Days 164 – 165 (Nov 12th – Nov 13th) At sea and our failed landfall on Norfolk Island, Australia


The original post was published by mistake as it only had one persons view of theses days albeit interesting bird stuff!

Another day at sea with the usual round of eating, lectures, eating, trivia (currently 3rd), eating, show, early to bed before looking forward to arriving at the duty free Norfolk Island.

Norfolk Island is situated to the east of Australia and north of New Zealand, see here. It has an interesting history and was the destination of many a convict sent to Australia from the UK. One problem with Norfolk Island is that there is no natural harbour and landings are difficult in rough seas. A fair number of passengers had excursions planned on the island, ranging from golf to touring the island, visiting the duty-free shop or taking a boat tour out to Philip island just off-shore. None of these happened as the captain deemed it unsafe to embark on tenders so we were unable to land. It turns out this was his third visit to the island. The previous two had also ended in failure so quite why Seabourn keep this destination on their schedule is a mystery. The 3 Australian Border Force officers who checked our passports yesterday were also due to leave but couldn’t and so will have to fly back from New Zealand. One of them confirmed that only 1 in 10 ships visiting the island manage to successfully land passengers….

However the captain did agree to circumnavigate the island so we could experience it from all angles) but the most impressive thing were the birds, they were everywhere.

Firstly the majestic Masked booby. These are very closely related to our gannet and use the air displaced by the ship to soar alongside, ready to pounce on any flying fish disturbed by the vessel

Masked booby

From the early morning onwards we had White terns flying in synchronised pairs past the ship.

Sooty terns, White-tailed tropic birds and Black noddys were all in evidence plus Red-tailed tropic birds

Later on Wedge-tailed shearwaters became a lot more common and quite large numbers were seen.

The final species was the Black-winged petrel.

Philip island is clearly a good breeding spot for many of these species as when we sailed past there were a large number of birds flying in close proximity to the island.

The island is unique in having pine trees, the Norfolk pine, covering much of the volcanic landscape. One reason for choosing this island was so the British Navy could use the pines to repair or replace the masts on their ships.

One of our fellow guests told us he and his family spent 2 weeks on the island (travelling by air) and found it the most relaxing place they’d ever been as the speed limit is 30mph and there’s literally nothing to do except watch ships trying to put ashore….

The original landing site of convicts, now preserved for posterity
Philip Island

As we were sea bound for the day, the non denominational Remembrance Day service could happen at 11am, rather than 6pm as advertised due to shore excursions. It was well attended with poppies available (the cruise director had brought them from England) and a number of countries were represented. Unfortunately, this meant we had a lot of USA stuff included, including TAPS rather than The Last Post but they did read the Exhortation from British Legion. We will remember them.

Onwards to Auckland.