In The World - Active & Traveling
Atlantic Crossing
Home | Adventure Honduras | Travels 2007 | Travels 2006 | Personal | Projects | Contact


World Trip 2006

 

Atlantic Voyage – Lisbon to St Maarten

 

24th October –Lisbon, Portugal

 

Needless to say I was up early, had breakfast, packed, and was opn my way to the Star Clipper ship I was to sail on. What a beautiful ship she is – four tall masts and a clipper bow with a dozen sails ready to hoist.  We could  not board until later on in the afternoon so I checked my luggage and another passenger I met, a retired minister from Zurich and I walked down the way looking at the many sailing vessels along the quay. We found a nice restaurant to have lunch and sit and talk.  The afternoon was beautiful as we walked back to the ship. At 16:00 we went on board to a nice reception on the deck, amidships. Clearly we had had too good a lunch so we only nibbled.

 

My objective was to find my cabin which was #104 on the starboard side forward on the lower Commodore deck; I even had a port hole almost at the water line – more about this later.  I did not think I had such a stateroom for it had a nice double bed (too bad there is no woman who wanted to come along), TV & VCR, sideboard, plenty of closet space (as if I needed much), and a nice head with shower/ There was lots of mahogany wood everywhere as befitting a nice cruise ship. Up one deck was the dinning area and above that was the salon area with a beautiful staircase down to the dinning deck.

 

We were supposed to leave port in the evening about 22:00 but the captain decided to leave the next morning since there was quite a bit of wind and swell outside and crossing the bar might be a bit rough. I suspect he did not want to subject the new passengers to such a rough sea at night and it would have been more difficult to cross the bar at night.  Se we had a peaceful sleep this night.

 

25th October –Lisbon, Portugal aboard the Star Clipper

 

So soon after breakfast [a terrific selection of fruit, cereals, juices, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, toast, muffins, bacon, sausage, steak, scrambled eggs, and omelets] we left the wharf and headed down river under the bridge. Well, our ship is so tall that there must be a low tide for us to pass under the bridge. Maybe this was one of the reasons we did not leave last night. At any rate, we sailed under the bridge without hitting it, but it sure looked close. We even had some sails up – The Star Clipper is a four masted staysail barkentine, four square sails on the formast. There is a mainmast, mizzen mast, and jigger mast – each with a staysail and a fisherman sail on the main and mizzen; there are three jibs on the bowsprit.

 

To leave the river we needed to cross the “bar” which could easily be seen with lots of white water. We passed to one side where the channel was and were warned by the captain that it might get a bit rough going across the bar – well, it was.   We were now at sea. There had been about a week of storm that were passing through the area so the sea was full of many whitecaps, rain, and great swells. Of course the wind brought swells from one direction and the normal North Atlantic current brought swells from another direction so the sea was really mixed up.  On we went. We had a good lunch and for dinner I had duck – not a bad life. But, life at sea was only beginning for the next days we were to have rain and rough seas.

 

Needless to say, many on board were not feeling too well, including me. In fact, our bow crashed through several swells and the port bowsprit shroud gave way plus a couple of sails ripped.  Yet, a real sailing start to the voyage.

 

26th October –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

First we headed north a bit to catch more favorable winds and pass around a barometric low area, later on we headed south and put up a couple of the square sails to help our speed.  Naturally, the rough seas we giving us quite a time as we sailed so everywhere we walked on board we need to keep hold of something – one hand for the ship and one for yourself. It was definitely a challenge everywhere one went.

 

I slept ok but awoke early so I decided to get up and take a shower. My first hint of how rough it was, besides having to struggle around the cabin, was that half the time my porthole was under water. It is very interesting to watch the wave come at your port hole, swirl around in it, then bury it as if in a diving bell.  It was not so bad shaving and brushing my teeth but taking a shower in a moving ship is a challenge. – you must hang on with one hand while trying to wash with the other then switch. At least it was good hot water. Alas, the best was yet to come.

