Jeff Warner PHOTOGRAPHIC, Golden, Colorado, USA

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

9/20/11: 5-meter seas

At some time in the last 24 hours the MV Explorer passed both further east and further south than I’ve ever been. The ocean swell is 4-5 meters, and people all over the ship are seasick, including some of the officers on the bridge. Each day that Heidi is on call she gets to go to the bridge to pick up/drop off the medical pager, and occasionally gets to briefly chat with the crew. Fortunately the boys and I feel fine, though Heidi is feeling a little off.

Although the south-southeasterly winds flowing up the west coast of Africa typically create rough seas, right now the winds are 25 to 30 knots, creating some very impressive waves and swell. Our cabin, being near the front of the ship, is just above the wake being broken by the bow. At night there are lights shining down onto the water, and the view can be both spectacular and frightening at the same time. Our 4th deck cabin window is perhaps only 30 feet above the waterline, so to see it come within 8 or so feet of our window is wild. Some of the students on the second deck are now routinely seeing their porthole below water. I went outside and stood on the 5th deck at 11pm, and occasionally the bow of the ship would essentially become airborne, crashing back down in a huge spray of seawater, pushing a big wake of white bubbles rapidly outward from the ship, perhaps 25m away.

Beyond this white froth, blackness.

A large wave hits the ships wake, late afternoon crepuscular rays in the background.

Standing on the 5th deck (literally just above our cabin), one of the 5 meter waves hits the bow of the ship, sending spray more than 50 feet in the air.

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