The event took place onboard the Norwegian Escape, an NCL super vessel that had begun a routine cruise out of New York to Port Canaveral, Florida and then to the Bahamas before returning to New York. On Sunday evening, March third of this year, New York Daily News reporter David Boroff and a close friend left New York onboard for a "fun in the sun" break from New York living. He had written about cruise ship accidents and disasters but never thought he would be a living witness to something potentially horrific. Late that evening, the two men were enjoying a visit to the Comedy Club when the ship started hitting significant turbulence in the sea. Shortly thereafter, it listed to port suddenly about ten degrees and the room went topsy-turvy. Glasses toppled, tables slid down the now inclined floor and chairs flew. Even some of the guests hit the wall, thankfully none seriously injured. They managed to go back to their quarters by holding tight to the leaning stairwell railings, having no idea what might happen next. They even donned their life jackets in case the ship needed to be evacuated. There was broken glass and toppled furniture everywhere. But gradually the ship's stabilizers began to fully right the vessel and all came back to normal, excepting the damage done. It was quiet the rest of the night and the men realized when they went to breakfast the next morning that no sign remained of the damage, but all were offered the opportunity to leave the ship at Port Canaveral if they wished to sail no longer. They opted to stay onboard.
So, what actually happened. Well, the story didn't say but my guess is they went across the northern wall of the Gulf Stream at the time of a passing cold frontal system. Where the Gulf Stream makes a more northeasterly tack off the mid-Atlantic from Virginia northward, the warm water hitting the colder inshore water of the Labrador Current and the cold, windy frontal air often creates what is literally a wall of water in the days leading up to springtime. A similar event occurred a few years ago when a Naval supply ship on the way encountered just such conditions and suffered significant damage. Seasoned mariners have told legends about this phenomenon of clashing cold and warm in the Atlantic for generations. I guess, my friends, we have to chalk it up to the time around the Ides of March. In any event, I found it interesting as it points out once again the power of the sea and how she can change suddenly with no notice.
Do we really think we can tame the ocean? Well, folks, that is wishful thinking and we need to respect it and study it thoroughly to avoid tragic consequences as this event clearly could have been. I guess we just have to be thankful that it was a miss and not a clear hit.
Hat tip to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for covering the event.