Saturday, October 27, 2007
Volcanic Eruption

Well, we made it through Bab Adan (Aden) without being boarded by pirates. We watched as the crew mustered to battle stations to the announced "Captain Morgan Drill." That is what they called it. For those not in the know, Captain Morgan is the pirate symbol on a liquor bottle (leave it to me to not know the kind of liquor). They pulled out hoses and charged them and practiced shooting them down the sides of the ship to repel boarders. Pretty neat.

Then yesterday, we passed by a small island called Jabal al-Tair, a volcano that eruped earlier this month, spewing lava into the air, down its sides, killing 4 and injuring 2. The Yemen navy was to the rescue with others, and our Captain was worried about ash as we passed by. We passed while I was teaching my Ecosystems, Biodiversity and Conservation class and stopped what we were doing to watch the volcano erupt. In addition to the white smoke and ash, it billowed black smoke and lava, luckily in small amounts, and with the winds carrying smoke and ash away from us. I have posted a photo.

I am giving exams this week, then we have the Sea Olympics, then Egypt. I made it through the playoffs and am in the finals to represent the faculty. Wish me luck. I am also on the Tug Of War team.

The Red Sea is huge and calm with turtles and petrels and shearwaters, but not in abundance. I have been watching a wagtail (small bird) from the Middle East which has adopted our ship for the last three days. We are not too far from land, so it should be okay when it decides to move on. Toodles.

Posted by Nancy @ 11:46 PM pst

Thursday, October 25, 2007
Captain's Table

So here we are, picking up steam as we round the tip of East Africa to enter the Gulf of Adan. I had dinner with the Captain two nights ago, along with others, and he was quite frank about the dangers. They seem to exceed Malacca Strait with the new intelligence he has. Apparently, pirates in fast boats with rocket propelled grenade launchers and AK 47’s have been attacking passenger boats for cash. If you figure that there are 1000 people on this boat, we should easily have 1 million dollars in cash. But the Captain’s strategy is to again outrun them, and as I write this we are picking up speed to exceed 30 knots. He also plans to turn off our transponder, which tells anyone who we are and where we are, as well as our night running lights, except for those for safety. We also took a schedule precaution. The students were scheduled to have a day off tomorrow and that was shifted to yesterday. They will be in classes and will have less opportunity to be on deck. They also have plans to clear the decks and to have us all get to the center away from the sides. Apparently, an RPG went through a passenger’s window and room in the past on another ship. So, an interesting set of circumstances, but in reality, I feel little chance of our being a part of history in this manner.

When I had dinner at the Captain’s Table, it was all quite fancy. About 20 of us received formal invitations. We got dressed up and went to the forward faculty lounge where many had cocktails. I had a Shirley Temple. The Officers were in their dress blue uniforms and we mingled and then went off to the dining room. This all started at 7:30 p.m. and by the time we sat down it was about 8 p.m. We had place cards and I sat opposite kitty corner from the Captain with about ten at our table and two other tables with folks with other officers. We were having small talk when I declined the wine coming around. When the Captain heard I didn’t drink, he enthusiastically asked “When can you start?” He was jovially inviting me to join the crew. We had a multi course dinner with all the different silver wares and servings and servers. It was really quite nice and elegant and lasted almost 3 hours total. Great fun.

We are getting ready for the Sea Olympics in three days. We have a no class day when we go through the Suez Canal, and all of the students are divided into “seas,” such as the Red Sea, Adriatic Sea, etc. The Faculty, Staff and Life Long Learners have been dubbed "The Dead Sea"….hmmmm. Anyway, I am in the ping pong and tug of war events so far. There is synchronized swim, basketball, soccer (all in tiny venues) and some nontraditional sports such as chest hair braiding and speed-eating jello with chopsticks. Should be fun.

We took staff photos yesterday, and I had one taken solo, it’s on the blog. Toodles…on to Egypt!

Posted by Nancy @ 10:58 PM pst