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Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 05:00:26

ANTARCTICA & IBERIA 2015: 6 Bouvet Island to Tristan da Cunha

Sunday, April 12, 2015

On leaving ice covered, wave pounded Bouvet Island in defeat we went through a pod of sei whales, adding to our impressive list of sightings of varieties of these huge mammals. We were also escorted by many species of sea birds that nest on this, the world's most isolated bit of land

Getting ashore on Bouvet was the main reason for this the trip, and the reaction of passengers has been varied. Most experienced travellers have taken it well, having been disappointed about not reaching other difficult destinations and realizing we take our chances. Others have taken it less well, one fellow to the point of remaining drunk for some days, to the point where his room mate asked to be moved to another cabin

The disappointment was worsened by an announcement that the landing on Tristan da Cunha will not be possible, as they have a very contagious disease there. Apparently some of the inhabitants on nearby Nightingale and have the disease as well, so it also is off limits. The authorities on Ascension Island have apparently said that if we land on Tristan we will not be permitted to land at Ascension, not an option as many passengers have their flight to England booked from there

Life once again settled into three good and widely varied meals per day, separated by lectures, documentary and entertainment videos, reading, cards and socializing - with beer drinking thrown in, of course. The laundry service on board is quite exceptional, with items being returned in only a couple of hours

We started off in fairly heavy seas that then got even heavier, before they them diminished into rollers that were comfortable to cruise in. We had sunshine for the first time in a few day for our after lunch walk around the deck Thursdays. The ship stopped to repair a leaking gas line for about an hour, but we are still averaging less than 10 knots so I suspect are falling further behind schedule. The company apparently did not allow for bad weather, complete madness as there is always bad weather in the southern latitudes, and when it is rough the ship can't make more than about 7 knots

There have been a lot of albatross following the ship, gracefully gliding on the air currents, providing a great opportunity to get photos of these huge birds on the wing

Standing up to pee has its own challenges in rough seas, but I finally came up with a solution. The forehead is put against the bulkhead that the toilet is attached to, right shoulder against the side wall, the left leg against the edge of the shower, the right leg propped straight back, the lid and seat of the toilet held up by the left hand, leaving the right hand to aim

Each night at about 6:30 there is a recap in the bar held by Jan, the expedition leader, laying out plans for the next day plus summarizing the current one. Last evening found us in heavy seas, so it was announced that as the ship was moving so slowly there would be no exploration of Gough Island by Zodiac - we were supposed to have the better part of a day here. Only weather station employees and scientists are permitted to land on this world heritage site island, but zodiacs can get in close to see things. It was also stated that the situation on Tristan da Cunha had not improved, so there would be no landing on any of the three main islands. A near riot ensued, during which the Jan completely lost control of the meeting. Finally Brent Houston took the microphone, got things under control, and laid out a plan of action that would include landing on one of two minor islands in the Tristan group, and a cruise along th e length of Gough by the ship. He received a large round of applause. Some wit suggested the movie tonight should be “Mutiny on the Bounty”

This morning we arrived off 68 sq km (25 sq mi) Gough Island where a good sized South African weather station employs up to 8 people. The island is green and mountainous, with high cliffs dropping to the sea. It was possible to see the white specks of rock hopper penguin colonies in the distance, and many waterfalls dropping down the cliff face. Once in the lee of the island the winds slowed and the sea calmed a bit. It would have been great for the zodiacs, as we could have come in close to the wildlife

The island has a problem with giant mice that have no natural enemy here. They were, introduced by sealing ships years ago and now attack albatross chicks and eggs. The chicks have no idea how to stop the mice; they actually eat the birds bit by bit while they are sitting on their nests, even when the chicks are very large. Night photos showed up to four mice chewing away on one albatross chick that was simply sitting there looking distressed. There are 22 bird species on the island, so there is talk of trying to eradicate the mice to save the birds. We cruised along the coastline for almost an hour before heading for Tristan da Cunha

Monday, April 13, 2015

It was anther early breakfast as the ship closed in on the Tristan group. Brent had arranged permission from the conservation officer on Tristan, a friend of his, for us to touch land on Middle Island, which is very close to Nightingale Island, for those wanting to say they had landed in the Tristan Group. We waited until the last zodiac, which Brent was driving, before leaving the ship. The permitted landing was completed first, then we spent time cruising along the shore of Nightingale

There are a number of sea caves cut into the rock cliffs, some with varied colours from lichens, birds and minerals. The rocks along the coast were covered with southern fur seals, and a huge number of really cute seal pups, who were frolicking about, playing with each other on the rocks and in the water. Brent backed the zodiac some distance into one sea cave, and near a blow hole in another one that got us splashed when a big wave rolled in, then blew water back out. He also stopped below a collection of small cottages that the islanders use when fishing off Nightingale, and called back and forth to friends on shore, who where trying to talk him into coming ashore for a beer. He couldn't because of the threat of being refused landing on Ascension

It was a great day, with light seas, blue skies and sunshine. Everyone was in high spirits when they returned to the ship. The bar had laid on free sangria and pina coladas to celebrate the occasion. We will now be at sea for about 5 days to get to St. Helena