Five Days At Sea

4/30/19 – Tuesday until 5/4/19 – Saturday

Now 5 days at sea may seem like a boring proposition. Believe it or not, we were crazy busy and struck that we didn’t have time for all that we wanted to do. I do believe that you would feel pretty bored reading about our days on ship, day by day, though. So I’ll try to compile what we did.

Besides various exercise classes I took another Polyfit dance class and several hula dance lessons until May 3rd when our group of 44 along with 25 ukulele players (cruise passengers also) performed for other passengers on the ship. I wore my Hawaiian shirt, shorts, my Kukui bracelet along with Shirley’s (dinner tablemate) Kukui necklace with flowers in my hair. I really wished I’d had a real Hawaiian dress (thin and light) and my own Kukui necklace so when we landed in Honolulu I bought both.

We went to every Judson Croft class on the Pacific Ocean we could make. You can skip this section if nothing appeals to you.

Argos Drones/Robots: They look like torpedoes, using an external bladder and light oil to enable the drone to go up or down in the ocean. Argos Gliders also have wings and a rudder to guide them into angles. They also have a battery set on ‘tracks’ to give weight forward or backward thus getting the nose to tilt up or down. Then the drone can travel in a wavelike pattern. Both have GPS and robotics built in. The oceans are filled with them.

Internet at Sea: MARSEC (MARitime SECurity) communicates with the US Coast Guard using satellites stationed above the equator. Their orbit is always at the same spot above the Earth. They are set at 23,000 miles above Earth which is similar to the diameter around Earth (Equator). They’re used by ships at sea. If you look at images/videos of below the ocean in Google Earth you’ll see sometimes what looks like tracks in the sand. These are where a survey ship has passed over a path using a high resolution camera to take images of the sea floor in preparation for laying a cable. The detail shows all those indentations that aren’t visible in other areas recorded with less resolution. When a passenger sends a message from our ship it’s split into “packets” which then travel through several (5?) systems before they reach the device of the person they’re sending the message to. Then they endure that very complicated process to travel back to you, the sender. That’s why the internet on a ship is far slower than what you have at home, it’s not the ships’ fault.

Containers: Unfortunately I seem to have lost my notes so this is what I remember: A US gentleman figured out that if you put boxes, all of the same dimensions that would then fit to completely fill a large space (eventually trucks, then container ships), you could pack things more efficiently. Soon trucks beds were given standard dimensions to work with these boxes. Businesses caught on with how they packaged their items. In time this concept grew throughout the US, then the world. Container ships were built, enlarging this idea beyond trucks. Each container has locking mechanisms at each corner so they stay “attached” to the container above and below as well as become attached to the floor of the ship. All this pretty much ended the very back breaking work of dock workers since they invented cranes to lift the containers onto waiting trucks or trains at the dock.

Tsunamis and Rogue Waves: Most waves are cause by wind. A sea shows little waves in all directions. Swells are larger waves from remote locations. The longer a wind blows in the same direction the water becomes organized into swells. Waves are not water flowing forward. They are moving more like a row of dominoes sent dropping or a sports crowd doing the “wave”. Only energy moves along, not water.

Plastic Pollution: What was most devastating was what we learned about drift nets. These are set out by fisherman with buoyant balls holding them up at the top of the water. That’s okay if the fishermen gather up their nets with fish when its time but when they can’t find their nets or just drop them into the sea because the nets are old or torn. Then as more fish get caught and die the net drifts lower until it reaches the predators like sharks who have a feast on the dead fish but then get caught themselves and die. When the fish eventually no longer weigh down the net it floats back up to start the process all over again. This is besides the times when these nets get caught in a ship’s propeller

(like a Holland America ship experienced (not the one we were on) even as we were sailing) or caught disabling some creature of the sea.

Ship Engines: Most large ships have a big bulb under the bow to lessen the bow wave which creates a drag for a ship. Ships can also have thrusters (little engines that push water away, thus moving the ship in a certain direction like away from a dock). Stabilizers are set back in the starboard and port sides of a ship. They are like airplane wings (small) when they’re sent out into the water to help the ship not rock so badly in rough seas. Diesel engines power the generators that provide electricity to run the “hotel” elements and the engines. Thus they don’t need a long shaft connecting the motors to the propellers.

Magnificent Albatross: These birds have a total wing span of 12 feet. They are designed to glide although they can fly enough to get off the ground. They use their large feet to brake for landing and as their landing gear. They can “fly”/glide for months using very little energy, never landing in that time. They use the wind and an “S” path to incorporate the wind that happens over waves. They turn fish they eat into energy that is equivalent to diesel fuel, very efficient.

We had our laundry done for the 2nd time on April 30th, figuring we could last just washing underwear until we got home. We did fine.

May 1st we’d crossed the Equator so the ship has a ceremony to celebrate that. The King Neptune Ceremony entails various crew members being required by “King Neptune” to swim across the pool and “kiss the fish”. It was just an ugly metal fish, so not so terrible. We all got certificates to mark the occasion as well.

We had an agreement to meet with Jamie and Beth to play cards in the afternoon. Eventually we decided that I didn’t need to learn Canasta because John didn’t want to play it and the ladies I play games with at home (9) would need to split into 2 groups/tables. I’m sure they don’t want to do that. Sometimes Beth and Jamie couldn’t make it so we played with Ken and Gail (dinner tablemates). Speaking of tablemates, during this time Ross and Rosalie decided to try Open Dining, leaving our number at 6. Ken and Gail would be leaving the ship at Honolulu (shorter plane ride to home from there than Vancouver, BC), so our numbers dropped to 4: Larry/Shirley and us so we got to sit at a smaller table after Honolulu.

There were talks on Honolulu and Kuaui as well, our next stops.

We enjoyed most of the evening entertainment adding some time listening to the quartet playing at our “Lincoln Center Stage”.

A fun incident: John told our cabin steward that we had a fly in the room (true). I figured this would not help our situation. Ha! The next day the fly was gone. I asked Dhana how he got the fly. He‘d sucked it up with his vacuum. Why didn’t I think of that?

Also interesting: I would ask for 1 fried egg every morning for breakfast. The buffet attendant would get a cup of 4 eggs that had been broken out of their shells and placed in a small bowl. then drop just one onto the griddle. I asked how he could possibly do that. First he joked that he’d had 10 years experience. Then he explained that every egg has a thin string across its diameter with air pockets at the ends, thus they would remain separate from other eggs broken into a bowl even though they seemed to huddle there as one. If the egg is older it gets more air at the ends and then floats – not a good sign.

About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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2 Responses to Five Days At Sea

  1. Judith Andre says:

    Container ships also drastically reduced the amount of time that loading and unloading took.

    Albatrosses: “There is a comfort in throwing oneself on the charity of ones friends — ’t is like the albatross sleeping on its wings —” John Keats (from Brain Pickings, I think)

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