30-31 January – Sea days spent Pondering

Satellite internet is always a challenge when you get in to the ‘dead’ zone of broadcast. Now I wonder if it is the dead zone for a British Ship and not a Chinese Ship or American Ship or it is everyone’s satellites that can’t find us? Even if we would have had internet coverage around the world, some of the satellites might be defunct or have fallen out of the sky. Whatever is the reason, truly you can say, “I won’t be reachable because I’m at sea.” Not very often in today’s society are we not reachable in some way. Does anyone remember when you were so far out in the USA you had no contact with home? It happens but not often. It used to be a great excuse when you went on a cruise back in the 1990’s – sorry I won’t be reachable. Now it doesn’t seem possible to fully disconnect, and we are wonder why.

Steve found another poem that works for this situation:

Excerpt from “The Prelude” by William Wordsworth
When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign is Solitude!

Now that is not quite how we are feeling about the world, although having absolutely no news on TV to hear, that form of solitude is quite wonderful. Love walking the ship and finding interesting things to take a photo.

So what do you do on a ship with no internet – attend more lectures.

The shipping lecture includes a factoid – on April 26, 1956 was the first time a ship was used to carry containers from port to port. It was an old Navy ship acquired by the man who started Sealand and did it with 48 containers from Newark to Houston. I almost can’t believe it has only been since 1956! Now, there are ships that will hold almost 14,000 containers!

As for the Malaysian airplane, probably a fire, smoke killed the passengers and the plane was shot down by the Malaysian Air Force, which thought the plane was one that didn’t belong in their airspace. The lecturer explained why this is his and others’ theory to explain the missing plane’s demise. There is now a fisherman who has come forward (in another country) and says he saw the plane go down and has his GPS coordinates at the time. Also, did you know a piece of the airplane was found on Reunion Island (a stop later on this cruise)? Strange story.

More on the Panama Canal – October 1, 1979 the Panama Canal Commission formed to begin a 20 year transition from U.S. ownership to Panama ownership. At first they attempt to transition immediately the railroad and some of the construction equipment for using with the railroad. Within 2 years the railroad has stopped working, primarily due to ignorance. First, the Panama people didn’t know what a warehouse with parts was about so they sold all the spare parts normally being used to repair the rails. They burned the grass along the tracks thus ending up setting fire to railroad ties and had none to replace the ones they burned. All the procedures were in English and had to be rewritten to Spanish.

In order to make the transition smoother, there are 4,000 U.S. employees working in Panama companies and the Canal Zone who have to replaced. They happen to be the brain trust and Panama doesn’t have their own people trained yet. So years have to pass before there are enough Panamanian people to replace the U.S. workers. 14 US military bases and over 7,000 buildings are transitioned. Amazing amount of work to transfer a country back to itself! December 31, 1999 is when the Panama Canal is officially transferred to Panama – U.S flag taken down, Panama flag now flies.

Then there is the Captain’s cocktail party where we learn a couple has cruised with Cunard for 2,761 over the past 20 years – 20 World Cruises alone! They have homes in New Zealand and USA which might explain it, since they must never take an airplane.

And we read. Starting and finishing books that sounded like a good idea when we downloaded them, is in fact a good idea now. Instead of getting lost in the internet, we find ourselves focused more tightly on topics of tenor. Our conversations over meals turn from the mundane to matters of substance. We find parallels in books on completely different subjects. This week, the parallels seem to center on the difference between “being” and “doing.” Why not both?

The seas are quite calm. A usual wind that comes over the mountains between Guatemala and Mexico is quiet so we sail smoothly through the waters. Birds are flying back and forth and alongside the ship. The Captain tells us these are Brown Boobies circulating the ship (yes, they are mostly white), common in these waters.