 

I went to the dinning room for breakfast under some rough ship rolling conditions. You could see outside that the sea conditions were worse than the night before – there were many white caps and large swells on our bean about 6 meters from trough to peak and foaming at the crest plus the wind was blowing with some small squalls of rain. Needless to say our ship was rolling and pitching. Just about the time I was finishing my bowl of fruit the ship rolled a good 10 plus degrees and all the smorgasbord containers, including the hot trays of eggs, went flying to the deck. Those folks sitting in chairs took a tumble to the deck also. What a mess this was and breakfast was cancelled, well – limited to rolls and toast that was left. I went topside at the midship’s bar where glasses were crashing all about. Below in the dining room dishes, cutlery, and glasses were tumbling off the tables.  Well, as it turns out NOTHING was tied down and there are not fiddles on the tables to prevent sliding off. Up in the bar a large cooler on wheels skidded across the bartender’s pathway. The crew now had a big job cleaning up. The galley must have been a disaster since all I could hear from that direction were the sounds of flying pots, pans, and dishes.  It sure seems that the ship was prepared for such undulations, but what does one expect at sea.  I guess when going between Caribbean Islands the ship does not experience such movement. The crew strung lines along the deck for folks to hang on to.  Our eating dishes now are plastic, drinks are served in Styrofoam cups, and lunch consists of finger sandwiches and bottles of water, at least for the moment. I had sat at dinner the night before with a fellow who was not happy with this ship’s conditions or service – he said that the Windjammer Cruise ships were much better and even had cushions on the deck furniture whereas ours is only hard wood. Ah, well. For a number of folks this is the 2nd and 3rd time aboard this vessel.

 

Hence the day was spent just hanging on and watching the waves and swell roll the ship. Our rolls were about 10+ degrees each way so you can see things were interesting.  My sleep this night was trying to keep from being thrown one way or the other.

 

The big challenge is taking a shower in a very small place with the shop pitching and rolling; trying to hang on while using the soap is a slippery exercise.  Plantingof your feet is critical and leaning with your head against the bulkhead helps stabilize while trying to reach the distant parts of your body. Just as you get soaped up your rump hits the water lever turning the nice hot water to cold, then – of course, you need to make a correction to the water flow while blinded with soap. Alas, after a couple of these exercises you get used to management of all the parameters involved.

 

On board are a number of Germans, some Swiss, Americans, and a couple of French and Australians plus several British folks. So the language of the ship was primarily English but repeated in German.  There some organized activities by the Cruise Director, Caroline.

 

27th October –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

I did find out that they only have an HF radio aboard to monitor 2182kc and to get weather fax.  Perhaps next time I travel this way I could convince them to install an Amateur Radio station.  There are planned activities for the passengers such as, Tai Chi, parlor games, Captain talks about ship operations, and I am sure other things to come.

 

Today seems a bit better with the weather and I was to find out later on that the low will pass us by to the East and we are headed into a high and better sailing weather. Currently, we are motor sailing at about 9 knots. There seems to be pressure on the Captain to get to our destination on the appointed day so that folks can catch their flights – there seems no build in leeway of a day or two so we can really sail – too bad.  Let’s face it cruises are driven by economics; I guess I just did not pay enough.

 

This morning’s breakfast was a dry one of fruit, cereal, toast, and coffee – no eggs yet (maybe they were all broken in the galley disaster). Let’s hope the breakfast and lunches get better.  I hope the ship’s company learns about how to rig and set up a ship for open waters.  Today they had the mizzen staysail on the deck for repair – they have to put in a new panel since the old one ripped right in the middle, just rotten. This kind of gear failure worries me a bit since I doubt if they could really sail with sails alone. Oh, yes, there was a loose life boat banging that needed to be secured. Ah, well. Ship care and maintenance is difficult and expensive. On the other hand this ship seems a good one but just needs a little care and new fittings.

 

Today has turned out bright and sunny. I had a chance to use a sextant that one of the other passengers brought along so we had some fun determining our LAT and LONG.  I have had the course but never the experience so this was just great and we did not do poorly after checking with the bridge as to where we really were.

 

Still the weather is a bit rough and we again have finger sandwiches for lunch but we did sit for dinner but the cutlery was handed to us and we had to take care to hang on to our plates. One the other hand I was feeling much better and woke up really wanting a good breakfast but that was not to be.  So on we go to the South West towards Madeira.

 

The fellow with the sextant, Bob, and his wife Jackie are from the Great Lakes and he is a sailor – there are a number of yachtsmen on board.  While the passengers is a an older crowd, typically over 50 if not 60, there are a few single women in their 30’s. On is Karen from the UK, she is keen on horses and has 8 of them  but also likes travel and SCUBA diving; she is very nice and good fun. Another nice younger woman is from Germamy, Petra. Then there is Tate, a 90 year old pilot and his much younger wife, Robyn, who is a pilot for Northwest Airlines. Bruce is a a retired fireman and lives in the California gold country. Then there is Susan who was born and raised in Kenya, who now lives in Germany, has property in Spain, is a widow, and worked for IBM as a programmer in RPG and COBOL for many years. There are many others I am getting to know but cannot keep all the names at my fingertips.

