Flying Fish and Rainbows

We got up this morning at 8.20am and got changed into our fitness wear to go along for the Sea Stretch session. There were quite a lot of others there. We spent 30 minutes or so stretching and doing breathing exercises, ready to face the day and whatever pleasures we had to look forward to.

Then we went along to the aft decks to eat our breakfast at the already-crowded outside tables. We spotted an empty table in the corner and when we sat down, I realised why it was empty – it was out in the bright sunshine instead of the shade. The Indian Ocean all around us rippled, glittered and sparkled in the light, and we enjoyed a gentle breeze.

We returned to our cabin afterwards to get changed, then we went along to listen to a port lecture about Durban, where we will be visiting later in the cruise. It was all very interesting. We then went along to the pool deck to have a coffee; it was very hot sitting outside and the breeze made it feel cooler than it was, which could easily lull you into a false sense of security.

We decided to do a few laps around the deck to get some exercise. We went up to the topmost deck, where there is a jogging/walking track and we set off, intending to walk about 10 laps. On the way, however, we paused at the railings to look into the sea, which was a clear blue. There was quite a heavy swell and a few white horses on the waves, and every now and again we could feel the sea spray on our faces and taste the salt on our lips. The sun shone through the spray from time to time, creating myriad rainbows which slowly faded until the next wave was created by the ship’s wake.

It really was quite exhilarating standing there, and we were just talking about how we hadn’t seen any flying fish, which are common in the tropical latitudes, when I spotted the familiar silver movement on the surface of the ocean. Then a couple more appeared and, sure enough, we kept seeing these amazing fish which can skim the surface for a surprising distance.

The flying fish jump out of the water and glide for a short while to avoid predators in the water. However, this makes them perfect prey for the predators of the sky – birds.

As we were standing there, we saw Captain Tkachuk on the deck and went over to have a chat with him. He told us he was from the Ukraine and we spent a few minutes discussing the current troubles the country is having with Russian rebels. Presently he bid us good day and went on his way.

We went back to watching the rainbows and the flying fish and soon we saw a lone seabird swooping and wheeling and gliding on the updrafts and, as we watched, it veered off suddenly and went into a steep dive, levelling out as it got to the surface of the sea. He was obviously after the flying fish. After each unsuccessful dive he would flap his wings to gain height again, before circling round and going into another dive. We watched him for quite a while, but he didn’t catch any fish that we could see, although he had several near misses.

We then remembered we were supposed to be walking laps round the deck! We therefore set off once again, in a half-hearted way, stopping to get a beaker of ice cold water from the thoughtfully-placed cooler. As the sun was now very hot and I could feel my arms starting to burn, we decided to abandon our walk and go down to the pool deck to sit in the shade and enjoy a cold beer. Because of the very noticeable ship’s motion, the swimming pool had been drained and the net stretched over it. So there was no chance of a refreshing swim today.

The afternoon passed in its pleasant way, with the trivia quiz followed by another lecture by Peter Snow entitled When Britain Burned the White House. We enjoyed a couple of drinks and sat for a while, before going back to our cabin to get washed and changed for dinner, which we ate up in the Veranda Restaurant at our leisure, rather than the main restaurant.

The main show in the Darwin Lounge tonight was called Café Swing and was the usual somewhat-uninspriring ‘old fart’ music featuring the Voyager Theatre Company. Then we finished off the evening in the Sunset Club where there was a 60s and 70s disco, before going to bed just after midnight.

Friday, 9th January 2015

Another relaxing sea day. After starting the day with our usual session of Sea Stretch, we had our breakfast on the aft decks then hot-footed it along to the Darwin Lounge to listen to a lecture by Brigadier Hugh Willing called “The Hunt for the Warren Hastings”.

It was a fascinating account of a ship that had run aground off the coast of Réunion Island in 1897. The ship was carrying some valuable silver and an expedition of divers returned to the island in 1977 to search for the wreck, and hopefully discover the silver. But although the divers found the front half of the ship almost immediately and certain items were brought to the surface, they didn’t find the rear half of the vessel, and the riches the ship was carrying remain lost. There’s an interesting Wikipedia about the RIMS Warren Hastings, which you can read here.

During the talk and in the interim period before the next talk, I was sitting doing my kumihimo braiding and quite a lot of people came over, out of curiosity, to ask me what I was doing. I ended up giving a couple of my bracelets away, and I wondered at the feasibility of writing to the cruise lines offering to run kumihimo classes on their ships, as it always creates a lot of interest wherever I go.

The next lecture was by Peter Snow and was all about the Duke of Wellington’s role in the Battle of Waterloo. It was very interesting and Peter’s enthusiasm was infectious.

Afterwards I decided to get some exercise and went along to the ship’s gym for a workout. However, it was quite warm in the gym and it soon became uncomfortable; quite simply, they didn’t have the air conditioning on high enough. So after 10 minutes on the cross-trainer and 10 minutes on the treadmill, I’d had enough.

As it was now lunchtime, we went up by the pool deck to enjoy a light lunch and a couple of glasses of ice cold beer. There was some live music and it was very pleasant sitting on the decks. I decided to stay out of the sun today, as my arms and the back of my neck looked quite red.

And so we passed the afternoon in the usual unhurried way, until it was time to go along and do the afternoon quiz. A couple of ladies joined us, and we scored 13/20, only missing winning by one point.

Then I went back to cabin 4130 where I got showered and washed and blow-dried my hair and read my Kindle. I am reading Perfect Poison by M. William Phelps; it is a true story about Kristen Gilbert, a nurse in America who was going round injecting her patients with epinephrine and causing them to go into cardiac arrest or die. One of the world’s (thankfully) rare breed of female serial killers.

After dinner tonight the ‘show’ consisted of a few numbers by Gerry Atkins, the cruise director, in which she sang some musical theatre ballads. She was a decent enough singer I suppose, but once again she performed to ‘canned’ music and the whole effect was a bit bland. We really are disappointed with the entertainment we’ve seen on the Voyager so far.

Then it was up to the Sunset Club for the evening trivia; we were joint winners (wonders will never cease!) but lost out on the tie-breaker. In any case, the prizes are pretty rubbish; you either win a pen or a notebook – wowee!

After the quiz we got talking to another group of people; I think they were solo travellers who had all met up on the cruise. They, like us, thought the entertainment was below par, and this was then emphasised by the re-appearance of “karaoke” singer Paul Burley, who did a few jazz and swing numbers, none of which were lively enough to tempt anyone into getting up and dancing.

Once the singing was over, the disco started and I got up and danced with Roger, our favourite barman.  😉

We then went to bed about midnight, as we were the last ones out of the Sunset Club and the ship was all quiet elsewhere.

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