The Longest Day

58° 15 minutes South 156° 00 minutes East

It is mid-summer day, the summer solstice, the longest day. However it is only the longest day in terms of daylight, it is still only a tedious 24 hours like any other day and yet another full day at sea. Actually in terms of daylight it is probably shorter than other days we have had, since the days get longer as you go south and we are a long way north of our southernmost point on this trip.

The sea is slightly calmer, although not into the category of calm that I could spend hours at the computer editing a video.

The lectures are back on again and start with part two of the seven part series on Scott and Amundsen, followed by (wait for it) a lecture of the language of ice, definitions of snow, ice and icebergs. (This really is going to be the longest day.) The day concludes with a lecture on Antarctic artists and art. Spare me. I think this is all a bit cruel since we didn’t make it to Antarctica. It is rubbing salt into the would, like saying “Here’s some other parts of it you didn’t see.” (Katya gave a talk the other day on whales, where the description of every species was preceded with “This is another one we haven’t seen”.) I would like some information on where we are going. How about “Port of Bluff – Southern Excitement”, “Stewart Island for Dummies”, or “Interesting Street Signs of Invercargill”. Or even the passengers giving travelogues of their home towns. Anything but another fucking talk about fucking Ant-fucking-arctica.

There must be something pagan we can do to celebrate mid-summer. And pagan things usually involve nudity, so that might be interesting.

The cabin-fever is truly settling in and the only alternative to bitching about it on the computer is to curl up is the foetal position on my bed and hope it will go away.

Call me paranoid, but someone is watching me. If the maids have not been able to make my bed because I have been in it, the next time I leave my cabin for more than five minutes, the bed is made when I get back.

I was feeling unwell around lunchtime and couldn’t finish my cold tuna spaghetti salad (although I did polish off the blueberry muffin). When we stared the trip the food was absolutely magnificent, however the quality has declined for three reasons. Firstly, we are getting used to it and it is no longer a surprise. Secondly, the fresh food has run out as you would expect after two weeks and so the chefs must deal with frozen or packaged food. Finally, to cut waste, most meals are made from the leftovers of the previous days meals. As the seas rise and less people appear for dinner, there are more leftovers and therefore subsequent meals are less inviting. This then becomes a positive feedback loop or a vicious cycle, whichever term you prefer.

I got another patch from doctor as the efficacy of the one I had began to wain after three days. Unless there are rough seas from the Auckland Islands to the land of the wrong white crowd, this one should see me through the rest of the trip.

It is now 1530. The wind has picked up and the ship has acquired a wretched (or should that be retching) roll. The lecture theatre has been declared a hazard and therefore part 37 of the 53 part series on Douglas Mawson’s toiletry habits has been postponed as has the slideshow entitled “Sea-lion Sphincters – Mighty muscles of the Southern Ocean.” Damn, my sphincter was tight with anticipation over that one.

Mother Nature is such a bitch. Not content that we are confined to a boat for days on end, she then whips up the sea to make any entertaining activities either dangerous or nausea-inducing.

It is now easy to see why the Scientologists run many of their high level courses on ships at sea. Not only are international waters a convenient way to avoid troublesome tax and legal authorities, the sheer tedium of life at sea will make you want to go to lectures about aliens blowing up volcanos. What’s more to make sure your brain has some stimulation (no matter how stupid), you will also believe the lectures.

Things that were previously considered stable and secure (my mind notwithstanding) have started to fall to the floor of the cabin and the period in which I can type without involuntarily changing the colour and viscosity of the keyboard, is nearing an end.

More words as (and if) something happens.

At dinner tonight someone said they were meeting their husband at Invercargill and they were told the shuttle bus to the hotel and airport was at 0830. At least one other person is booked on the 1400 flight to Christchurch with a connection to Sydney. This is the plane before the one I was going to get. When I get to the airport I will try to get on the earlier flight. Worst case, it is full, second worst case, I get to Christchurch earlier but still have to overnight there, best case I get back to Sydney on 27 December. This would mean Sue would have to pick me up a day early, but I am sure she won’t mind.

The voyage has been smooth for the last hour as the ship changed course for smoother sailing over dinner. We will shortly go back on course and the rolling will recommence.

Ironically, the seasick medication just made me throw up. One of the side effects is that it makes your mouth and throat very dry. As a result I have had a sore throat caused by congealed globules of mucus forming in my throat that have to be coughed up. In my last rather vigorous coughing session I manage to cough up both the mucus and my chocolate dessert.

We should hit the Auckland Islands just before midday on Friday, which is about 40 hours away. It might be more comforting now to talk about dry land in terms of hours away, as the count-down will change more often.

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