Day 44

Hooray, a sea day. Time to relax. Not! Because our time is 9 hours different than the East Coast, we tried to facetime before our breakfast and before bedtimes at home, but did not connect with anyone. We will try again tomorrow.

We are sailing across the Great Australian Bight today and tomorrow. A bight is a large open bay. Looking at a map, it stretches from central to western parts of southern Australia for 720 miles. I thought it was named for the shape of the land, like when someone takes a bite out of a cookie leaving a circular indentation. Well, you look at a map and see what I mean.

This morning’s first enrichment lecture was Terry Bishop’s “Bound for Botany Bay,” his personal view of the history and humor of penal transportation to Australia and beyond. The 11 ships set sail on May 13, 1787, passing through Madeira, Rio, and Cape Town acquiring provisions and needed ship repairs over a few weeks. The flotilla arrived at a place called Botany Bay on January 18, 1788. Initial shore excursions reported unsatisfactory conditions, so Capt. Philip sent several row boats to scout out a more suitable settlement. Reports came back that up the coast a short way was a better cove and land for their settlement. Captain Philip moved into this location and planted the British flag, giving it the name of Port Jackson (eventually renamed Sydney a few years later). History could have been different because a French ship landed in Botany Bay 2 days later. A British officer, Lt. Gridley, was sent over to investigate this report and surprisingly negotiated or convinced the French captain that he was trespassing upon British claimed land and the French left. Would Australia have become French if that ship stayed?

Captain Philip needed supplies to repair the ships and sent Lt. Gridley, 15 convicts and 7 free men to a really remote location for ship repair supplies of hemp and flax. This was Norfolk Island, discovered by Cook 10 years earlier, but 1,100 miles NE of Sydney. However, the colony survived, the soil was good and more people were sent. Reality of their isolation settled in as the chartered ships had to return home to England during the summer and fall based on the contract terms, leaving only 2 navy ships, HMS Sirius and HMS Supply.

Great Britain still thought their idea was sound and sent two more prisoner flotillas in 1790 and 1791.  The transportation conveyor belt was in full operation now. The various succeeding governors sought new lands and took over Tasmania in 1803 to move prisoners there. Norfolk Island was abandoned by 1813 as being too far away, but re-opened in 1825 for the worst convicts. The peak year for incoming convicts was 1842 and prisoner transportation from England continued through 1853, ending with 160,000 total convicts transported to the colony.

The following lecture by Professor Losey was on “Marine Biology of the Indian Ocean.” He spoke on the formation of the ocean and continental drift, the age of the ocean floor and how hot spots created islands and ridges as the plates moved. The monsoon seasons had an impact on wind direction and sailing commerce. Water temperatures affected the strength of typhoons. Modern fishing techniques have an impact on species population decline, with little or no regulations or management in that area and with so many competing countries.

Pat missed the second lecture for a haircut appointment and we met in the Stars Lounge for the noontime Family & Fun game time. We played a card game, Screw Your Neighbor, and it went really quick. I was out first and Pat tied for first, so more Regent points. Lunch on the pool deck featured an Australian BBQ. I tried kangaroo, emu and wild boar sausages, a small meat pie and a meat eggroll of some type. I sampled a little of everything but decided on a cheeseburger.

Next, it was time for deck games of rolling the dice. Oversized foam rubber dice you roll toward squares taped on the indoor rug to get the highest total score. Pat and I came in first for Regent points. In the same area later, there was a croquet type game where you had to hit the ball toward scoring areas on the rug. Pat and I came in second. This was a big Regent point day for us. After a short interlude, we gathered for the daily Trivia game. We did well but out of scoring.

Terry Bishop had a special 5:00 show “More Folk Songs, Stories and Sing-a-longs.” His folk songs and guitar playing was interspersed with a great deal of humor. The theater was packed. Passengers really like everything he does and many have seen him on other Regent cruises.

Seventeen cabins participated in the “Decorate Your Door” contest. All who wanted to judge were given a list of the cabin numbers and a ballot where they would vote for doors 1, 2, and 3. We took a ballot, but did not vote for ourselves and found 3 doors we liked better than ours. We were not in the top 3, but got 5 Regent points for participating.

While Mac was at George’s marine biology lecture, I went to the Galileo Lounge to learn about making eclairs from the pastry chef, Pascal Eber. He demonstrated the cooking technique at his table, answered questions, made the dough and squeezed it out of a pastry bag in the éclair shape. One batch would make about 20 eclairs. He put the eclairs in his magic oven and “Presto” they were cooked (no oven was in the lounge). He then made the filling. The audience was seated at tables that had tea and already baked eclairs. They had the difficult task of squeezing the filling into the éclair, closing it up, spreading chocolate on top, and then eating it. I arrived a bit late to get a table and just watched the demonstration. It was still fun.

We went to dinner close to 8PM tonight and just got a table for 2 at Compass Rose. I ordered eggplant and zucchini parmesan, which was quite good. I actually ate it all. Mac got the catch of the day, pomfret fish from Port Lincoln. He enjoyed it immensely.

Tonight’s show was “Broadway in Concert” by the Regent Singers. They are a talented bunch and did numbers from Wicked, Cabaret, Carousel, Guys and Dolls, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and some of the newer Broadway shows I did not recognize. They finished with a great selection of the most well-known songs from Les Miserables. I love that soundtrack!

We turn our clocks back another hour tonight and will 14 hours ahead of East Coast time.

Tomorrow is another sea day and then we arrive in Esperance, Australia.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac