Day 79

This is our second sea day on the way toward Mauritius. For breakfast, Pat ordered whipped cream yesterday to go with her waffles and fruit. This breakfast dish reminds her of Vic’s Waffle House in Tewksbury, MA.

Terry’s morning lecture focused on Robert Fitzroy, Captain of the HMS Beagle, on which Charles Darwin sailed. Fitzroy had a good family background, a direct descendant of Charles II, intelligent student at naval college at 12 years old and finished in one-half the time. Years later, on a sailing trip to survey the Straits of Magellan, he assumed captaincy when the Captain committed suicide in a fit of depression on Patagonia. He continued and discovered new channels and inland waterways to the Pacific without rounding the stormy oceans at Cape Horn. He returned to England with three Fuegia natives from Patagonia. He wanted to teach them religion and educate them with the intent of returning them to their homeland and establishing a Christian mission. When the opportunity arrived, Fitzroy wanted a non-military companion for discussion in hopes of keeping his sanity and avoiding depression, unlike his previous captain. In previous stories I covered how Darwin was offered and selected. Darwin was interested in the three natives and observed the islands and places they stopped at along the way to Patagonia. The three natives were returned with a Reverend Matthews and left behind with provisions to establish a mission. The Beagle continued up to Lima and experienced an earthquake, where Darwin noticed 10 foot vertical land movement, giving him new ideas about land formation and the age of the earth.

On to Galapagos, where Darwin observed new species of animals and birds opening his mind to new ideas of evolution. Fitzroy was a devote creationist and arguments with Darwin’s newly developing ideas were loud onboard the ship. Fitzroy did not want to be associated with Darwin’s theories and made him promise not to publish his theories until after his (Fitzroy) death. Darwin did not abide by the promise entirely, but his Origin was published 23 years later. Fitzroy married upon his return in 1836, and served in Parliament, and a member of the Church Missionary Society that convinced him to return to New Zealand as Governor. Disputes over land grabs from the Maori led to fighting and some deaths. He was relieved and returned to England joining the Royal Society in 1851 and became Chief of Weather Service where he made historical contributions to that new science. The HMS Beagle made another return to Australia to survey and map the coast but ultimately ended as clapboard for a boathouse in England in 1864. Fitzroy committed suicide in 1865. As a final irony, Darwin, the atheist, was buried in Westminster Abbey, while Fitzroy, a devote creationist, is buried outside the church yard, because of his suicide death.

Michael Scott’s destination lecture was on the island Reunion, our next port after Mauritius. He talked on his favorite subject, birds, that we might site on our approach and while touring. He mentioned briefly all the same history of the island. He showed maps of the island highlighting the routes of the excursions and showing pictures of the landscape and sites on the island. The island has two active volcanoes and a National Park encompassing about one-half of the island. We are near the end of the rainy season. The island has one world record; the most rainfall in one day on 1-8-1966 of 6.5 feet of rain.

Michael Scott, being a naturalist now, reported that the ship had a stowaway that boarded yesterday and was still here, based on his wife’s recent observation. After the lecture, I ventured to the bow on deck 12 to view the stowaway, a Red Footed Booby, a rare specimen. I took many pictures, catching his pale blue beak and one with his red feet showing, though the focus was off. The Pool Deck Buffet featured seafood and I took a picture of the ice carving and centerpiece as well as a fruit carving.

The noontime games were fun and rewarding, while the 2pm slots tournament was not so good to me. Pat went off to make 3-dimensional elephant card and I sat in on a digital camera lesson given by one of the passengers, a professional photographer.

The afternoon lecture by Don Walsh was on “Pirates.” The concept has been around since the 17th century, when Royalty would issue Letters of Marque, which essentially gave ship captains the right to harass and loot ships of the enemy and share the booty with the Crown. He showed recent history of activity, mostly in SE Asian islands, Nigeria on the west coast of Africa, and Somalia on the east coast, ranging 1,300 miles out. In 2010, UN, NATO, and US created an anti-piracy fleet to patrol Somalian waters. Pirate activity decreased from 300 in 2012 to zero in 2016. The forces left and a few pirate incidents, 10, were reported in 2017. Russia, China and the US remain in the area occasionally. Local governmental maritime forces are trying to keep it under control. Organized crime has got involved and they supply the locals with weapons in exchange for a share of the profits.

The afternoon Mensa and Trivia were good for us. We (Pat mostly) scored in Mensa and our Trivia team came in second for points. There was a special Under the Sea Showtime performance and cocktail party in the theater for Regent’s Top Tier Guests at 6pm. This gave us another chance to drink, which we really don’t need, because drinks are continually being offered at every venue on the ship. You must manage your intake with “No thank you” or “Diet coke, please.”

Tonight, we are really not hungry so we ordered room service for sandwiches and watched a movie, the new version of Jumanji. We went to the 9:30 show starring Flight Risk. Alexa was debuting her ventriloquist act (still a work in progress) and Paul did his amazing juggling tricks.

We will be in Mauritius tomorrow and going out on a 7½ hour excursion and expect to see some good scenery.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac