Endless rolling ocean

by Guest Blogger

December 2, 2005

The sea down here is always in motion: always rolling, forming waves and dissolving them, colliding with itself, shifting forms and colors, casting illusions and revealing secrets – it seems more like a million small seas with separate agendas rather than one large one – like the liquid version of a NY subway terminal at rush hour. And it IS vast beyond any comprehension: we’ve been making a constant speed for the past 8 days and are still very far from our destination. Since our departure, the only indication of ANYthing of the human world on the radar is our sister ship.

You take in the sea in the deep darkness at the end of the day, take a stab at six or seven hours in the bunk, get up in the morning, put in a full day, have dinner, relax a short spell and return to the bridge and only then recall that over that entire cycle of events you were being carried several hundred miles further on an ocean that seems quite similar to the last one you viewed. Three days at that pace from my hometown and you’d have crossed the deep prairie, ascended a massive steppe, traversed a stunning mountain range and entered fully into an arid desert. Here, it is just a few steps across the surface of an unfathomable sea.

Look at a common map of the world. Usually the equator is not placed in the center, but about 2/3 the way down, because so much of the earth’s land is in the northern hemisphere and the mapmakers figure the land is what folks want to know about. Find a map with an accurate scale of the planet and you’ll get an idea of just how much water there is down here…water which is never stilled – with it’s endless companion wind, which cross-hatches it, pounds it, eggs it on, whips it, animates it. And this is during the summer season, when this ocean is considered ‘calm’.

One of the few things on the map you’ll see down here is the "Antarctic Convergence Zone", a rather inelegant name for an amazing phenomenon, according to my colleague Kieran, a veteran of several Antarctic journeys. It’s where the frigid waters and dry air of the Antarctic Ocean meet the warmer waters north. The zone is almost continually experienced as a thick, quiet mist, days in crossing, as the air and waters collide. When you emerge on the southern side, the drop in temperature is immediately noticeable and the air much drier. From that point on, you have to mind your skin condition and the portholes on the ship will fog up since we’ll be a lot more humid inside than the environment outside. It sounds like a cool thing to experience to me, a convergence belt encircling the southern sea.

Take Action: Tell Gorton’s to reel in its parent company, and help put an end to commercial whaling once and for all.

– Nathan

(photo ©Greenpeace/Davison)

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