, they found themselves being attacked and Captain Cook died at the hands of the natives.

The next lecture was on “NASA – from Golden Age to Middle Age” by Apollo Astronaut Walter Cunningham. It takes 90 minutes to orbit the Earth so they experience 45 minutes of darkness/night and 45 minutes of light/daylight. One hour of light is approximately 5 minutes in space. They could see an iceberg from space which was approx. 43 x 21 miles big – and remember that 80% of an iceberg is UNDER the water!

I did some work and we met friends for lunch in the buffet. Worked for a while in the library and then swam and read by book in the sun!! It was picture perfect at the back of the ship. I love looking out and seeing NOTHING (but water!!).

We were the only people at our table for dinner, which was nice also. Nice to have tablemates but nice to have time alone. We saw the magic show of Paladino, an Italian magician. Tonight is the Big Band Ball in the Queens Room. We met Dr. Denny Whitford, our oceanographer and meteorologist onboard lecturer, and found out he is from Claymont, DE!!! He went to Claymont Jr and Sr. High and then to the Naval Academy -- anyone know him? ??