DAY 1: Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Anxiety ridden? Its 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday August 19th 2003. I have been waiting for months for this moment to take place and I believe we will be pushing off within the hour. I won't be seeing land for quite some time and I'm taking my last good look at the coast, just wondering what lies ahead of me.
I was assigned here at Woods Hole to "set sail" for 8:00 a.m. With the scientists coming in and out of the 80-foot charter boat, setting up the computers and equipment, I felt a little useless. I didn' t know what I should do, so I stayed out of the way and made friends with the cookie man. I figured he would save my life out on the high seas. I mean if we hit a storm, and it looked like "the end", I'd want to go out happy and eating my favorite things in life-cookies.
Herb (the cook-e-creator) and I became friends and began swapping recipes before we left the dock. I guess with 7 or 8 hours to spare waiting to push off, what else can you think of to calm your nerves-but food.
When we finally left the dock it was "happy hour" (about 5:00 p.m.) and finally we were off to sea. I stayed on the back deck just looking at the land because I knew we wouldn't be seeing it for some time. Who knew, maybe never again would I see land. I didn't know what to expect. This was a life experience, and you don't know what the deep blue sea has in store for you.
I was finally getting over that feeling of the unknown as we sailed toward the end of Cape Cod and out toward Georges Banks. I knew where I was going and that the journey was the responsibility of the crew and captain. Unfortunately, once I got this feeling we had to turn around because of a computer malfunction. We were headed back to Woods Hole and I heard we might set sail again in the morning if we couldn't resolve the problem that night. We had a chance to use the phone on land if we chose to call anyone. I thought I'd call my mom, being that she was the one that dropped me off at 8 a.m. and maybe we could laugh about the fact that I got out to sea and now I'm back already. It was something special to hear her voice again that day. My mother is a very strong woman who doesn't let you have a minute to doubt your decisions. She said three things: "don't be scared, I love you, and Jesus, Mary and Joseph, be with you on your way." I think she covered the basics. And within an hour or two the computer problem was solved and we were on our way.
On the first night, Randy (who was the owner and Captain of the vessel) showed me all the computers and gadgets he utilized to drive the boat. I was pretty amazed at all the things you need to know before you even think of steering the ship. He even let me steer, but I got worried because, I was driving like a drunk swerving from left to right. It is not an easy job being the captain and I'm glad I wasn't in charge.
As the night grew darker I saw the radiant stars come out to light up the sky. Randy showed me Mars which was an orange color shining brightly. It is unusually close to the Earth. He also pointed out how he could sail according to the stars. Wow I couldn't do that in a million years. It was pitch black out there.
As the boat crashed through the small swells, I saw the luminescence of the jellyfish in the wake. Pretty neat stuff! After a bit I had to turn in for the night because my a.m. shift would be here before you know it.