Sunday, April 29, 2007 far from home.

My fortunes continue to decline. The SS Bad Diplomat lies at the bottom of an icy bay, quite beyond hope of recovery, and I find myself stranded in this most inhospitable, barren snow-covered land.

The night of my arrival, I had anchored offshore in a deep inviting cove, noting some ice floes, but nothing threatening. I had decided to attempt landfall the next day and prepared gear for the journey, and luckily set it on deck. As I retired I saw nothing nearby save some penguins gathered at the shore, busy with their own fishing efforts, a most serene scene.

Late in the evening I was awoken by a sharp crash or bang, sounding as if I was under fire from another vessel, the ship rocked and shuddered, and a breach below waterline was evidenced by the sound of rushing water and, as I arose, a cold splash at my feet, climbing higher by moment.

As the vessel listed, I clamored up from the cabin through the hold, the rising water at my heels. At the deck I had the forsight to gather my pack and survey the horizon for an attacker- I saw naught but a dark horizon to sea, and a nearby floe to lee. As I jumped to the water the icy knives of its coldness burned and nearly numbed me to the core. Luckily it was but a short distance to a large floe, and I was able to hoist myself easily onto this and rest. The screams of excited penguins seemed to fill the air, disturbed by the noise and excitement of my swim, I suspect.

As I donned my warm leathers from my pack, drying myself as I could, I packed my woolen clothes, and I watched the Ship descend beneath the waves. Oddly, I saw what I thought to be licks of flame and steam rise up from the hold before she finally went under. I had no explanation for this, and it continues to trouble me.

Resigned to my new fate, after a short rest and nibble of salted fish, I set out to seek some sort of shelter. The penguins seemed to have disappeared in the darkness, but I kept my gun at the ready for larger beasts that might be roaming. I found the floe to be near enough to others to jump from one to another to reach a peninsula of solid ground, and made my way inland.

Having been unable to find this land on my charts the previous afternoon, I had decided to lay claim in the name of the Grand Republic, and had prepared a standard for this purpose. I decided this was as good as time as any, as I was not weary, my energy having returned. I found a suitable promontory and dubbed this land Pierceland, in honor of our Commander in Chief, President Franklin Pierce.

The night kept me from discerning the size of the island or land. Yet, seeing a number of ridges, I perceived it as larger than I originally thought it to be, so I held hope for finding some rocky shelter. At first I found none. Then, after some searching, over one rise I spotted a perfect shelter. Relieved at this good fortune, I proceeded warily to it.

I found this natural ice-cave as the snow began to fall around me. In the distance I detected a long trail against the stars, and hoped for a moment that it may be evidence of a distant fire, but it passed with the clouds. As the snowflakes increased, I made for the shelter, rifle at the ready, prepared for any manner of beast.

Luckily, this cave was deserted. I quickly unrolled my bedroll and set about making a fire, which came quite easily thanks to some paraffin-treated matches I had with. Drowsiness came quickly, and I left it tommorow to ponder my fate. Warming, off to sleep I went, to wait out this storm, my shotgun resting beside me at the ready.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Getting Colder

After days adrift and minor winds, the weather has turned bitterly cold, though calm.

Having erected a shelter and changed into warmer garb, I keep myself occupied fishing, ending my aching hunger with a fine catch.

Re-energized by this repast I try to take bearings, but am not sure of the results.

One day I spot what seems to be land on the the starboard horizon, and unpack my spyglass to inspect this snowy coast or island-

I see a black figure against a white shore- perhaps this a nun from a Chilean convent, I think? Rescue at last! As I peer closer, I steer for land.

I seem to be much further south than I had thought.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Momento

Going through the Stereoscope slides, I see one from some time ago..

Miss Christine McAllister, who celebrates her birthday today, has always been a dear and true friend. I reminisce, fond memories find me. Although times and lives have changed, she still proves a trusted friend and most pleasant house-mate. Her heart was wooed and won by the noted Sir Edward Pearse, a talented gentleman of excellent repute and comportment, and, at their Caledon estate they have made a jouyously happy home together. She, with Edward, spends her time and effort tirelessly for the betterment of Steelhead and Caledon, an inspiration to any civic-minded soul. Lately she has taken up catering...after 10 days adrift, I must not think of food though....I hope for the occasion of wishing her many happy days when I may return.

Ahh, Venice!

Three more days windless, adrift, finds me in deep contemplation, desperate for distraction. My water is turning brackish, the food dwindling. Now stocking the "Passed" water just in case. Hopefully wind will return soon, or my drift will lead me to a verdant isle.

