Sunday, 30 October 2011

Latitude 27°16.5 South Longitude 044°17.7 West

A few days since the last blog, we are busy to get the ship cleaned and ready for arrival to Buenos Aires and a new season in the Antarctic. 241 passengers awaits us for the coming trip to the fantastic destiantions Falkland, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula.
The main stairwells have got a particular thorough revival, paint and re-carpeting. Here you see the guys who have trotting up and down for days. They are not "Marsians", they are the deck crew. You see Bosun Renato upper left, Mon upper right, Bong lower left and Angeles lower right.
We have experienced quite a bit of wind the last few days, and the temperature outside has dropped quite a bit compared to what we had around equator, but don't get us wrong it is till warm and nice with approx 30 degrees celcius.

Todays crew Interview is with our extraordinary clever electrician BOB. Bengt Olav Berntsen himself.

Name: Bengt Olav Berntsen
Position: Electrician
How long time have you been working for Hurtigruten?
7 years
How many times have you crossed equator with a Hurtigruten Ship?
4 times
What do you like best about equator crossings?
Happy times
Is your job different when the ship do crossings?
Which tasks do you have during the crossing?
General maintenance and cabin repairs

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Latitude 16°16.6 South 036°24.2 West

Our blogspot today is mainly to report new sightings of birds.
It is a Masked Booby. Confirmed by John and Frieda. It appeared actually the 23 of October at 10:10, we thought nobody had captured it by camera, but luckily the guys on the bridge had the camera ready.
This is a Brown Booby. Spotted yesterday 25th of October at 17:15, and it stayed with us for an hour or so.
The wagtail "John bird-bird" has not been seen for a couple of days now. Seems he has left us.
The sunsets on the big blue Ocean are quite nice. This was Monday night 24th of October.

Todays crew interview is with Cabin Stewardess Aurea.
Name: Aurea Gacutan
Position: Cabin Stewardess
How long time have you been working for Hurtigruten?
8 Years
How many times have you crossed equator with a Hurtigruten Ship?
7 times
What do you like best about equator crossings?
Having baptism to the new crew or first time to cross the equator.
Is your job different when the ship do crossings?

Not really, it is almost the same, mainly cleaning.
We do get additional tasks on the crossing that our housekeeper wants us to do.
Which tasks do you have during the crossing?
Thorough cleaning of the cabins, public areas and other ship facilities.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Latitude 12° 9.9 South Longitude 034° 26.3 West

Sunday afternoon 14:30 local time (GMT-1) Galley Mervyn and his  deep "bass" like voice thundered RRRRRRRADIOOOO EQUATORRRRRR over the ships PA system. He announced the arrival of King Neptun and his entourage for the much awaited and dreaded baptism of the "Equator novises". This is a long and proud seafarer tradition. At 15:00 the ceremony started. The Netun Baptism party rushed to cabin 625 to dress for the event. It is almost as fun to prepare for this event as the event itself. We have a number of personlaties that need to be present in the King Neptun entourage, according to tradition. First of all our ships photographer for the occasion was William from the restaurant staff. King Neptun was Frank chief engineer, his devoted queen Karin the expeditionleader. Doctor  was JR, nurse was Sherry Ann, Elmer was Barber, Arsenio, Peter  were Police force, and Richard and Raymond were banging on kettles to make as much noise as possible, and ohhh they did.
Captain Rune and Safety officer Andreas was leading the event, making sure we were on the right latitude and to see the ceremony being conducted according to tradition.
The next coming collages have been made my dear ladies and gentleman, to give an illustration of how extremely much fun it is, and at the same time how feared this ceremony is for the "novises". One thing is for sure. When you are baptised crossing the equator, never wear clothes you want to use again. You STINK for days. A funny reoccuring event is that some of our crew are notorious to forget their certificates. You have to show your certificate, which is the only valid criteria to not be baptised again. Neptun always checks this thorougly. Our navigation officer Clyde, forgot his for the second time, and this time he was baptised by his colleague Andreas, safety officer, Lets hope for Clydes's sake he remembers the certificate next time. Those he did not get baptised, surely were spectators to the event, and the onboard knitting party Musti and Else Kristine used the time efficiently.
 We have of course a crew interview, and today our beloved Hotelmanager Else will be answering the questions. We also felt she needed to be thoroughly introduced, so we made a "mugshot" of Else.
Name: Else Kristine Tjessem
Position: Hotelmanager
How long time have you been working for Hurtigruten?
Almost 14 years
How many times have you crossed equator with a Hurtigruten Ship?
4+ now
What do you like best about equator crossings?
Fun looking at crew getting baptised
Is your job different when the ship do crossings?
Yes, there is a lot to organise, but the bigest difference is that we have no passengers. Anyway we have to do the normal "reporting routines". The crossing days go by so fast.
Which tasks do you have during the crossing?
Plannning ahead
Relax a bit, be social, recharge my batteries

