September 16, 2006
Rumors are flying when we arrive back at the Explorer in Kobe harbor. The word is out for folks to return to the ship ASAP for a quick departure.
In a hastily-called meeting, we learn typhoon Shanshan has developed quickly from a tropical depression and will block our path to Qingdao, China. Plan B will see us bypassing China and traveling directly to Hong Kong.
We head southeast from our port in Kobe at a high rate of speed back into the Pacific Ocean while Shanshan makes its way north into the Sea of Japan. Once we’re clear of Shanshan’s high winds (130 mph) and rough seas (30’ swells), we’ll change course westward toward Hong Kong. By this route, the captain promises swells no greater than 6’. We notice later the crew has strapped down all the deck chairs and tables and has stretched ropes along each shelf of books in the library. Hmmmm…
According to the new plan, we’ll need 4 days to reach Hong Kong, arriving on the morning of Sept 21. Our stay there will be extended to 4 days to keep us on our big-picture schedule. Many of the planned field trips to Beijing will now leave from Hong Kong with Semester At Sea picking up the tab for increased travel costs.
Yours in avoiding the perfect storm,