ON THE ATLANTIC OCEAN
Sometime during the afternoon of our third full day (of six) at sea, we passed the halfway point of our 13-day Trans Atlantic Cruise on Adventure of the Seas.
What can you see in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? Nothing. And everything.
We haven’t seen another living thing since our first day at sea, when we passed two other ships (I saw only one).
“We passed a container ship, the Maersk Amsterdam,,” Capt. Ole-Johan Gronhaug told me, “and a Chinese long-liner.” Those are the fishing boats with miles-long nets that scoop up every bit of marine life, in search of a few, specific kinds of fish. (The rest are thrown away.) He added, “We also saw two pilot whales.”
The captain has crewmen, of course, to keep an eye out – both visually and electronically – for such things 24 hours a day. Maybe the ocean is busier than it looks.
“No, that’s been about it,” the captain said.
I wondered if he sees a lot of debris out here.
“The Atlantic is a comparatively clean ocean,” he said. “Not like the Pacific.”
The Pacific Ocean is getting quite a reputation for its thousands-of-miles-long “gyre” of trash that swirls between the Americas and the Far East. Since last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a whole new wave of garbage has crossed the northern Pacific and is now starting to wash up on Canadian shores.
Capt. Gronhaug says the tsunami junk could cause some navigational problems for ships operating along the North American coast this summer. He pointed to the recent sinking of the Japanese “ghost ship”, adrift since the tsunami, off the Canadian coast as an indication of just how large some chunks of junk might be.
“We don’t see as much of those types of things in the Atlantic,” the captain said.
One of the worst types of ocean debris is shipping units that fall off of container ships. They may or may not sink, depending on what is in them. (I read about a container full of Nike tennis shoes that was spotted about 10 feet under the ocean’s surface.) “Any ship losing something like that is supposed to report it, so other ships will be aware to watch out,” the captain said.
But so far, our path across the ocean has been remarkably clean – and beautiful. It’s a color of navy blue that I have only seen in Murano glass. The dark blue in Royal Caribbean’s logo evokes it. (Maybe that is what they were going for!)
The sky above – today, anyway – is clear and free of any kind of pollution or haze. Sort of the way it was before man came along and mucked it all up. In three days, I haven’t even seen any airliner trails across the sky.
Just sea, sky, clouds.
I thought if I watched very carefully for an hour, and constantly scanned from horizon to horizon, I might see something.
But I saw nothing. And everything.