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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blackout at Sea

At 3:30 or so I woke up for my usual trip to the toilet. All well and good, but getting back to sleep proved tricky. I found myself overly awake. Harumph. Jet lag was not averted, but merely delayed. Oh well. In the past, this early morning European wake-up was the worst of it, so no big deal.

Until 5:45 when the ship lost power. Suddenly eerily quiet after a night of steaming ahead with the roar of the engines in the background, the ship rolled differently on the water. There was an announcement over the shipwide P.A.: "00 to the bridge." Erik woke up and headed to the toilet to discover that the lights would not turn on. The light by my bed was also out. Our room was blackness. The hall had some lighting. We waited, using my phone as a flashlight.

Erik decided to call Guest Services. The hold recording answered saying all staff were currently busy. Well, yes, I guess so. We opened the door back up and peered into the hall. Other guests were starting to do the same and one announced that she'd gotten through and that is was a power outage.

Moments later, the Captain got on the P.A. and announced the engines had shut down with an emergency protocol. They were investigating why and it would be 15 minutes or so to get things back online. He added what was probably intended to be reassuring, but was anything but, "We're not near land or any other ships, so there was nothing to worry about." To his mind, this meant we weren't going to crash into anything. To the newly arrived guests, it sounded like, "We're out in the middle of nowhere with no engine!!!"

A few minutes later, the lights came back on, but clearly not everything was running as the roar was much quieter than before and the ship still pitched much more. The weirdest part was the up and down shudders, as if the whole ship were jumping up and down or as if a giant was trying to start the world's most recalicitrant motorcycle.

The captain came back on and said that one of the engines was back online, but that they were moving slowly to ensure no further damage. Interesting. The ship continues to pitch and roll rather more than before, but so far, my stomach is not especially upset about it.

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