Jeff Warner PHOTOGRAPHIC, Golden, Colorado, USA

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today at 12:47 local time, the entire ship’s Moment of Silence occurred somewhere off the coast of Liberia. This 10th anniversary of 9/11 was not lost on us, despite the fact that few of us have been able to keep up with any national or world news, at least not in the manner that were are accustomed back home.

I’ll use this day for a quick tangent, some observations about travel at sea that this landlubber finds rather entertaining.

The ocean is big, really big. We all ‘know’ that, but being out in the middle of it (especially crossing the Atlantic), you become aware of how vast the expanse of water is on our planet. If you’ve never done so before, go find a globe, and turn it in a way that you can see as much water as possible. How little land do you see? How much of this half of the surface of the earth is water? Isn’t it odd that virtually all the landmasses of the earth are on only one side of the globe, while the other side is almost completely water?

If you don’t own a globe, go buy one, for your kids’ sake at the very least. There are virtually no map projections that give a realistic view of the relative sizes of continents, most especially the ever-popular Mercator projection, which serves to preserve the relative locations/shapes of landmasses. Further, it’s been posited that many map projections unfairly depict the Western World as being bigger than it really is. Compare the size of Africa on a Mercator map with it’s (accurate) size on the globe. Compared to most other continents, Africa is BIG!

Lastly, you see weird things at sea, out in the middle of nowhere:

  1. While nearly 110 miles off the coast of Mauritania, I looked out the window and saw a little flag go by, floating on the surface of the ocean, sticking up on a pole about 1 meter high. It looked like one of those markers a fisherman would use to mark his net or lobster trap, and I didn’t see any others.
  2. Off the Ivory Coast (as I write this), this morning I looked out our cabin window and happened to see some weird fish surface about 20 meters away. It kept sticking its head out of the water and opening its gaping mouth (maybe 4 to 6” across); it sort of looked like an eel or something, though I have no clue.
  3. More than 50 miles off the coast of Sierra Leone, we were encountering occasional patches of orange-ish seaweed (like you see in pictures of the Sargasso Sea). We encountered one big patch, perhaps the size of a football field, and dispersed about it every 10 or 20 meters would be some random piece of sea garbage.
  4. While showing Heidi the Flying Fish off the port side of the ship on Deck 5, I looked down into the sunlit water and saw what appeared to be a sea turtle, though I couldn’t be sure. It was greenish, and just sort of hovering just below the water’s surface. Had about 10 seconds to watch it before it disappeared to the aft side of the ship.
  5. Two nights ago we had our Extended Family Dinner, where we ‘adopted’ four college students for the voyage (one, Matt Kottenstettle, three degrees removed from Heidi’s friend Erin Brown!). During dinner, all of a sudden people were jumping up left and right, running to the starboard side windows, where a pod of dolphins 100 meters away could be seen jumping out of the water doing flips and barrel rolls.
  6. The color of the Atlantic Ocean is an amazing deep azure blue, much more blue than I would have imagined.  
I can’t remember the last time I saw a high altitude airplane, and I still have no idea why someone named the right side of the ship ‘starboard’, though I’m certain many of the academics on board would be happy to enlighten me.

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