Land Ho

51° 07 minutes East 165° 57 minutes South. Close to the Auckland Islands

Rodney Russ

Rodney Russ

Well, land is near, not sure about the ho. Last night was an incredibly smooth night of sailing and I was able to sleep almost all the way through. According to the chart (because you can’t just call it a map when you are on a ship) we were travelling in 3500 whatevers (feet, metres, fathoms, the chart didn’t say) last night and now we are in only 500, so the swell has picked up a bit.

Today is my birthday and I finally got to look at what Sue had given me. She recorded an audio message that I had to listen to. Half way through the message I had to open the present and then listen to the rest of the message. I got a block of chocolate, a piccolo of champagne and a small empty cardboard box. The box once contained a diamond ear-ring, but with my record of loosing them, Sue decided to keep it at home and I can pick it up there.

The program for today has been put up and the only activity is a Zodiac cruise at 1345.

It is only two sleeps till Christmas and four sleeps before my own personal Marie Celeste ends its voyage. At least it will be four days of activities.

Ahhh, breakfast beckons!

“So what did you do on your birthday?”, “I filmed two women in their 50s and 60s pretending to have a shower and singing a Rod Stewart song.”

The dry throat caused by the seasickness patch has become infected and inflamed so now I am on antibiotics to fix that. It’s great to have a doctor at call on board. Luckily he hasn’t been needed for anything more serious.

We filmed the mass choir scene of the music video on the monkey deck. This is the highest part of the ship. We got (almost) all the passengers lined up on the port side and had them sing along in what should have only been two takes, one for the wide shot and one for the close-up tracking shot.

As people arrived we showed them the words and let them have a little practice. The Francophones, who will sing at the drop of a hat, launched into a totally different song. Others gathered around to film them, which encouraged them more and nothing short of threatening to throw them overboard would shut them up.

Doug Mawson on Norman InletWe soon had everyone lined up and were just about to start filming when one of the Francophones broke ranks and came out the front to take a group photo. I encouraged her to return to the group “see voo play” suggesting that since we were videoing the scene and everyone would get a copy, she would not only have a group shot, but a group shot with her in it. She returned to the fold, and no sooner had she done so, another Francophone broke ranks. OK, so their English wasn’t good, but they aren’t idiots and they knew what we were trying to do. After swearing at them in French, German and Swedish (in for a penny, in for a pound) and using the international sign language for “don’t fucking move for two minutes while we film” we managed to do the takes.

Luckily we weren’t recording them singing. As we came to the end of the tracking shot, Geoff, who has an annoying dial that is permanently cranked up to 11, started signing “There’s Klingons on the starboard bow……” Good thing I had earlier fitted the dickhead filter to the lens.

Once we had that in the can, we tried to do some of the remaining lines with a Francophone only group. We got some footage and it now lies on my cabin floor (metaphorically speaking).

There is only one line of the song to go and we have reserved this for Rodney and (possibly) the Captain. There is nothing special about the line, it is just the only one not filmed yet and we still haven’t had Rodney’s involvement. He doesn’t seem to like things happening on board over which he has no control.

The 1345 Zodiac cruise was rescheduled for 1400 and left at 1350. It was meant to be a three-hour tour. The term “three-hour tour” brought back visions of “Gilligan’s Island” and so I made sure not to get into a boat with anyone who looked like a professor or a movie star. Thankfully not a difficult task.

Although I longed to get off the ship, 3 hours seemed a long time and a few people piked it. Lack of permits meant we were unable to land today.  My Zodiac loaded up and headed for a point on the coast, where we waited for the others to arrive. The boat drifted against the rocky cliffs of the shoreline and I extended my leg over the side of the boat and placed my foot on solid ground for the first time in 11 days. We boated up one inlet, then out again and along the coast a little. We drew the attention of some seals that started riding the wake of the Zodiacs. We drove around in circles, playing with the seals and the time flew by. I was quite surprised when someone looked at their watch and said that we had been out for three hours.

SkuasWe returned to the ship, and despite having had champagne for breakfast, bought a bottle of champagne from the bar and went to share it with Anne Turnbull, who was also having a birthday. The first bottle went surprisingly slowly, but Anne insisted on buying a second, partly to return the shout, but mainly to survive the unknown horrors of the looming poetry competition. There were about six contestants with a variety of songs and poems and the quality was surprisingly good.  Having already made my contribution via the notice board I didn’t enter. Peter, who sang a song and played the Uke, won the competition with a witty adaptation of an old sea shanty. It was then time for dinner.

For the first time on the ‘expedition’ I returned to the bar after dinner and partly encouraged by a free Glenfiddich from Gemma, stayed until almost midnight.

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