Tag Archives: Gerard Bentall

Crossing the Atlantic at speed

 

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Flying fish from a flying (along) ship

12 February

 

We must have been seriously delayed as we have now left the Amazon delta having spent a night with little sleep as waves are crashing onto our ship which is now doing nearly 22 knots on our way to Cabo Verde.

A very grey day with the hardy sun bathers at a complete loss as to what to do other than sit out under the clouds.

A talk today on Devil’s Island, a former brutal penal island owned by French Guyana and on Cabo Verde with dinner in the Beach House, it saves dressing up again, and more singing of lesser known, but good, songs from the musicals sung by Gerard Bentall.

 

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Ploughing through the sea

13 February

 

Another sea day and an audience with Captain Box, Oriana holds the Golden Cockerel as the fastest ship in the fleet – we are still doing 22.8 knots (about 27mph) which is pretty amazing for a conventional vessel.

A talk this afternoon on Tenerife and the old capital but a leisurely afternoon watching the flying fish.

We establish that the reason we had to go back into the Amazon for refuelling (bunkering) is that there wasn’t enough fuel to give us down the Amazon at Manaus.

Tonight’s entertainment is from the captivating flautist, the very talented Andrea Amat: so good we bought her CD.

11:30 pm we are informed there is a deep fat frier fire in the forward galley on deck 6 with First aid response required. An unusual request to be broadcast to the whole of the ship at this time of night!

Not that I had had much to drink but try saying “deep fat frier fire” after a few alcoholic drinks!

14 February

 

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Valentine’s day

The final sea day before Cape Verde/Cabo Verde and it’s Valentine’s Day. A rose for Sal, but not from me or, John claims, not from him. Sal has a secret admirer on the ship but two days later he and Deirdre admit it was from them!

 

Still doing 22.5 knots, the ship has a top speed of 24 knots; are we trying to break the transatlantic speed record?

A final talk from Bernard Purrier on the type of dolphins or whales we could see around the migratory islands of Cape Verde and the flying fish which we have seen over the last few days whilst crossing the Atlantic.

As the clocks go forward an hour, we forgoe lunch, buy the first Costa Coffee on board and then listen to Martin P Lee’s talk on the similarities between Hitler and Putin. Scary.

The traditional chocoholics display for tea and I sit next to a guy from Wexford who also does a WordPress blog.

 

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Healiners Theatre Co. (Publicly available picture)

Tonight’s entertainment is the Headliners version of a tribute to Queen in the Pacific Lounge with it’s very poor seating but the ability to be up close and personal with the dancers and singers who, if you were in the front row, would be virtually on your lap.

 

A few older gentlemen were in danger of cardiac arrest with the very tight costumes the dance girls were wearing right in front of them. 40 minutes of energetic dance and singing routine and they make it look so easy.

James Michael Stewart provided the entertainment in the theatre and whilst his songs were good, his voice fantastic, the technical crew once again failed him as some of the videos / pictures were not shown and on at least two occasions he asked them to turn down the Mike or the backing sound, with them ignoring him on one occasion. Poor technical assistance.

Tomorrow, our last “new” country – the Cape Verde Islands (Cabo Verde). We are certainly on our way home now.

 

Santarem and leaving the Amazon

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We are today at Santarem, still 500 miles up the Amazon, where American Confederates fleeing the American Civil War originally settled. Even today, O’Malley and Higgins are common surnames.

A river tour is booked for the afternoon so we have the morning to ourselves as John & Deirdre go on a jungle walk this morning. Thought a walk into town would be good but looking at where we are docked, the distance to town is more like 2 miles rather than the 1 advertised so decide to watch the world go by in the Crow’s nest.

The berth today is in the commercial dock with a Soya conveyer belt in front of us with it’s attendant containers at moor out in the river. We have been told taxis would be limited where we dock – in fact there are several we find out later!

For our tour we exit the ship on the river side onto a pontoon and then onto our river boat like the small ferries that we have seen in the last two ports of call.

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Fishermen at work

 

Only about 20 or so of us and we are lucky enough to get a front seat as we headed off into the River Tapajos leaving behind the town and we pass more houses on stilts and a number of fishermen.

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Up market house on stilts

 

 

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Our tour guide

We slow down whilst a pod of pink Dolphins attack some fish, some of whom were seen jumping to avoid them.

 

Our guide is a 50 something teacher and his command of English is again very good, he was also from the tribes and came to town to improve himself.

He is proud of his teaching achievements, employing two of his former female pupils as guides on other ships.

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Birds hitching a ride

 

Sandbanks passed with logs floating downstream giving rides to many birds and more meeting of the waters passed, we head off down another river, noted for pyranah and catfish as well as bird life.

 

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Catfish catch

Before that we are told that three divers many years ago went down at the waters meet to see what the effect of the two waters were at a lower point never to be seen again. No one has ever dived there again!

