Wed, Sept 21, 2005
We are now nearing Mecatina Island, which isn't exactly where we were heading. We were supposed to go to "Ha Ha Bay" ("Ha Ha" is French for "dead end" but aren't all bays dead ends?). Seems though, that winds of 35 to 40 Knots (more than 20 to 25 kilograms) are considered "high" and that Ha Ha Bay is a bad place to be when the winds are high.
It just this morning occurs to Robert that "cod liver oil" comes from cod (specifically, their liver). There must have been a LOT of cod to provide all the cod liver oil that was shoved down the throats of unwilling children.
It's raining, windy, and looks very cold. The person who announces the trip ashore to Mecatina island clearly didn't major in marketing, as she promises a "blustery, windy day, a day to let you know you're alive!"
Looking out the window, we decide that we'd rather have a warm, cozy day. Unsurprisingly, most of the rest of the passengers agree and only about 20 people head for shore (and half of those are crew and specialists).
Whilst reading "Theatre of Fish" (a book about traveling in Labrador and Newfoundland), Robert discovers how Canada got its name. It's from the Portuguese "Ca nada," which means literally, "there nothing" or "Land of Nothing."
We head up to the bridge so that we can see what a bridge looks like. It's not very high tech, although they do have a couple of fancy radar displays, and many buttons that are beckoning Robert to push them. Even Robert, though, knows that it would be a Bad Idea to start pushing buttons marked "Start Engine."
We do, however, read their mail and notice a fax from the Canadian Government chewing us out for being at Mecatina Island without letting them know. They are pissed about the whole thing and demand (Demand!) that we fill out a form so they can give us permission.
While we are up there with the one lonely watch guy, the Captain decides to move the ship closer to shore so that the zodiacs have an easier time of it coming back. It's pretty interesting to watch (for those who are interested in such things). The captain has his hand on the throttle thingy (which tells the Engine Room how fast he'd like to go). A crewman holds the steering wheel, and the First Officer stands off to the side looking out the window and chain smoking.
When the captain says "hard right," the crewman says "hard right" and turns the wheel all the way right, and the First Office takes a drag on his cigarette.
The shore excursion returns, and we overhear the report: "four lichens, five mosses, two spruces, and a dead seal." Everyone was quite excited about the dead seal as it still had tendons and meat on it.
We are not one teeny little bit sorry we stayed on board and relaxed.
The ship is now rolling back and forth quite roughly. Everybody is staggering around the bar, and most of them haven't been drinking.
An announcement is made that for the next four hours we will be having rough seas with a lot of rolling and pitching.
Rolling is when the ship rolls side to side. Pitching is when the bow (the pointy part) goes up in the air and then comes back down. Rolling is way better--pitching is like being on a roller coaster.
When we look out the windows on the side of the boat, we see nothing but sky, and then nothing but water, and then nothing but sky again. This is amusing for about five minutes.
Robert's sea sickness patch has fallen off—apparently the back of his ear is a fairly high traffic area, as this is the second patch that has disappeared. We try to think of a low-traffic part of Robert (Laura suggests inside his ear, because Robert hardly ever listens) and we finally settle on the bottom of the upper arm.
Lunch is quite interesting—even for those who aren't interested in such things. We're shipping water over the bow and the ship is moving around a lot. Walking through the ship is a matter of going from hand hold to hand hold. When you start walking, you'll be going uphill, then the direction will suddenly shift and you'll be going downhill. It's quite a workout—even sitting upright requires you to constantly adjust your position.
As you can imagine, having a lunch buffet under these conditions is pretty interesting. You're inclined to pick the first three things you come across, whether you like them or not, because you're terrified that the ship will pitch at the wrong moment, and you'll grab onto the soup tureen and you'll be wearing Cream of Celery soup.
All the silverware on the tables has migrated to one end, and they don't trust us with water glasses. Even the crew is beginning to stagger around, and periodically we hear crashes of pans back in the galley.
Robert "feeds the fishes" (his tip: chew your lunch very thoroughly and it'll come up much smoother), while Laura uses her Irish/Norse seafaring blood to resist being sick. Robert finally gives up and heads to his bunk to moan, as does over half the passengers, staff, and crew.
Robert rises and joins Laura in the bar, where she is quietly reading. The sea is still heavy, with the occasional wave breaking over the bow. Here are some tips if you ever find yourself in this situation:
We're back in our room--our porthole looks like a front-loading washing machine window, the waves are breaking over it so frequently.
The waves have settled down somewhat, and we're not bouncing around quite as much. Of course, we're still bouncing around a lot, and frankly it's getting old.
It's also a bit challenging to try to sleep, as you feel like you got a sleeper berth on a roller coaster. Don't think "rocked to sleep by the sea," think "bounced off the walls by an insane sea monster."
But then we think about those brave Vikings going through seas like this in teeny little wooden boats, with no stabilizers and we think: "God! Those people were *&$%@ crazy!!"
Robert & Laura