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"Birds and Sewall," said another dedicated birder, Mrs. William F. Davidson of St. Paul. Sewall is Dr. Olin S. Pettingill Jr., head of the laboratory of ornithology at Cornell University, who was chief naturalist on the cruise. Mr. Davidson is a real-estate holder, playwright and sharp observer of the foibles of humans and penguins.
Dr. Roy Sexton, the ship's medicine man, said he was camping under the stars of the Gobi Desert when he got a message from Lindblad asking him to join the cruise. "I've been down here before. We had eight broken legs the first day out on a ship in 1968. But the pioneering instinct lives on."
A shaft of concentrated sunshine, Betsy Douglas of Ketchum, Idaho, my friend and roommate, was entranced by the journey's prospects of education and delight. "And I'm receiving both of them," she said.
The busiest man of the company, Michael Wynne-Willson, the public-relations director for the New England Aquarium and a Boston bank, made daily broadcasts from the ship's radio room to Boston and Montreal via Station WOM in Fort Lauderdale. With his pretty wife Anne, Hakon Mielche and a few other superdoers, Michael instituted, wrote and made up the cruise's daily newspaper, the Antarctic Circle. Mielche illustrated it with drawings.
During our first week together we abandoned surnames. The ship's steward broke away from the traditional custom of assigning places at tables in the dining saloon and instead asked passengers to sit wherever they found vacancies, so that we habitually breakfasted, lunched and dined with different companions, thus widening acquaintanceships. By the second week hands reached out to touch another's arm or shoulder in tentative approval or affection.
The ship's library copy of Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle was in constant demand, people wishing to refresh their memories of his descriptions of the Falklands, "an undulating land, with a desolate and wretched aspect...everywhere covered by a peaty soil and wiry grass," and of Tierra del Fuego, "a mountainous land, partly submerged in the sea, so that deep inlets and bays occupy the place where valleys should exist. The mountain sides, except on the exposed western coast, are covered from the water's edge upwards by one great forest." So, later, we found it without much change, the forest being mostly beech trees.
We were reminded of other writers, too. Having watched a wandering albatross tailing us, Jim Ullman one day remembered Coleridge:
there came both mist and snow,
The ice was here,
the ice was there,
At length did
cross an Albatross,