 

 

28th October –Star Clipper stops at Madeira

 

This morning the seas have calmed down a bit and we made up some time so we are to arrive at the island of Madeira about 11:00 We did have some rain showers on the way in. In fact there was a larg cruise ship already there so our captain turned our ship around and went into the dock going astern – this is a real trick be we just slipped in behind the big cruise ship and tied up as neat as could be.  I had a good breakfast, finally, so I was ready for a tour of the island. So shortly after lunch a bunch of us headed out on a bus for tour of the island.

 

The island was firs settled in the 14th century and there are still old fortresses in among the town. I could not believe the number of people here, over 100,000 where the industry is primarily tourist.  However, they do grow bananas as a crop and their wine grapes are well known. The landscape is quite mountainous with rain clouds handing around the peaks. We had a taste of the Madeira wine but it seemed sharp to the tongue – I like California wine much better.  As we drove along through some very nice new condos and homes there was the occasional ancient house with a fallen in roof, but almost all the homes are very nice with a nice car out in front. We drove to some high points and looked down on the metropolis on the hillside living in the Atlantic Ocean – the island belongs to Portugal.

 

The bus dropped us off at the gondola tramway so Karen and I, along with some others from the ship, took the ride up the mountain swinging over the red tile roofs.  I suspect there is a law that only red tile can be used for your roof.  As we went up it really rained but when we got out the rain had stopped.  Karen had head of a unique way to do down the hill, via basket on wooden sled.  So we walked down the road a bit where we jumped into one of these baskets on skids and two fellows pushed us off then hopped on guiding us, slowing us down, or pushing us faster down this narrow winding street.  I kept looking for the car coming up but fortunately one did not. However, as we approached an intersection a car did pull out in front of us but our talented guides manipulated our basket around it to keep going.  What a ride and certainly unique.  So from about half way down the mountain we walked the rest of the way.  By now the sun was our and it was quite warm.  We stopped for coffee then walked through the town to the ship.

 

Once aboard we cleaned up and had a good dinner with our group. Later in the evening a local folk dance group came aboard and performed some old dances for us – quite beautiful and fun.  Now we waited to leave Madeira for our Atlantic crossing starting at mid-night.

 

Each day the Ship’s Captain gives a little talk on clipper ships from a technical operational or historical point of view which makes sailing the clipper interesting.  OF course, there are the usual “cruise” art classes, Tai Chi, and exercise forums.

 

29th October –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

Today is much better and we have smooth sailing., In fact, the sun has come out and it is actually quite hot.  Given the good conditions our “sports officers” set up a climb the mast exercise. Naturally, I volunteered – as did a number of others – to go up in the second wave of four.  First you put on a safety climbing harness that has a rope to it with a big snap. The next step is to climb up on the ship’s rail, only about 20 feet from the water, and get hooked up to the safety slide that goes up with you … in case you fall it will stop you – so it says in fine print. With one hand on each of two shrouds you climb up the rope rungs, one by one., I really did quite well and just stepped along until about half way up., At this point you have reached a point where the movement of the ship causes the shrouds to vibrate which makes one think twice about this exercise. But, after you keep going towards the goal of the first levels about 40 feet above the deck, it seems to get easier (especially if you do not look down but focus on each step and getting through the hole at the first level., And, so I did – I unhooked from my safety slide and hooked on to the railing.  From this lofty position you can get a great view of the ship and take some photos. Now, of course, unless you wish to eat and sleep up here, you must go down.,  This is really not too bad … one rung at a time.  After I was down safely on deck the accomplishment really felt good; however, I am not sure I am ready to go up the two levels above the one we landed at.

 

Eating aboard the cruise liner is also a challenge to prevent just stuffing oneself with all kinds of great food.  My trick is to use a small plate and try to take small portions for I do not want to gain back what I have lost on my trip,  Yep, I really must join the exercise club.

 

Our evening meal is a good one with swordfish as one of the choices.  There seems to be a group of about 8 of us who get together and the wine flows freely. This is one of the fun times of the cruise.  A little later on we had a fashion show of what is available for purchase in the ship’s locker. Since I have been traveling with very few clothes I decided to purchase a few things for the hot climate we are coming to.