To John, Frieda and Glenda who are keenly watching our blog for more birds. We spotted a Northern Gannet on sunday at 10:10 am, approx 2 degrees South latitiude, but did not get a photo. We are still on keen lookout though folks.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Position 01°33.8 N Latitude 028°2.2 W Longitude

Sunny, rainy, overcast sums up the last few days. One thing is for sure it is very warm outside compare to what the good lady FRAM experiences most of the year when she roams the Polar regions. We have promised John Chardine, our distinguished ornithologist to make a record of the birds we do see on the crossing. We have a sparrow like bird which has been resident here since 17th of October out on various decks. He has now a name "John bird - bird". Some of us spend an hour a day to walk around deck 5-6-7-8 for exercise, and "John bird - bird" has been a trusted companion flapping about for the whole week.

We will like last time we crossed the Atlantic introduce some of the crew on the blog. Todays crew interview is with
Name: Milagros Aguirre
Position: Doctor
How long time have you been working for Hurtigruten?
1 month and 6 days.

How many times have you crossed equator with a Hurtigruten Ship?
It is my first time I will be crossing equator.
What do you like best about equator crossings?
Barbeque time in the evening.

Is your job different when the ship do crossings?
No, because I see patients during the crossing. I update medicine supplies, getting ready for the new season in Antarctica.
Which tasks do you have during the crossing?
Update inventory and medicine supplies, organize pending purchasees of medical supplies. Reorganize medical lockers and conduct different medical trainings like use of heart-starter.

Tomorrow at 15:00 local time, the Equator baptism - Judgement day is upon us. King Neptun will decide who has given sufficiant proof of previous crossings. If you do not meet the standard demand of showing your certificate, you are in the hands of the King of the Seven Seas. Only tomorrow will show, and we will let YOU know. So long

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Atlantic Crossing Southbound

To all our trusted followers, you have not seen a post for a few days now, we are back on track. Last trip ended in Las Palmas on the 16th, but not as expected. We discovered a failure with one of our lifeboat engines, and because safety is our highest priority, we flew all passengers from Agadir to Las Palmas to catch up with their original flights and vacation plans. The ship sailed with crew only Agadir-Las Palmas, and a new engine has been replaced. Unfortunately these circumstances affected the passengers we had planned to have onboard for the crossing. If any of you see this blog post, hope that you are able to join us another time folks. We were really looking forward to having you with us. We left Las Palmas the 17th of October at 18:00, and estimate to be in Buenos Aires the 2nd of November, at what time is still uncertain. For the next couple of weeks our blog posts might not be coming every day, but we will try as often as we can. A lot of work and preparations for the Antarctic season and generally for 2012 is planned for us onboard. We will give you a little impression on how it is to cross the big vast Atlantic Ocean with a bunch of sailors from various nations. For your information we have now sailed 309 nm since Las Palmas, and are currently doing 13,5 knots speed on our way south. Weather forecast looks good which is always pleasant.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Overnight or Overland to Agadir

Overnight to Agadir.   A modern city rebuilt after destruction by an earthquake in 1960.  The Kasbah with views over city and harbour survived.   A popular beach resort, the King has a palace in the city and visits reguarly.    In ruins, the Kasbah still gave a strong impression of it former strength.  The souk and the folkshow produced Morocco's promised colour.

