Ahoy 5170 Century Builders,
I have mentioned several times that we are on the Great Circle Route
and it occurred to me that you might like to know what that means. The
Great-circle route is the shortest, most direct route between two points
on the earth¹s surface. A great circle is any circle that divides
the globe into equal halves. Its length is the same as that of the equator.
On most flat maps, a straight line appears to be the shortest distance
between two places.
A great circle route often appears as a longer curve. But maps are
not true pictures of the surface of the earth. Maps are flat, but the
earth is a sphere. The shortest distance between any two points on the
earth can be found easily only on a globe. The shortest distance lies
along the great circle passing through the two points. A special kind
of map called gnomonic projection shows a great circle route as a straight
By taking the Great-circle route from West of Vancouver, BC to Tokyo,
Japan we saved almost 400 miles as opposed to sailing “straight”
across from Oakland to Tokyo. That is the equivalent of almost one full
day extra at sea. Actual sailing time for us is only 8 1/2 days. I told
many of you that that it would be 10 days but because we sailed in the
evening and arrive in the morning and we loose a day to the International
Dateline our actual time is only 8 1/2 days.
In Peregrinations II Paul Harris wrote how seasick his wife Jean was.
I am sure if someone would have suggested that going to Yokohama by
the Great-circle route she would have saved a day. I think she would
have said skip Hawaii go North.
The sea had been rough almost all the way across the Pacific and as
they were approaching Japan. She was upset with herself for being so
excited about going on this trip. She said that “it would never,
never occur again.” Paul then reminded her that she had said the
same thing a year ago when they were crossing the Bay of Biscay en route
from England to South Africa and reminded her of the fact that her sickness
had completed its course in three days, she repeated the memorable words
of Edgar Allen Poe¹s raven, “Nevermore”.
It is 5:00PM on the 15th and Cindy and I went up to the Bridge just
in time to see us pass a bulk carrier (a ship which carries grain, coal,
or ?) on the starboard side who was going in the same
indirection as we were but at only 11 Knots per hour instead of our
22 knots per hour. It is certainly nice to be on a ship that does not
take 17 days to get to Japan. While we were up there we could see that
we were going into a dark cloud area and when we got there it hailed
for a few minutes until we got to the other side of it. We were slowly
approaching the most West island of the Aleutian Island Chain, Attu
The island is very rugged and rises to a maximum elevation of 3000
feet on its NE side. We passed within 15 miles and we could see through
the binoculars provided by the ship that it was entirely covered with
snow. There are numerous bays which indent the coasts of the island.
At the heads of most of the bays there are huts, locally called “barabaras”,
built by the native Aleuts for use during the fur trapping season. We
were too far away to see them and I was happy to be inside a temperature
Cindy would like to share a few words. I will go read and try to learn
a few Japanese words.
We are slowly approaching the International Date Line. Once we
reach that point on the map we will loose a day. According to the Chief
Officer we will keep Sunday and then skip to Tuesday. They could have
skipped Sunday and gone to Monday but that would mean skipping the day
they have ice cream for dessert so Sunday is never a day they throw
I am happy to report that this experience continues to be a smooth
and pleasant one. We remain dry and comfortable within the living quarters
of the ship while all around us is miles of cold arctic water, cloudy
skies and occasionally white capped waves.
The majority of the officers, whose primary native language is
German, are always very courteous and willing to engage in conversation
with us. It is true that they speak English, the language of seagoing
vessels. However, I feel fortunate that Ron has the ability to speak
German as this permits us to keep a comfortable amount of conversation
understood. They are very polite; they even think that Ron speaks well.
Ron says they are kinder than most Germans about his speaking ability.
Today was our laundry day and it¹s nice to have the convenience
of a stackable washer and dryer. The instructions and information for
all the settings are in German. I tried my best to “wing it”
but the instructions weren¹t easily understood. I enlisted Ron
to assist with reading the instructions. It is a good thing we are not
on a ship where neither one of us would know their first language.
Saying goodbye from around 400 miles west of Attu Island in the Bering
Sea on the Great Circle Route to Tokyo, Japan. Until we see you on the
Ron and Cindy