 

30th October –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

Naturally, since I have purchased a pair of shorts and a light shirt this morning and all day has turned out to be cool, rainy, and cloudy.  Alas, we have not reached far enough south yet to get into the trade winds and fair weather. But, the ship’s pool has been filled so things are ready for the heat.

 

The square sails are up as is the main staysail and foremast fisherman sail and we are actually sailing without the engine. We are headed south to pickup the trade winds. However, at the moment we have had some more rain and wind but theseas have not been too bad.  In fact, the sunset was quite beautiful with the clouds on the horizon.

 

AS with most fancy cruise ships we do seems to eat a great deal that includes a late afternoon as well as a mid-night snack.  The ritual for lunch is smorgasbord with a large number of salad, main course, dessert, and cheese courses.  For th evening we sit and choose from a menu and are served, rabbit was on the menu this evening along with neat desserts such as cherries jubilee.  Yet, it is a tough life aboard.

 

Now I need to get on with my Tai Chi and walking a mile on deck to counteract all the food.

 

31st  October –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper = Halloween and the ship is decorated

 

Today it has turned windy again with a large number of white caps and we sail before the wind.  During lunch, with the sails up, we hit a squall plus a gust of wind which really put the ship over a bit, but we held onto our dishes and in a few moments all was right.  Most of the night and this morning the wind has been blowing about 30 knots.

 

I did well today since I did the mile walk around the moving ship -10 full laps around the main deck. Keeping balance and bucking the wind as we walked increased the energy output.

 

The evening was quite a Halloween celebrations with many getting dressed up in costume; apparently a number of folks brought things to wear. I might have improvised but my head cold was getting to me so I just watched.

 

1st November –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

I was up and ready to do Tai-Chi this morning.  This exercise is a good way to start the day – maybe we ought to do this in Waldport.  I remembered much of it from my time in China. Soft Chinese music played in the background. Mind you, the movements are not always easy on a moving ship.

 

It is still cloudy and plenty of white caps this morning. However, by late in the day the sea had settled down and there was only a warm breeze blowing – great for just watching the horizon and dreaming.  Now it is time to listen to our piano player then off to dinner.

 

Thisgs are pretty quiet as we sail along so I am just relaxing and reading – a good change from my travel pace.

 

2nd November –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

Only on the sea can one get such a wonderful feeling – for this morning the sea was very calm with only a slight breeze causing a beautiful small ripple across the small swell; there are only a few white puffy clouds on the horizon. The sun is bright and warm.  This serene setting coupled with the Tai-Chi had a serious tranquil effect. The salt air adds to the ambience of the sea providing a refresh feeling. 

 

Life aboard our ship is great. Each day there are numerous activities beginning with Tai-Chi, a Captain’s talk, three great meals plus ac couple of snack times, an afternoon mile walk, climb the rigging session, special sessions by passengers – yesterday a woman talked about and showed slides of her visits to Pitcairn Island; the woman and her family had sailed around the world taking over three years to do it (her kids did not suffer one bit by lack of a formal education and today they are PhDs – then ending the day with an ancient seafarer’s hymn and the Captain playing his bagpipes. In the evening there is always some activity after dinner, last night is was a music quiz – I got one right.  In the middle of the day it seems most just lazy in the sun reading books and today they filled the pools for those who wish to splash around. Yep, it is a tough life here in the middle of the Atlantic.

 

Two Aussies at a regular dinner table, Paul and Marlaina, have inspired a special hat day for next Tuesday noon to celebrate the Melbourne Cup race – each of the 7 of us will dawn special hats. Monday will be a work day for us to prepare our hats, this should be good. This evening was the talent show and many in the ship’s crew put on a great show – singing and dancing; a Thai gal danced the traditional Thai dance and four Philippinos danced the bamboo rhythm dance. It is sort of wild to think that all this frivolity is happening in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The bar goes 24 hours a day so bear and drinks flow freely.