The overland party returned after not only the excitement of Marrakesk but also the drive over the High Atlas Mountains to return to Fram.  Experimenting with the traditional mode of transport, some went camel trekking in the sand dunes.  Though it seems many preferred the camels carved in cedar wood in the souk to getting close to the real thing.
A jeep safari took in the Massa Valley National Park and returned to the harbour off-road along the coastline and the fisherman's simple homes.  

After another fabulous day in Africa, and as this voyage nears end, the evening was given over to a Phillipino Buffet followed by the ever entertaining Crew Show.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Africa - A new Continent for Fram

     A special day for Fram,  the port of Casablanca, the largest city in the Kingdom of Morocco, North Africa.  The very first time that the ship has been to this Continent.  Approaching in misty conditions the tower of the Hassan II mosque was one of the first sights, its minaret the tallest in the world at 210 m.  Designed by French architect Michel Pinseau and built on reclaimed land, almost half of the surface of the mosque lies over the Atlantic Ocean. 
     The calm of the mosque contrasted with crowded and hectic scene of other parts of Casablanca.   Local tea provided a welcome break.  By comparison those who headed to visit the political capital of Rabat loved its open spaces and groomed appearance. 
     A group set off from the ship to see Marrakesh, which entails an overnight stay, we look forward to hearing of their adventure when they rejoin Fram in Agadir tomorrow.


After a hot, steamy day the temperature dropped quickly after sundown. Then this evening, out of the freezer came a large block of ice for carving. Galley colleagues Rudolfo, Barry, Peter and Arsenio demonstrated their skills in producing cake and table decorations for an appreciative crowd.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Hannibal & Henry

     Today brought the chance to explore the Algarve Coast from Portimao.
     The Roman name for this harbour was Portus Hannibalis after the great Cartheginian military commander Hannibal.
     In the 16th Century not far away at Sagres, the third son of the King, known as Henry the Navigator gathered advisors at his Estate of Vila do Infante.  Here ships awaiting favourable winds were also catered for.
     Lagos, was capital of the Algarve region from the mid 16th to mid 18th centuries, and host to the first slave market in Europe. The market stands in the corner of the square, where the 500th anniversary of past governor Henry is celebrated with a statue.
     Cape St. Vincent Point is the far south western corner of mainland Europe, where views of the cliffs stretch to the horizon in both directions.
     With the beautiful beach Prai da Rocha just minutes walk away from Fram and sea temperature at around 22 degrees, a dip in the ocean was another popular option for the day.


The Capital

     One advantage of the approaching winter in the northern hemisphere is that you do not have to be an 'early bird' to enjoy the sunrise. The current clear weather is giving great spectacles of light at both ends of the day.
     The Vasco da Gama Bridge spans the Tagus River with a total length of 17.2 km. It was in full light by the time we passed under it on on our way into Lisbon.

      Old and new architecture not only rub shoulders in this capital capital city, they actually run into each other. The city sights, Cascais, Sintra and a fado show were all enjoyed.
     After dinner, a  fun test of things learnt on the voyage, led by quizmaster Frieda, was held in the Observation Lounge.   Somehow the two judges managed to keep a straight face through the laughter.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Onward to Porto in Portugal

     Stunning moonlight accompanied the overnight sail towards Portugal and the port of Leixoes, just 10 km drive away from the centre of Porto. 

