Unlike the flocks
moving south last winter to escape the sleet and slush, our small covey of 90
pushed right on past the warm weather. We were heading down to seal and penguin
country, to days of 20-hour sunshine just strong enough to start icicles
dripping from the tops of mile-long icebergs and to topple towers of packed
snow into the sea. This was the maiden voyage to the iced continent of the
scarlet and white motor ship Lindblad Explorer (2,300 tons, 3,800 hp, 250 feet
long) built expressly for such exotic cruising, and for 21 days we roamed 3,810
nautical miles of the far southern ocean, through the "Roaring 40s,"
the "Furious 50s" and the "Screaming 60s" south latitude.
possible airline pilots' convention, no small ship could possibly have
accommodated a group so widely and imaginatively traveled as did the Explorer.
Hakon Mielche from Copenhagen, for example, who amused us one afternoon by
wearing full evening dress, including white gloves, to visit a colony of gentoo
penguins. Hakon stopped counting his air miles five years ago after they
reached two million. He has hunted on Navarino Island at the bottom of Tierra
del Fuego, sailed the Columbus route from Spain to the New World and written a
book about it, After You, Columbus. He has also written 34 other travel books
and sent dispatches to Scandinavian newspapers from virtually every country on
the Earth's surface, including Iceland, Greenland, most of the Pacific islands
and 24 towns in Australia.
aboard had bounced around Africa and India, Alaska and Australia. They had
fished for trout in Iceland and Peru and New Zealand, bird-watched in the
Himalayas and in Manitoba's Delta Marsh. Some knew Nandi, the airport of the
Fiji Islands, as well as Pagopago—American Samoa—and one place or another in
the Solomons. Many of the company had explored the tropical Galapagos Islands,
sailing either their own or chartered boats (as did Frank Masland Jr. of
Carlisle, Pa.) or on a cruise organized by the ubiquitous Mr. Lindblad. The
median of their financial resources would be about a million dollars and the
average age was 59.
been to Easter Island?" someone asked me in surprise. "Do go, before it
gets spoiled by tourists."
They spoke an
exclusive shorthand language. "John Williams" could refer only to the
ornithologist of Kenya, long associated with Nairobi's Coryndon Museum.
"Roger" inevitably meant Roger Tory Peterson, the eminent U.S. bird
On the second
night out from Buenos Aires the Explorer's captain, Ludvig Gjesdal, an immense
blond Viking, economic in speech, asked how I happened to choose the
lonesome for boats and the sea. And I longed for fresh air. Why did you choose
"It could be
been down here before?"
"I was deck
boy on a whaler when I was 16." (A Norwegian whaler in the Antarctic, he