 

 

I took some time-out to walk over to the ship’s rail and just look out onto the night sea, it is beautiful. Dark it is except for a small bit of light from the moon. The waters are quiet now with large undulating rollers that are very shallow making the sea very flat and glossy. As I look down at the ship gliding through the water almost silently towards our destination, I can see the foam from the bow wake whiz by. This goes on hour after hour.  The feeling is elating and causes thoughts to flow about many things in my Life, now – of the past – and for the future; it is calming. I suppose many folks would not feel comfortable in the middle of the ocean out of sight of land, lights, and people but for me it is relaxation and release. The warm night air does a lot for the ambience. On the other hand, even when the waves were large and pounding at our hull there is a certain elegance about the sea and definitely a respect for it. The sea is a special place to be and on we go to the new world.

 

 

3rd  November –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

Yet another nice day, it is.  As we go south the temperature and humidity are rising – the sea is calm with slow undulation of swells. We continue to head West at 270 degrees heading staying just north of a low pressure area.  Once again Tai-Chi, reading, and a lecture during a relaxed day.  They filed the pools and I think tomorrow I shall take a dip, but it is pretty exciting since the pool water sloshes around with the ship motion.

 

After dinner we had a special classical piano concert by our resident pianist, Ivan from Bulgaria. He played two of his own compositions – he is quite a talented person.

 

4th  November –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

Morning at sea – The sky is pale blue above the dark blue sea and off on our port quarter there is a rain squall. The clouds about the disturbance are puffy and dark but at the edges, with the sun behind, is a glistening luminescence giving a sense of something special.  Looking around the other directions are clear as far as the eye can see, some clouds scattered here and there. Our ship is all alone out here in the peace and quiet.  During Tai-Chi this morning as we moved slowly to mood music in the background I glanced over the rail to see bright flashes of light coming from the small waves as the sun’s rays bounced off them. The combination of movement, music, sea reflections, and endless horizon does bring my mind to a restfulness not found on land.

 

Suddenly the ship came to a stop here in the middle of the Atlantic. It was announced that a dive team needed to check the prop since was an apparent change of engine noise and the chief engineer wanted to make sure the prop was not fouled.  An inflatable boat was lowered and members of the “sports team” used their diving gear to take a look. All was clear so we are on our way again.  Well, it is calm and who cares if it is the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

 

I finally broke down and purchased a swim suit  to go surfing in the aft deck pool.  It is sort of wild in the pool with the water sloshing around and setting up quite a pool wave, but the salt water swim felt good.  There is a fresh water shower next to  pool to rinse off before drying out in the sun and it does not take long. With the warm sun I need to watch myself from getting burned, but does the sun ever feel so good.

 

As we sailed this afternoon we were weaving out way through a number os squalls but one of them we went right through and the rain just drenched the ship.  Luckily the little be of roughness and rain came just after we had an on deck buffet dinner. We have some sail up which causes the ship to heel and prevents severe rolling.

 

For dinner most people dress up a little bit – at least pants and a nice shirt. This evening at my usual table we were celebrating Paul’s birthday, starting with Champaign in the piano bar lounge. During the meal this was, of course, followed by several bottles of wine – good wine; each pour we were given a fresh clean glass – at one point I counted over 30 glasses on the table of 9 people.. With great gusto we toasted using Paul’s method of CONTACT – response= CTONTACT – LIFT OFF (UP SHE RISES) – and HEY! with glasses held high.  A chocolate mousse pie finished our meal – great fun.

 

The evening’s activity was a presentation by our local artist of his modern works but the abstraction did not turn me one so I opted to just sit on deckin the warmth of the evening.  The night on deck was fantastic with an almost full moon and puffy white clouts in the sky – few environments could give such pleasure to just watch the world turn and think about nothing or something, every refreshing.

 

I am really playing tourists and purchased a neat wool sweater for the Oregon cold and a painting print of the Star Clipper for my wall at home.

 

5th  November –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

This morning we are are 22  deg N 43 deg W, midway across the  Atlantic. The wind is from  the North at about 8 knots, not enough to sail by so we are under power to arrive on time in San Maarten. I wish they has allocated 2-4 days more, even at passenger’s expense, to do more sailing.  It seems the low pressure areas have dissolved and there is no concern for a large storm. Hence, we are just cruising along in the warm sun under blue skies working our way south a bit. It seems that most folks’ bodies have adjusted to the pitch and roll of the ship and all are eating well.

 

This afternoon I gave a presentation on Mongolia complete with a slide show. With the exception of a little technical difficulty with the projector my talk went very well and was well attended.  Of course, I used all my Toastmaster skills and had compliments from many people over the next day, very gratifying.

