May 17, 2010 at 2:44 PM 6 comments

Congratulations to young Jessica Watson on her achievement – what a wonderful ambassador for her generation, for Australia and for all Australians.  Well done Jess!

Headbutting the Southern Ocean

I too, have wrestled with the Southern Ocean, however it was not exactly a high point in my life.

My introduction to Cape Horn, along with another 40 or so passengers, including my 23 year old son, was aboard that sturdy little vessel – the “Polar Pioneer”.  Whilst sailing smoothly down the Beagle Channel and with the bravado of a fair-weather sailor, I made some intemperate remarks about rounding the Horn, to my new shipmates.  I stated that my disappointment would be profound and the fares deserving of refund, if it did not live up to its reputation.

At 1.00 the next morning, all hell broke loose.  The ship rolled violently and I was hurled to one end of my bunk, returning headfirst and at high speed, as it rolled the other way.  Then there was the infamous “corkscrew”, when the pitching and rotating “Pioneer” tried to turn itself inside out and me with it, as I clung to all that I valued.  The nightmare lasted forever.

Meanwhile - below decks

My stomach eventually decided that it had had enough.  Rolling out of my bunk, I crawled along the floor and into the toilet, where I grimly embraced the porcelain.  Describing what followed would only upset you – suffice to say, that I had a second look at my dinner of the previous night, plus a few other bits and pieces.  What dignity remained after this performance, was irretrievably shredded, when the toilet light was turned on and my son stood in the doorway.  Full credit to him, in that he succeeded in controlling his composure, when others would have howled with laughter, at the scene with which he was confronted.

With sea legs abandoned, I took to my bunk for a day or two and slowly recovered.  There was one brief  setback when we were being fitted with the gumboots for going ashore.  The lady next to me, waiting her turn, asked if she could borrow my boot and I handed it to her.  She promptly threw up in it and then offered to return it.  Whilst respecting her generosity, I insisted that she retain ownership.

The multi-functional gumboot

I could now see that what had begun as a simple cruise, was to be a voyage of self-discovery.

Three weeks later and in reflecting on the sea journey we had undertaken,  I could but admire those who had, so many generations before, braved this Great Southern Ocean and those who have followed – those like young Jessica Watson.


Entry filed under: Antarctica - Western.


6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Louise @ ahhserenity  |  May 18, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    I sometimes marvel at the ocean and how great it would be to achieve (piloted by someone else of course!) some of the semi-famous crossings – Bass Strait, the crosing between northern Europe and the Arctic Circle… and then I remember how truly awful it would be to be effected by seasickness, the inability to do anything about it and the fact that it would semi-destroy the experience. I will keep on daydreaming!

  • 2. lesliedavid  |  May 19, 2010 at 7:54 AM

    Louise – Hi.
    You are right, there is a magnificence about the ocean that infiltrates our very soul. I hope you manage to achieve your odyssey – you will be all the more fulfilled when you do.

    Best wishes.

  • 3. threadsintheneedle  |  May 25, 2010 at 8:59 PM

    but these are the sort of stories that are so good in the retelling once safe and dry at home no matter what you think at the time (like -what on earth am i doing in a place like this? why did i imagine this would be a good thing to do?)
    look fwd to more stories

    • 4. lesliedavid  |  May 25, 2010 at 9:34 PM

      You are so right young Judi and thank you for your comment.
      It is in retrospect that one can see the funny side to most of those trials and tribulations in life. And if we did not have a good laugh at ourselves, it would be a pretty drab affair.

      All the best and bye for now.


  • 5. beachblogger  |  May 29, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    Hilarious … loving these stories … the boot incident puts a new twist on the old ‘drinking champagne out of a lady’s slipper’ theme ….

    • 6. lesliedavid  |  May 30, 2010 at 12:26 PM

      Many thanks for your kind comments – it is a lot of fun.
      How was Newport this morning?
      Thank you too, for your advice on Categorising and being more adventurous with the design of my header. I hope to attend to these matters over the next day or two and hopefully, you can bear witness to the results.

      All the best.



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