Archive for the ‘Orion’ Category

Spinning Yarn: Flying through the Southern Ocean #89

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

 Orion has stabilizers – the wings that extended below sea level, to help balance the ship – so our ride might have been a bit more exciting than we had expected with the high rolling seas, but it was also quite comfortable. As I lay in bed trying to sleep, I imagined any number of wooden ships of the last century – the Discovery, the Endurance, the Aurora, the Terra Nova – all loaded to beyond the crates lashed to the upper decks, ocean water streaming in over the sides of the ship, determined to stay on course and arrive safely in both directions. I imagined the sounds of the creaking boards, the shifting loads, the howling dogs, the scuffling and scrambling of horse hooves, the shouts of the crew, the barked and hurried orders from the Captains, and then heard our own Captain over the PA announcing that the stabilizers needed to be re-set so please either sit or lie down until this had been done by the hardworking and efficient engineering team.

 The rolling seas had exposed the wings, the Captain told us, putting undue twist on the engine when the water took away the resistance. Ten minutes was all the time needed to make the corrections and extend the wings once more. The wooden ships were not so well-equipped

 It was lovely being rocked to sleep.

This is the french barque BALEM from the cover of “” , but you get the idea……..

Spinning Yarn: Off to Campbell Island #88

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

…..which gave us our next destination: Campbell Island. The great walking track that goes all the way to the top of the island is supposed to be pretty spectacular. The harbour is a bit tight for the Orion, but manageable and we would be there for the day before turning our bows to Dunedin once more.

Travelling on the ocean can be an eventful experience at times. When we left Dunedin all those days ago, we had a 3m swell. Reaching Commonwealth Bay generally and Boat Harbour in particular, we had a calm, flat sea. Heading north again, the wind and weather was behind us pushing us forward. And now, on the way to Campbell Island, we had 10m swells. All still in possession of our sea legs, we enjoyed the rolling and swaying – the teenagers on board playing “chicken” with the huge wave coming in over the stern of the ship! (Go figure….) The captain had the doors locked once he ordered them inside.

 I believe the kitchen did not have a good time, however. We heard lots of breaking dishes at the extreme end of several rolls of the waves, and we had to catch our dessert before it literally, hit the deck.

Spinning Yarn: I am surprized #84

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

On Macquarie Island, they spin! I was so pleased to see it. I expected to be able to see the rabbit fur being spun, or the baling twine that washes up on the beach to be collected enough to be spun, or the long grass that grows on the far side to be dried and spun, but no…..It was much simpler than that…..

 Check it out…..


Spinning Yarn: Polar Plunge #77

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

 Anyone for a swim? Brash Ice is very refreshing…..

 Yes, there were some of us that dared to defy reason and sanity, donning bathing suits and safety harness, to “close encounter” the Southern Ocean. Just to say we had done it, I suppose. Wrapped in thick dressing gowns before the plunge, candidates lined up on the marina deck of the ship in preparation for being buckled in to the snatch straps, and to face the deep COLD COLD ocean.

 Cries of “Yeaaahh” resounded on the deck as each person launched from the platform. Cries of “Eeeeeww” echoed back from the upper deck as the rest of us wore their splashes.

Once fished out, the icicles broken off bodies and back into the dressing gowns, the Hot Chocolate was very welcome, as were the warm showers before dinner.

 Back in the warm, in the Lounge, those of us who recorded the event were busy swapping photos and angles ….Smart of me to take photos….

Spinning Yarn: Where the whale was #76

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Brash Ice is, apparently, a good place to find whales doing their hunting. They travel parallel to the trail of breaking ice looking for stray penguins, fish, unsuspecting tourists…. They did not find us, however. (Heheheh)

 All of us had our cameras at the ready, to make a photographic connection with the huge and graceful creatures, but all we found was an old wooden mallet floating, mysteriously, close to the edge of the Brash, which we rescued. We also found a huge piece of Styrofoam – where did that come from?  — which we auctioned off for the Mawson’s Huts Foundation that evening after dinner.

 Some of us were able to spot a whale tail as it followed its owner back into the deep, but, Gee, you had to be quick with the camera….

 PS: Our after-dinner cocktails sported ancient (Black) ice cubes…taken from the Southern Ocean and digested happily in this Century.

Spinning Yarn: Who can see the B9B? #74

Monday, March 28th, 2011

 I asked Harry, from the NZ Department of Conservation who was with us on board, if the quality of the ice is ever tested, and does it indicate any impurities, or age, or anything else. His reply was that the ice is tested, most of it to be found quite pure.

He also explained that Antarctica is divided into quarters (A, B, C, D) and the icebergs are named for their quarter of origin, tracked in their movements and recorded for size and distance traveled.

 There are 2 currents around Antarctica – they flow in opposition to each other, and the icebergs travel according to which current catches them. The B9B has originated in B quadrant, the 9th piece to break off and “B” because it split from “A”. What size must “A” have been?


Spinning Yarn: Ice Blocked! #73

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

 The summer ice Antarctica may well be at the lowest annual level and distance from land, but it is still present and it pays to be ever watchful, not only with eye but also with satellite and radar and all the modern navigation and positioning equipment. Originally planning to visit French Antarctica at Dumont D’urville (about an inch around the coast to the right of Cape Denison) the plan was abandoned due to inaccessibility – they were iced in!

 So was Cap Jules.

 Plan C was the B9B Iceberg, second largest in the world at 100kms long and 6 stories high. Not only can you not miss seeing it, you cannot see all of it all at once…..

 Its form is large and cold and dramatic. The wind was blowing the soft snow off the top, giving the impression of smoke. The colours were amazing – blues, greens, turquoises, jades, gunmetal grey at water level –  and its lines of growth quite visible even from our parking spot in the distance.

Spinning Yarn: The Sun Comes Out #72

Monday, March 21st, 2011

 For our visit, God had blessed us with TWO days of mild weather and no wind. We saw and experienced the Cape in its most welcoming behaviour, loving every minute. As we were preparing to leave on the next part of the trip, the sun broke through the overcast cloud cover and painted with light some of the icebergs in the bay.  All of a sudden, the Bay became the focus of our attention, the playful penguins and somnolent seals were spotlit on Nature’s icy stage, in full view of the 100 passengers and their cameras.

 The Orion weighed anchor and began to move around to the edge of the Bay, making progress towards the next point of interest, the B9B iceberg, one day away, while we the passengers took our evening meal out on the back deck, in the full Midnight Sun.