Thursday, 19 December 2013

FRAM means forward!

Today was a very forward day. 231 tired travelers from 15 nations collected themselves on the FRAM and at 6:09PM today, or 1809 in ship-board time notation, we slipped sideways away from the dock in Ushuaia, Argentina and our trip was underway. The weather today in Ushuaia was “pretty good” that is only a breeze when we walked the dock, but not the gale force winds we sometimes lean into when we walk along the water front. The skies were overcast most of the day but cleared and it was sunny while we attended our safety briefing and demonstration. Once the docklines were cast off and with Ushuaia retreating in the background, we were on our way heading eastward in the Beagle Channel. Our next stop and our first port of call will be Stanley in the Falkland/Malvinas Islands. Beagle Channel was first mapped and the depths were sounded by the British survey ship BEAGLE. That ships second voyage to this area is better known, as in was on that globe circling- circumnavigation- that the ships complement included the young naturalist Charles Darwin. The British Museum in London houses the plant and animal specimens plus the fossil samples that Charles Darwin collected on his land excursions in southern South America-the region known as Patagonia.
Tonight the Captain and his staff welcomed us onboard the FRAM. Later we exited the eastern end of Beagle Channel and assumed a northeast-ward course toward Stanley. Tomorrow is a day at sea with lectures introducing us to the history, the sea life and the geology of the waters we will sail across and the islands we will visit.

In closing, this is a very special trip, as history is with us –first-hand -- not from books or via Hollywood movies. We have onboard many Norwegians who worked at the whaling stations on South Georgia Island or on whaling ships that plied these waters. These people are members of the “Friends of the Island -South Georgia” and their prime motivation for this trip is to attend Christmas services at the Whalers church in Grytviken. This approaching Christmas will be the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Whalers church on South Georgia Island. We will be there. All of us onboard are looking forward to both lectures and informal conversations with those folks who over 50 years ago lived and worked in this region.