Day 84

This is the last sea day before South Africa. Usual activities will follow. We started the morning with Terry’s continuing storytelling on South Africa, the subject being the “Boer Wars.” After the British regained control of the area, the resident Dutch didn’t like the regimented routine, laws, and taxes imposed by the British. By 1837, the Dutch, called Boers, sought to escape British rule and head north, on a Great Trek. Thousands got as far away as they could and settled down to farm, beyond the jurisdiction of the British, but right in the heart of Zululand. One group of trekkers lead by Pieter Retief negotiated a treaty with King Dingane, son of Shaka, in November 1837. There was a two-day celebration, after which the Zulu savagely killed the entire group. The Boers wanted revenge. In December 1838, 500 Boers crossed the Blood River to fight 10,000 Zulu. The Boers set-up solid defensive positions, tightly circling their wagons and filling gaps with bramble and thorny bush. It was a one-sided outcome. The Zulu lost 1,880 and the Boers 1. They now had the land they wanted, calling it Orange Free State and Transvaal, but the British soon after annexed the territories. The relationship was uneasy. By 1871, diamonds were found and in 1886, gold. As expected, this resulted in a huge influx of foreigners, Uitlanders (outsiders), who complained about their lack of rights and respect. Britain planned to correct that with the Jameson Raid of December 29, 1885 to January 2, 1886. The Boers captured the troops and returned them to Cape Town. At this time, the Boers had 50,000 and the British 14,700. Years later, the Boers mounted an offensive, besieged three towns and during these battles the British lost 1,100 troops and the Boers 8. Next, the Commonwealth nations rallied to the call. A large British army marched toward the Boer capital, Pretoria, and along the way, the besieged cities were relieved. The Boer fought a guerilla war, with small isolated groups, called Komando, harassing the British march toward Pretoria. The British destroyed everything in their way, like farms and houses, and took families and black sympathizers to concentration camps. There would be 109 such camps holding 154,000 prisoners. Eventually, the British laid 4,000 miles of barbed wire fencing and built 8,000 stone blockhouses to guard and, from which, patrol the territory. The Commonwealth committed 450,000 troops to the war effort. The Boers surrendered May 31, 1902 with the Treaty of Vereeniging. The final tally was British 22,000, Boers 7,000 and black civilians 20,000.

Mike Scott highlighted attractions for our East London port-of-call in a few days. Mac went to photograph the Galley Lunch Buffet display. There was a delicious dessert table with artistic vegetable carvings, ice sculpture, colorful desserts, and a chocolate fountain. The buffet line stretched through the entire galley with various food stations placed in a continuous loop from the starboard entrance to the port side exit. It was a very impressive arrangement. Pat remained in the theater to listen to the destination lecture about East London. We will talk about that as we near it in a few days.

Noontime games were facts and figures, at least that is what I call it because the answer is always a date or a number. Our team came in first for more Regent points. Bob, Art, and I played 4 games of ping-pong and then broke for lunch. At 2pm, I did not win in the slots tournament. Pat and I joined the 2:30 deck games and Pat won a point.

The afternoon lecture by Don Walsh was on the “Battleship Bismarck.” This was special to him because he descended in a submersible to view, photograph, and survey the sunken ship, while also leaving a brass plaque on the ship in memory of the men lost at sea during the chase and final battle. He described the short history of the ship. It was launched in 1939 with sea trial in 1940. On May 19, 1941, the ship sailed out of the Baltic into the north Atlantic, north of Iceland, and south through the Denmark Strait off of Greenland. Two British cruisers in the area picked it up on their radar and followed. There was a brief mid-Atlantic engagement and the HMS Hood sank in 6 minutes with a loss of 1,600 crew. Only 3 survived. The other ship, HMS Prince of Wales, got lucky and had three hits on the Bismarck.  Overnight, the Bismarck disappeared from radar. It was lost for 24 hours. There was a frantic air and sea search for it, mostly in the wrong direction. The Bismarck was damaged, taking in some water, and losing some fuel. The captain chose to head for occupied France and safety, but was spotted by a Catalina Flying Boat piloted by Jack Moffet, an American. Torpedo planes were sent from carriers. They dropped 21 torpedoes and only one hit. Fortunately, it disabled and jammed the rudder. The ship could only go in circles and it soon became a lame duck target for 45 minutes at close range. To avoid the ship getting into enemy hands, the engineering crew set charges and scuttled the battleship. In 1989, Dr. Robert Ballard found the Bismarck wreckage 380 miles SW of Ireland in 15,500 feet of ocean.

We did our Mensa game earning Regent points and Trivia, where we came in fourth again, just out of scoring range.

Today we got to cash in our Regent points for various items. We redeemed 110 Regent points for some baseball caps, tee shirts, a sweatshirt, and a nice tote or beach bag. We still have more points left to spend at a later time.

Mike Stirling performed a pre-dinner show tonight focusing on popular music. He sang some Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel hits, including My Girl and Big, Bad Leroy Brown. He joined Lauren from the Regent singers to sing the duet from Aladdin, A Whole New World, and later I Can Go the Distance from Hercules. He did a great job, but I think I enjoy him singing classical and Broadway musical numbers better.

We joined our friends Jeannie, Debbie, Dave, and Bill tonight for dinner at Prime 7 restaurant. The food is always spectacular, but the portions are too big for me, so we tend not to go very often.

Terry Bishop, the Headliner performer tonight, called his program, John Denver and Friends (Kris Kristopherson, Johnny Cash, etc). He sang a good variety of country western songs along with some silly, made up verses that used a familiar tune, poking fun at our older, overweight bodies. Unfortunately, most of what he sang about was true.

Tomorrow we will be in Richard’s Bay, our first port in South Africa. We are very excited, since our tour will be a safari.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac