Monday, September 21, 2009

[Travelogue] A following sea

Greetings from the future. It's September 22nd here, even though it's still the 21st in California, and will be for another eight hours. We're on the Bering Sea, which is notorious for its bad weather. There's a tropical depression bearing (no pun intended) down on us. We were a little apprehensive about this, particularly since the captain made a special announcement warning everyone to batten down the hatches and secure things that might fall over during the night.

Somehow we manage to have good luck even with bad weather. We're traveling West. Normally that would have us moving into the prevailing wind, which on most of the planet usually goes from west to east. But low pressure systems in the northern hemisphere rotate counterclockwise, and this one is coming up on us from the south, creating a very unusual easterly wind. The result is a following sea, what in flying parlance is called a tail wind. So we have big waves (10-15 feet) but they are moving in the same direction that we are. So where we'd normally be plowing through the waves pitching and rolling, we're instead sailing *with* the waves, and effectively surfing them. The upshot is a (mostly) gentle, slow, and not at all unpleasant roll, with a great show of whitecaps outside.

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