Helicopter and High Seas

During the night, we knew we had left the relative shelter of the fjords and were once again in the open sea, because the Boudicca was tossed about on the waves like a pea in a drum.  I kept waking up during the night with my bed moving in all directions, and when I needed the toilet I had to hold on to the edge of the bath to prevent falling off.

So when we looked out of our window this morning, we saw grey skies and very choppy seas; there was a large swell and several white horses as far as the eye could see.  I don’t think we’ll be spending much time up on deck today!

In the dining room during breakfast, we took advantage of more free ‘champagne’ and Bucks Fizz, as tonight is the final formal night and FOCL always put out sparkling wine at breakfast time, on all their ships.  I enjoyed three chilled glasses along with a breakfast of smoked salmon, cold meats, fresh pineapple and melon, and strong hot coffee.  A good start to the day.   🙂

After breakfast we had a walk around the ship, or rather a stagger (and it was nothing to do with the breakfast champagne!).  Signs were up at the doors advising passengers not to go out on deck because of the strong winds.  The decks were wet, and it wasn’t raining; it was just the occasional large wave and sea spray.  It was quite amusing watching other passengers trying to keep their balance.  In fact, it’s surprising how much passive exercise you get on a rough sea passage, just with the effort of trying to maintain your balance.

At 11.15am we went along to the Neptune Lounge to see a presentation/interview called “Behind the Curtain” in which the cruise director Elliot Taylor was interviewing each of the Boudicca Show Company, asking them to describe life behind the scenes and why they decided to apply to work on a cruise ship.  The talk was very interesting, especially when they said that it was a very competitive business and there were over 300 applicants for five vacancies.  The overall standard of the entertainment on Boudicca, as well as other Fred Olsen ships, has been absolutely superlative.

After the talk we went and had our lunch and listened to the Captain’s weather and navigational information from the bridge.  We were not surprised to hear that there was a Force 9 (strong gale) to 10 (storm) strength wind and a sea swell of over five metres, as we were still experiencing a lot of ship’s motion.  Several times in the dining room we heard a loud crash as either a passenger or a waiter dropped a tray of crockery.

Afterwards we went and sat by the window in the Secret Garden lounge and had a coffee each.  Despite the high winds and rough seas (or maybe because of them) we saw a huge flock of seagulls following the ship; there were hundreds of them, swooping and wheeling in the wind.  Most of them weren’t even flapping their wings; they were making the most of the updrafts.  There were so many I was amazed there weren’t any mid-air collisions.  The birds stayed with us for a good few hours.

Back in our cabin afterwards, Trevor watched some sport of TV and I just relaxed and read my Kindle.  I am reading Signal Red by Robert Ryan, which is a part-fictionalised account of the Great Train Robbery.  It’s a thick book (over 700 pages) so it’s taking ages to read.

Every now and again, the waves would come crashing off our window with a bang; and to think we are five decks up!

At 4.o0pm I left Trevor to it and went along to the salon to have my hair put up in readiness of this evening’s formal dress code.  It was also Captain Lars Kjeldsen’s farewell cocktail party later on.  Whilst I was in the salon, the captain’s voice boomed over the public address system to say that all passengers were to remain inside and not go out on the decks, as there was going to be a helicopter evacuation!  A passenger was obviously ill, and the rescue helicopter was coming to take them off the ship to the nearest hospital.  Looking at our current geographic location, that would have to be somewhere on the Shetland Isles.

The hairdresser did another lovely job with my hair, and when I went back to cabin 5050 I saw that Trevor had gone, I guessed to see the helicopter rescue.  Going to the window and looking out into the dark, I could hear the sound of the rotor blades.  The pilot must have been really skilled to carry out the rescue from a moving ship, and in a Force 9 gale as well.  We later learned that a lady had fallen and broken her hip, due to the very rough weather.  She was put onto a stretcher ready to be winched up into the chopper.  Now there’s a tale to tell once she gets back home!   🙂

As I was getting ready Trevor returned to the cabin, and was just in time to see the helicopter roar past our window, rotors whirring and red lights flashing.  It went round a few times before eventually soaring up and away.

Tonight I wore a long, burgundy coloured dress with a sequinned bodice and matching jacket, and a lovely necklace made with Murano glass.

The captain’s cocktail party took place in the Neptune Lounge as usual and the bar staff, who knew us quite well by now (!!), ensured we never had an empty glass.  We enjoyed a few aperitifs along with some tasty canapés, then it was time to go for dinner.  The conversation on table #32 was lively and humorous as usual, with one or two risqué jokes thrown in for good measure.

Then it was off to the Neptune Lounge once again for tonight’s variety performance, in which all of the featured entertainers as well as the show company came on and did a stint; we saw the singer, the magician, the classical duo, but not the comedian as he hadn’t been feeling well (not a surprise in this weather).

Then it was off to the Lido Lounge for the quiz as usual, as well as drinking and dancing.  I couldn’t get off the dance floor; as soon as I sat down one of the dance hosts or other passengers we’d got to know would drag me back up again.  I enjoyed lots of (free!) glasses of cava and one or two sangrias and it was about 2.30am before we got to bed.  But we have to put our clocks back an hour tonight, so we’d get that precious extra hour in bed.  Luckily the seas had calmed down a lot by now, so we were just lulled to sleep by the Boudicca’s gentle motion on the waves.


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