Rough Weather

March 2, 2004

Ten days from Ft. Lauderdale is sufficient time to sail to Barbados in the southern Caribbean, with stops at Nassau, St. Thomas, Tortola, and Dominica along the way. On the return, two relaxing days at sea were scheduled before our last stop at Half Moon Cay.

Unfortunately, the sea chose that time to act up. Our cabin was on Deck 1, the lowest passenger level. We were about twenty percent of the way back from the bow, and every minute or so the ship hit a wave at just the right angle with a huge thump, creating a cloud of spray that totally obscured the view from our picture window.

(The even lower staff level has portholes.) Lower decks do have the advantage of not moving as far during each roll as upper ones.

(Stabilizers—underwater computer-controlled wings—do help to counteract pitching and rolling, but there is a limit to the amount of correction they can apply. Unfortunately they hadn't yet been developed during my first ocean voyage as a high-school foreign exchange student to Luxembourg. And on our first cruise, to Bermuda, a control system glitch resulted in the ship accurately maintaining an attitude several degrees from vertical. As you can imagine, walking was awkward, and the dining room windows on one side revealed only the sea, on the other only the sky. Fortunately, the three days we were docked in Hamilton were adequate to repair the problem.)

The next day, during the captain's noontime PA address, he assured us that such activity was not unusual in this area—basically, get used to it, you wimps! It really wasn't that bad, although there was the usual comical staggering down the passageways. Of course, macho sailors declaimed to all within earshot that this was nothing, and I do remember several days on the Arosa Kulm that were much worse. However, it was unusual enough that the pools were drained—that is, after they had already partially emptied themselves on the neighboring deck areas, and the late-night "Dessert Extravaganza" was canceled pending better weather. And unusual enough that sickness bags were prominently positioned next to the elevators.

And we did notice that many of the staff were wearing patches and accupressure wrist bands.

© Copyright 2004 Jack Ludwick - All Rights Reserved