This visit was made by siblings, Chuck and Martha, (together with 85 other passengers, 12 staff and 68 crew!) on board the M.S. Endeavour during a cruise of the Açores. Owned by Lindblad Expeditions, the Endeavour is a 110 passenger expeditionary ship equipped with zodiacs and kayaks, and travels with a natural history staff who assist with lectures, tours and answers to a million and one questions.
On the night of 8 May over a few drinks in the lounge, we wondered how close we would be to a confluence. The map identified two possibilities, so we approached our Expedition Leader, Jim Kelley, to see if we would be asking too much to direct the ship to one of them. Fortunately we did not have to commandeer the ship--the Captain took to the idea and it was arranged for 10 May. As we had on board e-mail but not Internet access, we e-mailed overnight to our friend at home in Chicago, Arthur Mitchell, who checked and reported back the next day that 39N 28W was open. The plan was set!
The Açores, possessing the western-most point in Europe, are a group of nine volcanic islands situated roughly 900 miles off the coast of Portugal, of which they are an autonomous region. During the afternoon of 10 May we explored the island of Graciosa, called the "white island" because in the summer, as seen from the island of São Jorge, this dry island shimmers in the sunlight and looks quite white. The most interesting feature of Ilha Graciosa is the Furna do Enxofre, a volcanic cave under the main caldeira with a sulphuric lake 270' under ground. Until October of 2003 Ilha Graciosa had never been visited by a cruise ship until the Endeavour made her first call there.
After leaving Ilha Graciosa for the short trip to Horta on the island of Faial, our first officer steered a steady and SLOW course with the auto pilot toward our confluence at 39N 28W. Jim got on the public address system to explain to all the other passengers why we were creeping along by announcing that "Martha Olson is playing some Internet game." Oh well!
We hit the confluence at 18:10:55, took our photos, raised our glasses, and then went full steam ahead to our next port of call.
Chuck and I would like to extend a very sincere "thank you" to our captain, Karl Lampe, and his officers for making this visit happen. We obviously couldn't have done it without them!
For a log of the voyage written by our natural history staff, go to www.expeditions.com/logsonline and select the Endeavour, with embarkation date 7 May. They have written eloquently about the flora, fauna, and geology of this "off the beaten path" destination. The friendliness and simplicity of the people and the slow pace of daily life make a visit to the Açores feel like a trip back in time to a Europe as it might have been centuries ago.
Photo #1 Ilha Graciosa (NW)
Photo #2 GPS
Photo #3 Radar shows ship's position relative to the Island, including the GPS coordinates
Photo #4 N back at Graciosa
Photo #5 SE
Photo #6 SW toward the Island of São Jorge
Photo #7 Nautical Chart of Island Graciosa
Photo #8 Martha, Chuck, & First Officer