Sunday, June 05, 2011

A 21st century cruise to Antarctica.

On a hot summer day in the northern hemisphere, it's natural to find an article about Antarctica adventure interesting. I am talking about the article in Sydney Morning Herald entitled "In memory of Mawson" a couple of days ago. The memory is about Sir Douglas Mawson's historic 1911-14 expedition, according to the article "it's timely to remember one of the great Antarctic heroes of the 20th century. An Australian geologist from Adelaide, Mawson was on Shackleton's 1908-09 Nimrod expedition." I guess for those of us who might not have heard of Sir Mawson, we have at least heard of Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton -- that's how I got interested in reading the article in the first place. It's a rather long article, I am not very certain if this is a travelogue about his adventure on the Antarctic cruise or advertise it as travel report. Nevertheless it's a good article to read. I am especially intrigued by this paragraph:
The swell builds all day until, that night, it peaks at 10 metres. At dinner, we hold on to our plates and watch the windows of the dining room submerge, like the doors of front-loading washing machines on the rinse cycle. After dessert, a few of us put on wet-weather jackets and stand at the stern railing watching a procession of monster waves chasing us, the 90km/h winds blowing rain squalls and salt spray in our faces, until a couple of rogue waves catch up to the ship and splash over the aft deck, forcing us inside. It's a rolling night; the sea breathes deeply under us.
Somehow the writer alluded to freaque waves very casually as "a couple of rogue waves catch up to the ship and splash over the aft deck, forcing us inside" but no panic, no damage, no big deal as one might imagine when a cruise ship encounters the freaque waves. The academic freaque waves community still has yet to come up a viable definition, the cruise shipping folks seems to have already taken it for granted -- no big deal!

Anyway I find the article is educational for me to learn some more about historical Antarctica expeditions. I don't think I might be interested in participating in one of those cruises, but it is always of interest to read someone else' adventures. Oh, yes, at the end of the article there is this note: "Louise Southerden travelled courtesy of Orion Expedition Cruises." So the author is indeed obligated to advertise his cruise adventure. Is that the reason why he talked about the freaque wave encounters so unexcitingly?

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