Day 58

There was no news or visible action at the bow by 12:45 am when we called it a night. Pat woke up about 6:00 am to some motion. She checked out the balcony and saw ocean. Hooray, back on course. We then speculated what would be sacrificed on the itinerary because of the time delay in Bali. About 8:00 am the Captain made the announcement that we would by-pass the next port, Semarang, Java and continue toward Malaysia. This means three consecutive sea days. During breakfast, the ship passed Bali’s smoking volcano, Mt. Agung, which is expected to erupt in some unknown future.

We found out later this morning that the divers inspected the hull from about 2-4 am with the ship’s insurer, Lloyds of London, also present to approve our go ahead. We departed Bali about 4:30 am. We were supposed to be in Semarang today, so we were not surprised it would be missed in favor of proceeding to our next port. We all received a letter from the captain expressing his regret on our missing of Java and offering a future cruise credit of 10% of the value of this segment to be applied to another cruise.

Regular sea day activities followed with lectures games and more games. Terry’s 10:00 lecture, “East of Java – The Dutch Make an Impression.” Despite the title, Terry concentrated on the British first. Because the Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish essentially controlled trade in their territories circling the Pacific, the British felt need to find a different route for trade with the East. They decided to find the Northeast Passage, over Norway into the Arctic. In 1553, three ships set-off lead by Captains Chancellor and Willoughby, who soon disagreed on their courses and split-up. Chancellor made it as far as Nova Zembolya. The Russians brought him 600 miles by sleigh to Moscow, where he noted that it was bigger than London. Ivan the Terrible was impressed by him and was favorable to trade relations. On his return to London, there was a new ruler and his supporter had been executed. As a reward, he was sent back to formalize trade agreements on the hope that it would open passage to the east, but they had no concept of geography and the size of Russia between them and the east. On his return, he found the remnants of Willoughby’s ships in the White Sea.

In 1580, another attempt at finding the Northeast Passage was undertaken by two businessmen, who believed descriptions of wealth in the east found in a travel book that was more fantasy than fact. Another dispute and these two separated with one disappearing and the other returned to London after unsuccessful attempts of penetrating the Arctic ice fields.

In 1615, the Dutch got territory from Spain, the Moluccas, in the East Indies and established their capital there, Batavia, in 1619. A Dutchman, Abel Tasman, working for the Dutch East India Company, agreed to a ten-year contract to sail the southern seas and expand Dutch territory to search for the unknown southern land known only as “beach.” He wandered into the Indian Ocean to Mauritius then south where the ice would persuade him to return north and east. He ran into an island, which he mapped, but could not find a safe landing spot. A ship’s carpenter swam ashore to plant the flag, claiming it for the Netherlands, on December 3, 1642. Many years later, it would be called Tasmania. He sailed east and found New Zealand but the Maori natives drove them away toward Tonga and Fiji. He did sail south again and mapped the NW corner of Australia, but only saw sand and became disinterested. He did not realize that he had sailed around the continent. For the next 100 years, no other country cared about these isolated lands, until Captain Cook planted a British flag in Botony Bay. Tasman continued his sailing exploits for the East India Company in Siam and Sumatra, dying a wealthy man on October 10, 1659.

The next lecture by Hassan Eltaher was on “Canadians in the Nile,” with primary attention to a railroad engineer, Colonel Sir Eduard Percy Cromwell Girouard. The British needed to secure access to the Suez Canal and the Nile, but the French were in Egypt, so the British invaded Sudan, on the Red Sea. They needed a railroad built from northern Egypt to the Sudan border to supply their troops. Girouard, at 29 years old, was recruited in 1887 to build this for 385 miles, finishing in 1889. He was well-liked and was appointed to governmental positions in Cape Town, Northern Nigeria and finally to President of the Egyptian Railroad. After retirement, he disappeared from history.

The noontime game was Facts and Figures, where answers are always numbers. Our team tied for first for more Regent points. I went off with a couple of senior friends, Bob and Art, to play some ping-pong and burn a few calories. After lunch, we agreed to meet with Gwen and Lisa to play Uno in the lounge. We stopped around 4PM because Mensa and trivia time would soon follow and our seats were needed. We did well in Mensa, a 5 question daily brain teaser quiz, scoring Regent points but fell short in trivia again. There was a special 5:30 entertainment of classical and operatic singing by one of our world cruisers, Claudia. What a great voice she has. Her musical performance experiences have brought her throughout Europe, including several DVD recording releases. We chose to go to a late dinner and eat light while also skipping the Showtime entertainment at 9:30 pm because we had seen it twice before in earlier segments. Pat went off to try her luck at 21 and slots, while I worked on today’s news.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac