Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Doctor Was Out, But Now He's Really In

The mercury hit 40 degrees C (that's 104 degrees F for Americans) on the day we arrived in Cape Town. Why so hot? Because the Doctor was out.

The Doctor is the wind that regularly cools Cape Town, blowing away pollutants and oppressive heat. Wind plays a big role in Cape Town's climate. In addition to cleaning the air, it has a huge effect on the overall climate. Most important (and most surprising to us) is that the wind causes the ocean around Cape Town to be colder in the summer than it is in the winter; this moderates the seasonal swing in air temperatures. Apparently the prevailing winds blow out the warm water in summertime, allowing cold waters from the deep to rise to the surface.

The Doctor returned with a vengeance two days later. Winds hit at least 70 knots, well into hurricane range. Ships -- including the National Geographic Explorer, which were scheduled to board in the afternoon -- were unable to enter the harbor. So the Doctor left us stranded. We ended up sailing a day behind schedule. That means we will miss one stop along our scheduled itinerary. But, as we will discuss in our next blog posting, we also got to squeeze in some additional sightseeing around Cape Town.

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