Posted by: Jerry Garrett | April 15, 2012

Crossing the Atlantic – 100 Years After Titanic

RMS Titanic leaving harbor 100 years ago this week. (White Star archives)


It did not occur to me, two or three months ago when I booked a Trans-Atlantic cruise, that it would be leaving on the exact date that the Titanic sank 100 years ago.

MS Adventure of the Seas - a lot has changed a century later! (Royal Caribbean)

But here I am in San Juan, Puerto Rico today, about to set sail on a 13-day voyage to Malaga, Spain, on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas.

Granted, the Titanic’s route was completely different: Southampton, England, to New York. But the Atlantic Ocean is what it is: A vast, dark, deep, treacherous sea that has challenged seafarers for centuries. Consider it lightly, at your peril.

You think about things like this, anytime you embark on an epic voyage like a Trans-Atlantic crossing. Let me explain my connection with such crossings.

A good comparison: 21st Century QM2 & 1850's sailing ship (Sydney Morning Herald)

I’ve done it before; I crossed in 2007 on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. That wound up being a harrowing adventure, in which we encountered a Force 11 storm. We were confined to cabins for nearly two days while the QM2 ploughed through waves as tall as the ship. Looking out the windows on the lower decks was like being in an aquarium; at one point a whale swam alongside, before diving under the bow, farther into the ocean’s depths.

I saw one other boat, in the five days it took to make the crossing; it was a tiny, single-masted sailboat heading to England. I can’t imagine how it could have made it; but more unsuitable ships than that have made the crossing.

Boston harbor 1856 by Fitz Henry Lane

My ancestors, the Goble family, made a crossing from Liverpool to Boston in 1856 on a leaky, overcrowded, poorly outfitted mail packet boat, called the Horizon. The tiny craft was ill-suited to the task, and the crew inept; the Horizon made such slow progress, it actually blew back into port three days after it had left, and ran aground. (That would have been the only clue I needed that this was a bad idea.) But my ancestors pressed on. Many people onboard lost their lives, including the infant son of the Goble family (there’s a lot more to this story than I’m telling here). It took more than five weeks for them to get to Boston!

The Mayflower

Actually, that’s not as bad as you might imagine. The Mayflower needed 66 days to sail across, in 1620.

I like my chances in a massive, modern cruise ship like Adventure of the Seas a lot better! It’s only supposed to take six days, or less, to actually cross the Atlantic this time.

The weather is supposed to be fair for our crossing, and the seas calm. But check back here daily for the next two weeks, I will try to keep you posted on our progress across the Atlantic Ocean.

Jerry Garrett

April 15, 2012

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