 

As we went into the evening there loomed dark clouds all around us once again – the wind had picked up to 20 knots but was just off the starboard bow making sailing a bit difficult. In fact, we have not had good sailing weather since we left – but we glide along with our engine at about 7 knots. The full moon came up off the stern as a bright orange ball – just beautiful. The afternoon weather is nice and warm but as we approached the clouds the evening turned a bit cool and windy. This evening we had a Cabaret performance by passengers and crew of several skits and musical pieces – this ship seeps quite lively.

 

Right after dinner we had a special ceremony where many of us wrote a message and included some money stuffed into an empty wine bottle and corked.  We then threw the bottle overboard to turn up somewhere in the World, hopefully to help someone and gain a reply.  I am sure the environmentalists would not be happy about this. Ah, well.

 

Once again we must set our clocks back one hour.

 

6th  November –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

Today is quite overcast and we even with through a small rain storm, all part of the experience. I spend some time on deck after Tai Chi  just being lazy under the UV since the sun was not out and went to a couple of talks. Now it is time for lunch and a lazy afternoon followed as the seas calmed down and the sun seemed to get warmer.

 

Just before dinner many of us were on the foredeck and bridge watching for the sunset. The sky was almost clear except for a few clouds on the horizon, right where the sun was to set. This set up for a beautiful picture as the clouds turned pink and glistened at the edges.  One great fortunate phenomenon happened that is very special and only occurs under special atmospheric conditions. In this case the distant clouds had a small open space between them and the ocean horizon. As the sun slipped behind the cloud it emerged just blow it and began to sink into the horizon. For many of us this was very exciting and we all watched with anticipation of a special sight. The sun was now more that half way below the horizon and the murmur among us was taking place that we all should look without blinking towards the sun for in about 30 seconds age special occurrence would happen. We all watched in anticipation … then in a flash, a half second, the BLUE GREEN flash of light occurred.  Some had blinked and missed it but it was there bright as could be. Apparently, many have not seen this flash since it requires a clear horizon as seen on the ocean. For those who doubt that it exists, just look up the GREENFLASH in GOOGLE and read about it on one of many sights listed. This was a cap to a beautiful evening at sea. We glide along now without much northerly swell and almost no wind.

 

Walking around about the ship is sometimes tricky, especially when it is rolling – you must hang on with two hands all the time and watch your step. Going up and down the stairs can be a challenge. Also, throughout the ship in the passageways and at almost every doorway there is a large threshold that you must step over. After a while you get used to doing this but there are times when even I had to concentrate on my walking through the ship.

 

7th  November –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

I was up very early this morning to see the sunrise at sea.  It was black when I reached the bridge and I could see the bright full moon as well as Polaris, the Big Dipper, Orion – just fantastic against the dark sky. I went aft to get a cup of tea and a breakfast roll then sit down to watch the emergence of the sun. There were some clouds on the horizon which made it very interesting. At first I could  small thin horizontal slivers of bright orange on some clouds. Then, slowly came the large orange ball of sun gaining brightness buy the second. As it passed behind the cloud I could see the dark mass light up at all its edges as if I had switched on an indirect light fixture in my home. As the sun emerged from the cloud I could feel the warmth fill my body and a new day was beginning.  During Tai-Chi the sea was very bright with the sun’s reflection dancing on the waters.

 

We are now only four days from landing at San Maarteen, the end of a good voyage across the Atlantic.  I was quite taken with the mix of passengers and the camaraderie among them, there were almost no exclusive cliques that formed – communication was good and I have made a lot of new friends.  I have taken on the challenge to find a way for the passengers to post some of their photos from the voyage for others to see since there is a good sense of wanting to share our experience.

 

This afternoon we had a monumental activity.  The sun was bright in the sky and the sea without white caps but with some swell and our ship came to a stop in the middle of the Atlantic and an announcement was made regarding a special opportunity.  Two gangways were lowered with the lower platform just at sea level; the crew launched one of the inflatable boats that came to the side of the ship where it picked up a long line that had some floats attached to it and hauled it into position away from the ship.  Yep, you might have guessed it, we were invited to take a swim in the mid-Atlantic Ocean.  It seems almost every passenger took advantage of this opportunity. Slowly, I went down the gangway and with a burst dove in tohte ocean expecting it to be cold. To my surprise it was quite warm since we were now in the southern latitudes. So I swam out into the Atlantic – what a feeling and certainly unique; there were over 100 of us who took advantage of the swim.  Now to get back aboard there was a good meter swell running creating the challenge. Looking at the waves and timing it as best I could I waited until the swell came into the ship then grabbed the gangway and its lowering line and just stepped aboard. This was yet another first for my in my World trip, but that is what travel is all about – people, places, and new activities/experiences.

