Hurricane Watch

October 30, 2018

So what was I doing in the English Channel just out of Portsmouth, UK, refreshing the National Hurricane Center website for the EASTERN Atlantic every five minutes?  It’s a long story.

Molly and I just finished an incredible cruise around the perimeter of western Europe on the Viking Ocean Cruise ship Viking Sun.  This cruise is only offered once a year and I though Europe might experience the sort of Indian Summer in early October that we almost always get in New England.  Wrong.

We started out in beautiful Bergen Norway at the end of a scenic fiord — right into the North Sea.   But as we left, the captain warned on the intercom that the winds would be about 45 knots and the seas about 20 feet from the west — dead on the beam as we headed south for Amsterdam.  Now the Sun is 747 feet long (900 passengers, 450 crew), but that’s a “small” cruise ship.  So I told our non-sailing dinner companions (as they laid into the unlimited wine, gourmet food and deserts) that it might get a little rolly.  And roll we did.  I was fine and Molly was, too, after a double-dose of prescription anti-nausea medicine, but at breakfast next morning what few people there looked pretty green.  (I had a waffle with berries, sour cream and Norwegian brown cheese).

After a couple wonderful days in Amsterdam, Bruges, Belgium, Honfleur, France and Portsmouth, we headed out to sea, ostensibly for Falmouth in Cornwall.  Then the captain came on again in his heavy Norwegian accent, “Well, haven’t we had a great week, wasn’t Nelson’s Dockyard wonderful, etc. etc.  So we just headed out to see to go to Falmouth, but well, to get to Falmouth we’d have to head right into what now called Storm Callum, 50 knots on the nose and 20-foot breaking seas.  And the port of Falmouth has been closed. So we’re just going to take two days at sea and head down to Oporto, Portugal.  It will be a little rough, but because hurricanes Michael and Leslie have come together and made a big low in front of us that’s moving on, the winds will be coming from our stern.”  HURRICANES?  Well, actually they were just tropical storms which scared the heck out of the Portuguese and Spaniards, but it really was Surfin’ Safari all the way south.  Again, we were fine and the crew did an exceptional job of feeding, entertaining, consoling and cleaning up after us.

So what is the little Tardis doing in the middle of the Straights of Gibraltar doing 19 knots, as shown from the picture of the chart on my phone?  Pat Harris introduced me to this wonderful app called BoatBeacon that tracks every ship in the world that has an Automatic Identification System, and turns your phone into a faux AIS beacon.  When we got into the middle of the Straights at 2 am. I was very popular with the six die-hard sailors up on deck watching the lights on shore and looking at the Viking Sun move through the straights on my phone.  Then we came within range of a cell tower near Tangier, and there was the Tardis, riding piggy-back on the Viking Sun!

A few boaty pictures follow.  Viking is the Number 1 cruise line in the world, and apart from a little tough weather at sea, the land weather, sights, tours, food, everything was incredible.  We are doing Paris to the Seine and the Normandy beaches this spring, and a Rhine river cruise and Mediterranean ocean cruise in 2020.

And west coast of Florida, and Maine or Bust on Tardis this year!

Route Map

Start — Beautiful Bergen, Norway

Molly is ready to cruise!

Viking Sun Ocean Cruise Ship

The Explorer’s Lounge, high up in the bow of the ship. My favorite place. Every book is about exploration.

My seat in the Explorer’s Lounge. Right above the bridge, so I can help the Captain at any time when needed.

I could have spent a week at the Dockyard in Portsmouth

This fellow in Honfleur created a Viking yacht, complete with a greenhouse!

Cartagena. Every stop in Spain had a yacht harbor right downtown. The majority sailboats, rare now in the USA.

End of the trip — Barcelona.


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