August 17, 2006
This is my third day at sea, and here are some of my initial impressions of being on the ocean. It feels very other-world like to be in an environment where there are virtually are no points of reference, such as the roads, trees and buildings that I am used to on land. On a clear day like today I can look out from the deck of the ship and see all the way to the horizon about 10-12 miles in every direction. Occasionally a ship can be spotted out on the horizon or we pass a buoy bobbing at the ocean surface. Usually though there is nothing to break up the vast expanse of churning blue water, and the ship feels like a spacecraft, alone in the emptiness of space.
The first night when the sea was rough, I lay in my bed listening to the sounds and feeling the thuds as wave after wave broke against the hull. I could see the water as it rose up against the porthole, blocking out the failing light and throwing dark shadows across the room. It was an unnerving experience to realize that there was only a thin layer of steel between me and the wild ocean. By the morning though all was calm and a deep orange light from the rising sun shone into the cabin, casting a dancing orange shadow on the metal frame of the bunk opposite my bed. It was a surreal and beautiful sight to wake up to.
Last night I spent time outside on one of the decks at front of the ship. Unlike the rear workplace deck of the ship that is floodlit all night, there were no polluting lights out front and I could clearly see the sparkling panorama of the night sky - the Big Dipper, and maybe over a thousand other stars. The Milky Way galaxy was visible as a dim band of whitish light spanning the sky from horizon to horizon. This awe-inspiring display of the nighttime sky is something I have rarely seen, as I have lived in or near big cities for most of my life.