The Voyage

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The Itinerary

After offering a similar itinerary on two previous occasions and failing to gain enough travellers to pay for the cost of the voyage, Heritage Expeditions finally succeeds in enlisting sufficient passengers for the South Indian Ocean expedition in 2002. The expedition will cover some 5688 nautical miles (n.m.) (6541 miles/10534 kilometers) from Mauritius to Abany,Western Autralia, in 30 days.

The map at left (a larger version can be seen by clicking on it) shows the principal legs of the expedition:
Nov 14: Depart Mauritius.
Nov 20: Arrive Iles Crozet. (1609 n.m.)
Nov 22: Depart Iles Crozet.
Nov 25: Arrive Heard Island. (930 n.m.)
Nov 27: Depart Heard Island.
Nov 28: Arrive Iles Kerguelen. (265 n.m.)
Dec 2: Depart Iles Kerguelen.
Dec 5: Arrive Ile Saint Paul. (862 n.m.)
Dec 6: Arrive Ile Amsterdam. (46 n.m.)
Dec 7: Depart Ile Amsterdam.
Dec 14: Arrive Albany, WA. (1976 n.m.)

The Ship

The Akademik Shokalskiy, built in 1983 in Finland as a polar research vessel and now owned and operated out of Vladivostok, Russia, has an overall length of 71.6 meters (235 feet) and is powered by two 1,156 horsepower diesel engines, allowing a cruising speed of 9 to 12 knots. Fitted out for expedition cruising, the ship can accommodate a maximum of 46 passengers. Our voyage is under the command of Captain Igor Kiselev assisted by officers Nikolay Velichko, Vladimir Puchenkov, and Andrey Arinshin.

Two views of my cabin aboard the Shokalskiy, my home for thirty days (click to enlarge).

The Expedition Staff

Expedition leader Rodney Russ trained with and worked for the New Zealand Wildlife Service for 12 years as a Wildlife Officer specializing in the management of rare and endangered speicies. In 1985 he established Heritage Expeditions, which organizes expeditions to the New Zealand and Australian subantarctic islands and Antarctica. He has been the expedition leader on numerous voyages into these regions, as well as the Pacific, Asia, and the Arctic.

Assistant expedition leader Aaron Russ has been travelling through the antarctic and subantarctic regions since an early age, and brings a wealth of actual experience to his position. A graduate of New Zealand's Canterbury University in zoology, his most recent studies focused on the sex ratios and parental investment in Buller's albatross. He also has a strong interest and knowledge in geology.

Assistant expedition leader Margaret Bradshaw was born in England but has been a resident of New Zealand since 1966. She was Curator of Geology at Canterbury Museum for 17 years, first visiting Antarctica in 1975-76 to collect specimens for the museum's new Antarctic Hall, and subsequently organizing five additional research expeditions. Margaret is currently a Senior Fellow and Tutor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Canterbury.

Lecturer Brian Bell worked for 30 years with the New Zealand Wildlife Service as head of the protected species unit, and is New Zealand's leading ornithologist. He has specialized in island biology, having also worked on the elimination of introduced species on subantarctic and other islands thoughout the world.

Lecturer Jeff Rubin is the author of the Lonely Planet Guide to Antarctica, and has visited Antarctica and the subantarctic on numerous occasions. A free-lance writer from Connecticut, USA, he has written frequently about the antarctic regions. His research into the history of polar exploration makes him uniquely qualified to present lectures on the history of the islands we are to visit.

Doctor Leo Merz was trained in Germany and the United Kingdom and has travelled extensively, serving as a physician in such diverse areas as Azerbaijan, Astrakam in Russia, and Saudi Arabia. His background in emergency medicine and his ability to adapt to changing situations makes him an ideal ship's doctor. This is his second voyage with Heritage Expeditions.

Finally, chefs Jocelyn Wilson and Nick Bruerton combine extensive hotel and commercial cooking experience and will make sure that dinner is something to look forward to each evening.

The Passengers

The forty-one passengers (not including the staff) represent nine different nationalities: nineteen are Australian, seven American, four British, three Swiss, two Dutch, two Japanese, two New Zealanders, one German, and one Slovenian. Almost a third (thirteen) of the passengers are women. Among the passengers are four with special connections to Heard Island:

Kate Kiefer is our representative from the Australian government who will supervise our visit to Heard Island, which is unique among subantarctic islands in that in has not been contaminated by any introduced species. One of her jobs, which she tackles with undaunted cheerfulness, is to vacuum every article of clothing we will wear on the island to remove any seeds that might have been trapped in the fibers. Having spent time on both Marion and Macquarie Islands, she is an expert on the botany of subantarctic islands.

Grahame Budd is Australia's foremost explorer of the south Indian Ocean, having already visited Heard Island on six occasions; he was station leader in 1954 when Australia decided to close down the scientific station that began operation in 1947. He was also a member of the first party to summit Mawson Peak, the island's highest point, in 1965. In 1971 he and another researcher were the first to set foot on McDonald Island.

Max Downes was the first scientist to make a thorough study of the birds of Heard Island when he arrived as part of the scientific mission in 1951. Having returned to the island on several later occasions, he has become the leading historian of the island, authoring research reports on the logbooks of nineteenth century elephant sealers and on the discovery and earliest visitors to the island. His wife, son, and daughter have accompanied him on this unique chance for them to experience the place that has been the focus of his attention for so many years.

Jon Stephenson is a geologist who was a member of the ANARE expedition to Heard Island in 1963, when he was part of the group that first attempted to scale Big Ben. In addition, he was a member of the 1955-58 Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which he joined just three days after finishing his PhD.

The last three share a unique characteristic: all have geographic features of Heard Island named after them!

About The Images

Nikon FG Kodachrome 64
Olympus IS-5 Ektachrome VS100

Nikon Coolpix 800

The images were taken with two film cameras (a 20-year-old Nikon FG SLR with a 50mm f1.8 lens and an Olympus IS-5 SLR, which includes an integrated 28mm-140mm 5X f4.9 zoom lens) and a digital camera (a Nikon Coolpix 800). I used mostly Kodachrome 64 in the Nikon FG and Ektachrome VS 100 in the Olympus. The Ektachrome is one of Kodak's "professional" films, with VS standing for "vivid saturation", which I used in the hopes that it might bring out color under the expected cloudy conditions. The result was that some of the images taken in bright sunlight with this film are almost too vivid, but I rather like the effect. The difference is very apparent when they are compared with the digital images from the Nikon Coolpix 800. The slides were scanned using a Minolta Dimage Scan Dual III photo scanner and Hamrick's VueScan software (highly recommended). The original resolution of the Coolpix images was 1600x1200, while the scanned slide images were originally about 3800x2533. The larger versions of the images placed on this web site are 800x600 for the digital images and about 950x633 for the slides.

The digital video sequences were taken using a Canon ZR10 Mini DV camcorder and uploaded to the computer via a FireWire connection for compression to VCD (MPEG-1) format, which is about half the resolution of the original digital video. The conversion to MPEG-1 was performed using the TMPGEnc video compression software.

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