 

If that special activity were not enough, a little later on there was a great gathering at the bridge of the ship. The officers were dressed in their formal whites and our musician was ready to play his electronic piano. Then from amidships came the sound of the Captain playing his bag pipes and coming forward. Behind him was the lucky woman; they processed to the bridge and stood near the helm. A shipboard marriage was about to be performed.  The sunset could not be more beautiful showing its bight orange and red color through a few scattered clouds. The Captain proceeded to perform the ceremony that included a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers that had been kept for the occasion. It appears that this couple had met while working together in a film studio and the groom had made a documentary of the Star Clipper the year before. Upon having dinner with the Captain some time ago this ceremony had beem planned . Needless to say this was another special activity that not many ships have.

 

8th  November –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

Early in the morning I was awakened by a serious pitch and roll of the ship.  Fortunately, it did not last long and by breakfast time the sea was again calmer with only a few whitecaps and again a beautiful sky. Alas, we had just passed a short term weather spot. Now onward we sail towards the Caribbean and since we have some wind many of the sails are up and drawing..

 

This ship has two pools, one aft and one amidships. The one in the middle sits right above the central stain case from the piano bar lounge down to the dining area and has port holes in it for light as well as watching swimmers above. – interesting.

 

Tai Chi is turning out to be very good and I like it. Now that we have been at it for a number of days I am very used to doing it as the ship’s deck rolls 10 plus degrees. The morning views of the ocean as we go through our exercises really lends a positive ambience to the day.

 

\9th  November –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

Today is another beautiful day at sea. My sole duties are to rest, swim, and take in the sunshine.  The Tai Chi is turning out to be a nice way to start the day and I shall have to continue it. Our Tai Chi routine is,

       Warm up with Stroking the head & face, stroking over the head and around the neck, massage the top of the head, massage the back of the neck, massage the base of the nose, massage the chin, pull at the bottom – top – and back of the ear, massage the bottom of the ear, move the head from left to right then right to left breathing in at the extreme and breathing out as you move your head to the other side, follow this with the same motion but stretching the next as your move your head form side to side, stretching the head to the left then to the right, stretch each finger of each hand and pull each finger with of each hand, swing the arms higher and higher, tap up and down the arms, massage the underside of each arm, shake hands and feet, and tap the outer then inner sides of your legs.

       Exercises include raise and lower arms in front of yourself, raising your arms expanding them to both sides, rainbow movements of your hand to the head stretching the other and changing them as your breath in going one way and breathing out going the other, parting the clouds by stretching your hands high above your head and bringing them down as your breathe out, rowing by raising hands above your head and sweeping down in front of you towards the floor and back up, moving a “ball” from one side ot the other as you breathe in then out, expand each arm in turn to your back, fending off by pushing one hand at a time our away from you, stroking the horse’s mane and looking at the horizon moving from side to side, stretching up and scooping up sand on the floor, pushing back waves with both hands to one side then to the other, punching from the waist with one hand then the other, fly like and eagle stretching your arms up and then down to your sides, turn like a wheel with both hands up and around down to the floor each way, fly like a pigon moving your arms from a together position in front of your spreading them towards the back, and life hands up and push down.

       Each exercise is repeated 6 times and your breathing is in cadence with your movements.  By expanding your breathing ought to help your lungs.

       All this is done to soft mood music: Ref = DVD IMC vision imc342D Intro to Tai Chi Chihung, Nem sonia Tain Chi CD 873121-2, VTM Arnd Stein Paradies ISBN 3-89326-934-7, and Laserlight Summer Solitude LC 08259

All this is most interesting on the mind and body.

 

After a little swim challenging the surging in the ship’s pool I took a shower and went on deck to watch the sunset at sea, such a sight that creates a demand for meditation and serenity of spirit with a awe for all that is around us. Alas, the horizon was not clear so there was no Green Flash – maybe tomorrow night.

