Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another Day at Sea

The seas didn’t calm back to the previous levels until this morning. We met a couple that had been on the ship five times before and they said it had never been as rough as yesterday. The Royal Clipper crossed the Atlantic just before we boarded and several of the passengers we spoke to said the crossing was much better. They had wind and waves but the wind was not as great and the waves were long period rollers, not the shorter, steeper waves from several directions that were apparently reflecting off the nearby islands causing a confused sea. One person we met was from New York and he recalled one flight where they flew over Long Island Sound and the sun was low on the horizon and reflected off the water just right so he could see the waves. The wind was out of the north and he saw the waves marching south across the Sound as expected. What he didn’t expect was to see a second wave train going north that had been reflected off Northport! The two wave trains were interfering with each other as they crossed, going in opposite directions, in the middle of the Sound. I asked if he had a camera but he didn’t at the time. The lighting was most unusual to be able to see all that but I imagine something like that must happen in the Mediterranean too, especially with high winds and all the islands. The resulting boat motion is very uneven.

The captain gave a talk in the main lounge to a very interested group of passengers. He described the forecast he had received before the storm but he had nowhere to go. We were out in the middle of the Mediterranean without a nearby port suitable for the safety of the ship in 70 mph winds. Being at sea to “ride it out” was the safest choice, however unpopular with the passengers. During the Q&A he was asked what was the steepest roll the ship could take. He answered 77 degrees which would dip the yardarms into the water! I can only imagine what chaos that would cause inside the ship. There are no hand holds in the larger areas of the ship. What to do, stand on the windows? Despite what the brochure said, the ship does not have stabilizers. The captain said they were too noisy and didn’t work very well anyway. The company is building another, larger ship but it’s currently on hold due to the economy. Although the Royal Clipper is currently the largest ship in regular use, it will soon be only the third largest when two others are commissioned.

The wind is still blowing pretty good with whitecaps aplenty but these are conditions the ship was built to handle with aplomb and although the ship is still rolling, it a much more controlled roll and easy to adjust to.