Will I make the Steelhead Saturday ball at this pace? I do hope so, as I look forward to the dancing, and companionship after these days alone. My correspondence has been run through a dozen times, I'm eager for the news of a possible commission in Caledon and to continue correspondence on the decoration of a new house for Miss Kelly, a charming ward of the Bardhaven estate.

To combat boredom or the more dangerous effects of solitude, I unearth my stereoscope from my baggage and relive some fond memories. The stereoscope plates comfort me with revisits to far off locales, and adventurous, more social days.

A trip to Venice in the height of the season.. Ahhh, Venice. Her canals of silver and stately forests of stone placidly reflected below :) I remember as if it were yesterday...

The plates draw me back to that day in their magical way...

I recall the great plaza, surrounded by the doge's palace, the tower and other public buildings of great antiquity. The pigeons amass there in troops in St Marks, gathering in small threatening clouds, as it were. Luckily, my wardrobe sustained no damage from them, unlike my recent Parrott Isl. adventure.

A small fair off to the side, a carousel beckons, the sweet and savory aromas of the food vendor's wares waft on the breeze..

The lovely gardens entice me, the exotic pungency of the fragrant herbs fill the air, and the flora fills my eyes, the colors vivid and alive..

I spy a gondola, and am offered a tour by an operator who assures speed and discretion, if wished.. I choose the languid, complete tour, watching as the storefronts pass by...

Through the canals we wend, this way and that, music on the breeze and a new sight at each corner...

..To end at a spectacular fountain amidst a lush lawn. What a lovely tour, I am happily distracted ...Ahhh, Venice !

Saturday, April 7, 2007

An Aquatic Fantasy

A windless day and evening leave me stranded with my thoughts, which turn to the Steelhead ball I am missing.

I entertain the fancy of a Mermaid ball, as I peer down to the calm ocean depths, the serenity of cool waters surround me as my legs disappear, replaced by fishy fins. In my reverie, I cavort and am charmed by the fantastic creatures of the depths..

Only to return to my peaceful solitude, now drowsy, ready for the next day's journey, should the wind return.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Magnificent Waves at Moana Ina Beach

After two days journey more I arrived at Weather Island, in the Hawaiis, to a sweltering day. Going savage this once, I matched the immodesty of the natives by baring a bit more than I would in more civilized climes. Finding a placid harbor for the SS Bad Diplomat, I scaled the nearby hilltop to survey the surf.

And what a surf it was! A marvel of nature, the waves rise higher here than I had ever seen. In need of supplies, I took the ships boat ashore and loaded my stores.

Fighting the surf back through these waves was near impossible. My skiff heaved again and again, thrust back by the tall surf.

Soon I tired of battling these waves and was even denied a passage around them, being tossed about as flotsam, and thrust to the shore.

I abandoned my damaged ship's boat, and pondered how I would return. Luckily I happened upon some natives, who, though they chuckled at my plight, offered a solution-

The natives had boards fashioned of sturdy but light trees, brightly painted, which they suggested I float out on, assuring the raft would float me to safety. They led the way with my provisions and I followed soon after.

As a wave caught me, I emulated the natives and clamored up to avoid it, as the guides had done. To my exquisite delight, as the water churned around me, the board did bouy me to safety, carrying me forward, and to a new bliss as I seemed to glide through the air. Truly a wonderful experience, a memory to be savored!

Reaching my vessel safely, my stores recovered and stowed, I set course for the port of San Francisco.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Navigating Parrot Island

After two days at sea I neared the cay of Parrot Island, famous for it natural pools. There are sand bars outlying, and it called for careful navigation to bring the SS Bad Diplomat to a safe harbor.

Soon the extict volcanic island loomed ahead. The heat below warms the natural pools found at it's base and an extinct crater pool at it's top.

As I neared the Island, I heard the call of it's native parrots, and inspired by tales of sailors before me, became determined to have one as pet. Once the vessel was securely anchored, I went ashore, secured freshwater and breadfruit, and ventured further inland.

Soon I discovered a lovely parrot resting near a glimmering warm pool, fed by azure waterfalls. I enticed the bird with mealy hardtack, and calmed its nerves with a small rum ration.

I hoisted my new companion to my shoulder and thought I cut quite the piratical romantic figure. The bird did not seem to share my opinion, and unfortunately expressed its displeasure by ruining my fine brown suit with its rum and hardtack-fueled excrement.

Sometime later, having changed my garb, I had a bounteous meal of what I now call south-sea chicken, or Fricaseed Long Parakeet.

Despite the affect to my apparel, Parrot Island offered a truly pleasant diversion. Relative privacy and warm pools await those who seek Recreation here. Surveying the lovely Islands, I plotted my course for my next destination, the islands of Hawaii.