 

Now it was time to get ready for the Captain’s Dinner, a formal occasion on board. So, I put on my slacks and dress shirt plus a tie even.  Almost everyone was dressed up, many in jacket and tie – the waiters in bow ties and the maitre’d dressed in a tux. One could tell that the evening was going to be a good one. At the Captain’s table were special invited guests and the rest grouped in friendly groups for the dinner. First some salade then some Tomato-Vodka sorbet.  There were several main courses but the one I chose was the Lobster, yes real and quite fresh lobster served in a beautiful way. Next champagne was passed around for the toast following the Captain’s talk. Then, to complete the meal the waiters came out to a singing chant carrying flaming Baked Alaska. This certainly marked the notion of a super cruise liner.

 

Captain Klaus is from Germany but lives in Scotland, he has many years at sea and a great amount of experience.  He is one of the finest skippers I have seen, certainly a top ship’s captain, plus a unique quality that really sets him apart – a real leader and people person. He always has time to chat with anyone and loves to give talks on aspects of the sea and voyage, bet it direction, weather, waves, or history of seaman & ships. He particularly good with his crew and ensures a good operational ship that is very friendly to its passengers. Of course, his experience and knowledge has directed our cruise, despite some setbacks, rough seas, and no wind most successfully to arrive even a little ahead of time so we can go out into the boats to take photos of the ship form a distance. Certainly, stopping in mid- Atlantic for a passenger swim was great. He has done everything possible under the conditions to make the best possible voyage for the passengers. Anyone could sit and eat with him during meals, should they want to.

 

The passengers on board really formed a “family” atmosphere of easy communications and getting to know each other. Naturally, there were several strangers who met and formed a new couple in Love. The duration of 18 days is just right for getting to know fellow passengers, There was the count and countess, a well known sports announcer/producer, professors, artists, Tai Chi expert, musicians, retired bankers, international investors, major airline pilots, retired fireman, and folks who could have kept giving interesting lectures for the next two weeks.  These people were from German, the US, Canada, Finland, and even a group from Perth, Australia.  The crew was from the US, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Our ship felt like “home” and we, as a group, were “owners” of the ship.  A bunch of the passengers were sailors with lots of sailing experience, including one woman who had sailed around the world. It is almost sad that tomorrow we shall depart for our many different destinations; however, there has been a great exchange of addresses – one lives near Tucson and another in Northern California where I expect to visit one day. This is the beauty of travel and adventure.- there is nothing like it and each accepts the other independent of personal situation. I was always enthusiastically invited to eat with just any group of folks and our stories and backgrounds we would swap throughout our meal

 

10th  November –At Sea Aboard the Star Clipper

 

Today is the day we arrive at the island of San Maarten and in the morning we shall leave. It is sad but happy occasion.  Hark, the Caribbean islands can be seen, a welcome sight after 16 days at sea – I wonder how Columbus felt? It is clear as usual and the islands are nice and green. We sail up towards the Dutch side of San Maarten and since it is calm all the sails a put up and life boat launches are put in the water.  We can now ride out in them to take photos of the Star Clipper with its full suite of sails up. It is afternoon and the sun’s rays are long and make the ship look fantastic. I was able to get good photos from the sunny side as well as the silhouette side of the ship and from the stern and bow –  these ought to prove good shots for reproduction. We returned on board and I took a swim before dinner

 

It was a happy and sad dinner. The Captain gave a short speech since he was getting off the ship and retiring from service, once again.  For all of us it was good to contemplate heading home again but on the other hand it was sad since the passengers, and crew, had developed good relationships – almost as a family.  Full names and addresses were exchanged everywhere; new friends were made, new loves developed, and many personal connections made that will last a lifetime.

 

It was dark now and we ship was decorated with lights on all the spreaders plus a long string fore and aft – we looked beautiful and as we sailed by some large cruise liners we could see the camera flashes. We were in the outer harbor when we swung about and anchored until morning.  Needless to say it was a quiet night without much of a ripple and I sort of missed it.

 

11th  November –At San Maarten Aboard the Star Clipper

 

After breakfast each of us began leaving our Star Clipper ship, sadly. In some ways I wished I could just have kept on sailing.  I went to the airport and checked in then walked about the area since my flight did not leave untile the afternoon.  This was a special day for the Island and everything was closed by government decree – this was a holiday celebrating the French and Dutch mutual arrangement of 16xx, obviously a special day since the shops do not close of Christmas day.  Then too the Dutch Queen was visiting and a new airport building had just been dedicated.

 

I climbed aboard my flight San Juan ending my Atlantic crossing. Now I am on my final leg home to Arizona to visit with Family then Oregon at the end of the month.