 

 

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Iguana

Slowly down the river, we stop at the Bankside to spot birds, iguanas, plant life and fish.

 

One family have a prized possession of a recently caught catfish, an ugly looking fish which is brought on board for us to get up close and personal with.

An adjacent boat on the same tour also stops for viewing.

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Catfish on board

 

We then pull up on to the bank and are invited to take a fishing line with some meat on the end in the hope we might catch some fish whilst our guide tells us more about the area around us.

 

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Pyranah fishing in the rain

This is just on cue for the heavens to open and I like a few others get absolutely soaked.

 

One lady manages to get a piranha and I get a tug and loose my bait but only two other members of the crew manage to catch a pyranah.

Drying out quickly, we set off on our return by some cattle, we are told these are Indian small cattle, as bigger cattle would get bogged down in the wetlands due to their heavy hooves and weight.

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Pyranah fish

 

Hawks, Vultures and Egrets are spotted high up in the trees and we also manage to spot a Sloth slowly clambering down a tree, very well camouflaged, a bit like how a Koala camouflages itself.

 

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Sloth

Back to the ship closer into town rather than via the sandbanks we went past earlier, the water becoming choppy as the winds pick up ahead of a rain shower but allowing us some close up views of some fishermen, a dilapidated boat and some youngsters enjoying the “beach”.

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Dilapidated vessel

 

We land on the quay, our only patch of Santarem land we tread on, and with a short walk to the ship, we manage to get inside just before the rains came.

Entertainment tonight is an International duo of pianists, one French (Matthieu Esnult) and one English (Ben Socrates) who play some pieces for four hands – difficult – and a male singer, Gerard Bentall, who sung some “new” songs including Bui Doi which does make a change from the old standards we have heard many singers perform on this cruise – a refreshing change.

10 February

 

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Saying good bye to the Pilot

Cruising back down the Amazon, we discharge our pilots at Macapa which is the city on the Equator and we cross over to the Northern Hemisphere just before more rain arrives to spoil it for those cruisers who are only here for the sun, and there are a fair number of those.

 

The talk this morning is on facts about the Amazon delta given by from Bernard Purrier which not only covered wildlife but some interesting facts.

  • The Amazon, 45m years ago, flowed into the Pacific, then the Andes were formed and the flow reversed.
  • It produces 52,000,000 gallons of fresh water into the Atlantic every second
  • It accounts for 20% of the wold’s fresh water
  • The amount of water that goes into the Atlantic in a year would supply New York City with drinking water for 12 years.
  • It can be up to 50 miles wide and as little as 1 mile wide, depending on seasons
  • Water levels are up 20% this year and locals fear a flood which is why some farmers are moving their cattle to higher ground.
  • 100 miles out to sea, river (fresh) water is still evident from the Amazon
  • Pink Dolphins are called Boto and live only in fresh water.

 

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Macapa

Although we have crossed the Equator, we baulked at watching Neptune’s ceremony in humid but overcast conditions which we understand turned to very heavy rain, instead preferring to join a packed cinema to watch “Girl on a Train” which after about 90 minutes of the 112 made no sense but which in the last 20 or so minutes did manage to make up for the previous minutes.

 

Certainly the worst day weather wise we have had so far on the cruise.

The entertainer tonight, Jamie Michael Stewart has a strong voice and a lot of experience but there was something about him that didn’t quite gell. It didn’t help that he was supposed to show some slides but the technical team failed miserably to provide them.

Question is: who sung the song “Love grows where my Rosemary goes”?

11 February

 

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Belem, Brazil

Last night, we went out to sea and back in to another part of the Amazon Delta for refuelling – the Para River. Presumably we couldn’t go direct to the refuelling point through the shallows of the Amazon delta?

 

Surely we have gone south of the Equator again? A bit rough out to sea, Force 6, but of course calmer in the river.

We are moored in the middle of the river outside the city of Belem and tied up to a floating fuel barge taking on, what the captain describes as “tonnes of fuel”.

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Refuelling

 

We drop anchor at about midday and leave just after 8:15pm having experienced, sun, cloud, rain and wind during our stay although for the 2nd time, the build a boat competition suffered rain at 2pm.

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Build a boat competition 

 

There is no ability to leave the ship and the washing machines in launderettes are now turned off to conserve water.

Another talk today by Bernard Purrier, on Macapa and the surrounding area.

Evening entertainment by a female comedienne and magician, Mandy Muden, not the most entertaining but not bad, and a Spanish flautist, Andrea Amat with her captivating story and performance playing a few other flute type instruments. Certainly she is one of the highlights of the entertainment on this cruise.

We are now late so are having to chase across the Atlantic to our next port of call on the Cape Verde Islands on 15 February.