     Vímara Peres, was sent by King Alfonso III of Asturias, Leon and Galicia,to regain from the Moors the area from the Minho River to the Douro River including the city of Portus Cale later named Porto and Gaia from where the name of Portugal emerged. A statue of this 9th Century hero stands next to the Cathedral.
     Walking in the centre of Porto is not just about seeing historic buildings and the famed tile decorations. Laundry hangs out to dry, elderly ladies sharpen their kitchen knives on the granite steps, goods are delivered. The streets and the rail station bustle with activity.
At the mouth of the River Douro the local fishermen were fixing the nets used from their small boats. A little further inland the port wine warehouses nestle together on the opposite river bank from the civic centre. Joining the two is Gustav Eiffel's distinctive iron bridge, carrying road and tram traffic on different levels.
     Port is a fortified wine produced exclusively in the demarcated Douro Valley Region. Helped by the microclimate around one hundred different varieties of grape are grown. Typically a sweet, red wine is produced, often served as a dessert wine, but there are also dry, semi-dry, and white varieties.
     In the early history of the port wine trade, many of the most powerful traders were English families. Over the years Portuguese, as well as Dutch, German and Scottish-owned shippers became prevalent in the port industry. Fram's guests visited the warehouses of rivals Calem and Sandeman. Tasting, of course, the only way to appreciate this particular heritage of Porto!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Clear skies in the City of Crystal

Galicia is an autonomous region in northwest Spain, erosion by the Atlantic Ocean has contributed to the many capes on the coastline.   Best known is Cape Finisterre said to be considered by the Romans (along with Finistère in Brittany and Land's End in Cornwall) to be the end of the known world. 
Our port, La Coruna, a political capital from the 16th to the 19th Century, is characterised by glazed window balconies called galerías. This solution for the challenging weather, particularly rainy days, dates back to the 18th Century. The finest examples face out to sea from Avenida de la Marina.   Shortly after Fram moored, stunning morning light bounced off the windows as hundreds of local runners streamed past in a weekend road race.
     Santiago di Compostela, only one hour away, drew many passengers to see the Cathedral. Dedicated to the apostle James, this final destination of medieval pilgramage routes is also surrounded by many other historic buildings.
     Heading back out to sea it was easy to see the Tower of Hercules, a lighthouse that has been in continuous operation for nearly 2,000 years.  It is easy to understand how its nightly beam can be seen for 24 miles.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

The Bay of Biscay

For crew there are regular safety drills, a day "At Sea" often finds them on one of these exercises. This was no exception. Though not involving passengers, many are keen to watch the activity.

Lectures, bridge visits, dolphin and whale sightings - quite a day. A calm Biscay meant afternoon waffles with Antonio on piano were popular.
Fram's voyages in Europe visit several sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Fiona explained how properties obtain a place on that List. Steffan put 4.6 billion years of geology into a nutshell, Freida described the ecology of oceans, Katya illustrated Spanish and Portugese Art. Arne introduced everyone to our next port A Coruna in the Galicia Region of Spain. Klaus spoke of Christopher Colombus, who passed through the Bay of Biscay in 1476 on his way to England, Ireland and onto Iceland. It is not recorded how the sea condition was then, but it will definately have taken more than a day to cross!

Friday, 7 October 2011


Past St. Nazaire, 56 km down the Loire River (the longest in France) to Nantes.  With a history spanning three thousand years the city developed at a place where a number of islands embraced by the river enabled it to be crossed and bridges to be built.  Notable amongst many historic buildings are the St. Pierre Cathedral and the Chateau of the Dukes of Brittany.

     A region for Muscadet, Sancerre and Vouvrey wine, the estate of Chateau de Goulaine is thought to be the oldest known wine business in existence. Their fine tapestries and butterfly house were enjoyed as well as their wine.
     Nantes is also the home of LU biscuits, their "petit beurre" still produced after more than a hundred years, though no longer in local ownership.

What started as a grey afternoon turned to sun in time for enthusiastic photographers to catch the autumn colours at Clisson. Coaches returned from excursions to a pipe band playing at the gangway and a superb sunset.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Company at Sea

There was good company along the French coast heading towards our next port of Nantes. Birds and vessels came and went from view through the day.

     Northern Gannets nest on the south coast of England, but they are back at sea now that the breeding season is over. The wind made this a good day for them.
     Commercial and small boats passed and distinct, but a little too far away to photograph well, sight of the tall masted sail ship The Bounty.
     The original is one of the most famous ships in the world. known for the mutiny which took place in Tahiti in 1798. This replica was constructed by MGM for the 1962 movie “Mutiny on the Bounty” starring Marlon Brando.  Now this Bounty sails around the world offering dockside tours about the history and details of sailing vessels from another time in maritime history.