Every time I think of a boat (and here I was on a small one) I think of a joke told to me by my German Scrub Sister, Hans Hoecker. A British ship was sunk by German U-boat in the Second World War, and the radio operator sent out a distress signal:

Self-portrait in the glass of the ship's compass. Just thinking.
Self-portrait in the glass of the ship’s compass. Just thinking.

“Mayday,Mayday! We are sinking!”

To which the inquisitive German U-boat radio operator responded: “Yes, but vot are you sinking about?”

So the first day at sea en route to the Falkland Islands was pleasant with a slight roll, slight wind and temperatures around 3 ° C and the photographers and birders spent hours at a time on the stern photographing Giant Petrels and Cape  Petrels following the boat. In the wind it was seriously cold and with the rocking of the boat and the wind it was cold and difficult to get good pictures as the birds zoomed past. Fortunately we were not shooting film and could use high ISO and delete hundreds of pictures after each shoot.

There was a Zodiac briefing with Nate Small, Assistant Expedition Leader and a passionate photographer. Then we had a wet-skin fitting session in the mudroom. The mudroom was on the 3rd level and in Soviet days was the place they launched scientific research devices through a hole in the centre of the ship into the ocean. We were told the ship was never used for spying, but now the hole is welded shut. The gangway on the side of the mudroom door had been destroyed in heavy seas on the last trip (what was I sinking about) so we had to use the gangway on the port side. We had to traverse the stern and official smoking area, which was frequented, by Russians and tourists in similar numbers.

Pintadas (Cape Terns) in flight
Pintadas (Cape Petrels) in flight

There were numerous lectures in the Presentation Room on the 2nd level. I went to one and left quickly. Soon after that the room was baptized “The Vomitorium” so my academic days were numbered.

Part of the Oryx Photography Group. Marius Coetzee at the helm.
Part of the Oryx Photography Group. Marius Coetzee at the helm.

So what was I thinking about? In fact, before the trip I had made a list of the pictures I wanted from the trip. This is something that is an obvious life skill but in photography Hannes Lochner, the great Kalahari photographer, showed me how to take business planning into photography. More about the list later, but in the end I got seven out of the nine pictures I wanted just by thinking. Here is my favourite:

No 7 of 9: Penguins on Ice
No 7 of 9: Penguins on Ice
Ocean Notes Day 2
Ocean Notes Day 2

3 thoughts on “My Travels: Thinking or Sinking

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