Sail (Far) Away: At Sea with America’s Largest Floating Gathering of Conspiracy Theorists

Sail (Far) Away: At Sea with America's Largest Floating Gathering of Conspiracy Theorists

Sail (Far) Away: At Sea with America's Largest Floating Gathering of Conspiracy Theorists

I’ve never been a fan of cruises, mainly because you can’t leave if they suck. Pity, then, Jezebel reporter Anna Merlan, who spent a week aboard the Conspira Sea cruise. Her account of the experience was actually rather restrained, all things considered. I’m betting that the Popular Mechanics team won’t be so gentle when their report is published…

by Anna Merlan

“Once we’re in international waters, every woman on the ship gets to make love to whoever she wants,” Sean David Morton said, with a wink.

It was not entirely clear why we couldn’t have done that already, where we were, sitting immobile on the Ruby Princess, a “grand class” yacht moored in San Pedro, California, an oil refinery and port town just south of L.A. But we were making ready to sail away from our conventional ideas about laws, up to and including the laws of cause and effect.

Morton is a radio host, among other things. Here he was one of the lead organizers of Conspira Sea, the first annual sea cruise for conspiracy theorists. While the ship looped from San Pedro to Cabo San Lucas and back, some 100 of its passengers and I would be focused on uncharted waters, where nothing is as it seems. Before we docked again, two of them would end up following me around the ship, convinced I was a CIA plant.

Elsewhere aboard, people’s vacations were already exuberantly underway, the cigarette-browned casino bustling. Those of us in the conspiracy group were crammed into a dim, red-carpeted conference room in the bowels of Deck 6 to hear Morton, a Humpty Dumpty-shaped man with a chinstrap beard and an enormous, winking green ring, explain our mission.

“Conspiracy theorists are always right,” Morton told the room. He spoke with the jokey cadence and booming delivery of his profession; he’s basically Rush Limbaugh, if Rush Limbaugh claimed to have psychic powers (Morton practices a form of ESP known as “remote viewing,” which he says he learned from Nepalese monks). It was a bit of a pander, since the room was filled with conspiracy theorists.

“In 40 years,” Morton added, “as many people will believe a bunch of Arabs knocked down the World Trade Center as will believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.” A lot of people nod.

The things that everyone thinks are “crazy” now, he said, “the mainstream will pick up on them. 2016 is going to be one of those pivotal years, not just in American history, but in human history as well.”

A solemn hush settled. Morton switched gears. “Did you hear about Deflategate?” he asked. “Those footballs were in an elevator with Ray Rice!” (The New England Patriots had been accused of illegally deflating footballs, I guess the joke was, the same way former Ravens player Ray Rice knocked his fiancée unconscious in an elevator). No discernible reaction. He tried again: “What do Brokeback Mountain and Dallas have in common? They both have cowboys who suck!” That one got a light ripple of laughter.

The Conspira Sea was conceived of and organized by Morton and Dr. Susan Shumsky, a no-nonsense New Age Jill-of-all-trades with long blonde hair and an excellent pair of rhinestone-spangled cat-eye glasses. Morton, the de facto master of ceremonies, was introducing the conspiracy cruise presenters for 15-minute individual previews of what they would be teaching in our week at sea. (The presenter schedule was removed from the internet soon after the cruise ended, but a cached version is available here.)

There was Helen Sewell, a British astrologer, and her husband Andy Thomas, a conspiracy researcher. There was Jeffrey Smith, an anti-GMO activist with no scientific credentials and a previous career in “yogic flying.” There were Sherri Kane and Leonard Horowitz, a team in both research and life, who were there to tell us how the media and the CIA control the gullible populace…



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