HURRICANE EXPERIENCE

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We never expected to be concerned about hurricanes in the North Atlantic and this was a very scary situation. Now I know I won't cruise in the Caribbean during hurricane season. I wouldn't want to go through this again. Fortunately, we had trust that the captain would do everything possible to keep us and his multi-billion dollar ship out of harms way.

Our first experience was with Hurricane Danielle. We were crossing the Labrador Sea - going from Qaqortoq Greenland to Newfoundland Canada. Danielle was then a tropical storm but the seas had about 10 foot waves. The stabilizers did a fairly good job on the ship. But there were quite a few people that were seasick. Fortunately, not us. The captain had warned of bad seas and suggested people take seasick medicine before we hit the bad weather.

While we were in Newfoundland, we heard about Hurricane Earl from the ship's captain. We hadn't had CNN news on the TV for several days so we were out of touch with the world. There was no internet or satellite around Greenland. The captain said we were going to skip our stop in Sydney Nova Scotia in order to have an extra day to maneuver depending on the path Earl took, which was still very far away. In St. John's Newfoundland we found an internet cafe and were able to get a little more news. We saw that Earl was a category 4 and projected to come right into our path.

After our departure from St. John's we proceeded towards Halifax at full speed in order to try and arrive before the storm. Throughout the cruise we usually sailed at about 12-15 knots which is slow and comfortable. This time we were going about 22-23 knots. During this time it became clear Hurricane Earl was speeding up. The decision was made to skip our Halifax port call and head for the Gulf of Maine near Portland Maine in order to cut in front of the hurricane and be in the sheltered side of the Hurricane. The option of going east, out to sea, was discarded because the eastern side is the most dangerous side of a hurricane and if Earl turned east, we might not be able to out run it.

We reached the Portland area on 9/3. We could not dock because all ports were closed and a ship the size of ours would be more dangerous docked than off shore. We sailed in a triangle pattern for a day. When the hurricane passed us, we were about 150 nautical miles from the eye. But we were on the lower western quadrant and got the least of it. All outer decks were closed off due to the high winds and anything outside was lashed down, including the furniture on our verandah. Fortunately, we were close enough to land to get cell service and we were able to call Nancy to relieve everyone's worry. We also got a call from Kathy who was quite concerned.

When it passed, we sailed south towards Cape Cod which would shelter us from the swell and keep us out of the bad weather which always follows a hurricane in the South Western quadrant. We stayed there for about a day until the weather allowed us to sail around the cape towards New York. While in this sheltered area we had beautiful weather, warm with a little breeze. Decks were opened up and people were even sunning themselves by the pool.

So at the end, we had 4 days at sea instead of 2 days in port and 2 days at sea. The ship gave everyone an 11 x 14 parchment page describing the events. Kind of like a "we survived Earl" thing. Here are some of the Hurricane Facts they had on the sheet.