Posted by: Jerry Garrett | April 24, 2012

Day 9: Adventure of the Seas Trans Atlantic Cruise

Atlantic Ocean, crossed. (Jerry Garrett Photos)

CANARY ISLANDS, Spain

The Canary Islands have nothing to do with birds.

That’s the first thing I learned about these islands, just off the coast of Morocco, as we approached them last night on the last of our sixth consecutive days (seven nights! arghh) at sea, on our Adventure of the Seas Trans Atlantic cruise.

The islands get their name from Roman times, when explorers re-discovered them, and found them infested with wild dogs. Cane, or cani, is Latin or Roman or something for dog/dogs. But the only wild things here these days are the packs of European tourists who descend upon the Canaries in the millions (5 to 10 million) per year (as compared to the local population of something less than a million).

All that said, the first real sign of life, after seeing nothing for five of the six days at sea, was a flock of small yellow canaries just off the coast. They flew alongside the ship for a few minutes, as we plowed through the waves. As an indication of our tortuous progress, these little sparrow-sized birds soon passed us.

We have been bucking a strong head wind the entire crossing.  Last night, it strengthened to gale force – or thereabouts. I’m no expert on winds (but I do read Wikipedia!). But at one point near midnight, the information screen on the ship’s television system said “apparent wind 62 mph” (I don’t know what that distinction means). Spray was so thick, you couldn’t go outside without getting soaked (all the way up on deck 14!). The winds were so strong, however, you couldn’t have stood up, even if you had braved going outside (or been stupid enough to try).

And then it all but stopped. Just like that. The seas became quiet and the ship stopped fighting the storm. It was rather eerie. But welcome. It was like a ferry across Puget Sound.

Our final day of six consecutive at sea was uneventful. Banks of clouds scudded by, the waves splashed, the sun shone, and eventually it was nightfall. I saw the trail of a Europe-to-South America jet streak by – the first sign of a plane in seven days. A puff of smoke blew off the coast of Africa, and at sunset, I began to see faint lights along the coast. But then there was some fog until near dawn.

Tenerife plaster of parrot.

The port of Tenerife came into view shortly before sunup. The landscape here looks like a cross between the moon and Riverside, California. A full report in tomorrow’s edition.

But one final thing: After my politically and factually correct explanation of the origination of the name of the Canary Islands, what do I see, the first thing when I get off the ship this morning? Somebody dressed up in a seven-foot-tall parrot costume.

Message to the tourism board: I would have gone with the bird too. It was a much more welcoming an alternative than the pack of wild dogs…

Jerry Garrett

April 23, 2012

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