Jeff Warner PHOTOGRAPHIC, Golden, Colorado, USA

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

8/31/11 North Atlantic Ocean

So although the seas were predicted to be calm throughout our crossing of the Atlantic, the eerily calm, foggy waters of the 28th and 29th have since given way to 2.5m swells yesterday, even bigger today. The skies parted for most of the day on the 30th, and we were treated to a spectacular sunset over the North Atlantic, and Heidi and I had dinner outside on Deck 6. The sea temperature is a balmy 71 degrees F, and the 11,000’-deep water, when stirred up by the ship, is an utterly amazing azure blue, similar to the color in some alpine lakes, or in glacial ice.

Heidi on Deck 6 with Michael Williams, the Director of the Cape Town Opera, who is on board to teach drama.

There is a finally some sense of routine on board, with the college students getting engrossed in their classes, faculty busy keeping on track, and staff merrily doing their jobs about the ship. I, on the other hand, cannot seem to get on top of this headache that was an extra-special aspect of my strain of Reade’s cold. 24 hours a day Advil just barely takes the edge off, and the sore throat keeps me from eating crunchy—dare I say, more healthy­—things. It’s currently the 31st at 1705, and each of the last two days I’ve felt incrementally just a bit better. A very small bit, but a bit nonetheless. Last night I discovered the hard way that:


e.g., a conservative dose of Cough Syrup with Codeine + Ambien = Up All Night, not able to sleep. I should have instead tried the recently-released-as-hostage Black IPA that I have waiting in the refrigerator for my return to health. [It’s a long story, but I bought it in Boston when all the adults were on board for the Forum, where upon boarding security promptly relieved me of its possession until we departed Montreal with all the college kids on board, when it magically (nautically?) became ‘OK’ to have in my room. Huh?]

The observation deck of the MV Explorer, roughly 50' above the waterline.

I now have little clue what day it is, and if it weren’t for this blog, I’d literally have no idea. The college classes alternate in “A” days and “B” days; this fourth day of class is B2. Heidi, the boys and I have been going to the Global Studies lecture on B days; this is the ‘core’ class that is required of all college students, and strongly recommended for everyone else. Today we got a very brief dilution of world history; the last 600 years was comically compressed into about a half-hour, and Professor Scott Sernau did a fantastic job with it. Additionally, on the two days leading up to a port, there will be two pre-port lectures, one about the culture of where we’re going, and the other more related to State Department travel advisories. I had wanted to sit in on a Global Climate class, but this bug has kept me down that early in the morning, especially losing a precious hour of sleep roughly every other night. Now that I’m out here on the ocean, completely clueless about this ship, about nautical lingo, and even what’s underneath the surface of this vast expanse of water, I think I’ll instead sit in on the Oceanography class, which is also at 0800. Curiously, Geology is also at 0800. I guess us science geeks get the short end of the liberal arts education stick!

Speaking of which, last night at about 3 AM we crossed the mid-Atlantic ridge, the weird-looking line that most people probably ignore on ocean floor maps that lies in a swervy north-south direction, roughly equidistant between land masses to the east and west. It is basically the place on the ocean floor where the youngest rocks on earth reside; these spreading centers send out basaltic lava thousands of feet below the surface, creating new oceanic crust that pushes the plates slowly apart, in opposite directions. Iceland basically lies in this geologic zone, albeit the only place on earth (to my knowledge) where it is actually above sea level. Ironically, I happened to teach Tate about this stuff yesterday, as his science book was going over the basics of plate tectonics. How many people can say that they crossed the mid-Atlantic ridge on the exact day that they learned about it in school?

Since getting well clear of the weather behind us, two days ago the Captain slowed our speed from 21 knots down to 15 knots. My assumption is that we were going faster than normal leaving North America in order to get as far away from Irene as possible, and we now need to get our average speed down to 17-ish knots as we approach Morocco. I haven’t yet done a bridge tour so this is mostly conjecture on my part, but lots of aviation and marine knowledge goes hand in hand, there’s just an extreme difference in density of the mediums we operate in or upon. This ship is fascinating, and I’d have hundreds of operational/technical questions if given access to the poor sap on the ship’s crew tasked with answering such things.

We’re currently about 200 nautical miles north of the Azores, and I’ll try to get in one more post prior to arriving in Morocco. On the first day in Casablanca, we have a city orientation tour scheduled, which includes seeing one of the largest mosques in the world. On the 4th of September we depart for an overnight trip starting in Marrakesh, where we will spend one night before proceeding up into the Atlas Mountains to hike between Berber villages.

Should be amazing!

Sorry, gotta include one sunset pic, just for the record!


  1. Looks amazing so far! Feel better and I can't wait for the Morocco photos. I request one of the spice markets...

  2. So sorry you are sick! I know a great PA! Your blogs are wonderful. Can't wait to travel with you! Have fun, Be safe. Love to the Family xoxox

  3. Of course you get the gnarliest bug ever...well, this means you won't be sick again for at least four months! Hang in there and keep up these fantastic blogs. Looking forward to the Morocco one!


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