2 December, 1995

December 2, 1995

Location: 54 45 South Latitude x 169 58í West Longitude Approximately 950 miles from New Zealand.


Sometimes you become so accustomed to the world that you live in that you forget the obvious. As I was standing on the aft deck waiting for the start of the sunset, it finally dawned on me that I was at sea. I had never really thought of it until that instant and then it just overwhelmed me for quite awhile. It is hard to explain, but I had always just thought of the sea as being an extension of the cruise. It was part of our everyday life. It could invigorate or it could nauseate. It was both friend and foe.

But at that instant of blinding illumination on the aft deck, I realized that I was at sea. I know that this may sound ridiculous to suddenly realize that you were at sea, but, growing up in the Midwest, the ocean is far from our daily thoughts . It just finally seemed remarkable that people could and have traveled such great distances on ships and boats. The original Antarctic explorers ventured these same oceans to discover the cold ice covered continent to our south. They traveled there in wooden ships under sail, but at speeds nearly the same on average as we have maintained on our cruise.

They say that sailors have a kinship with the sea, and I believe that I have finally begun to understand. The ocean has an enchantment that is ethereal. It calls with a song of excitement and adventure tempered by the pounding rhythm of the swell. There is potential danger at every turn. It can be storms, high waves, cold, or the suffocating envelop of the water itself. It is an enigma, a paradox that something so dangerous can be so beautiful. I think that is why we are attracted to the ocean. There seems to me to be no other place where you can feel the exhilaration and beauty of nature so completely and encompassing.

I watched the sunset with from near the helicopter deck with three cruise mates tonight. The word travels past when a great sunset is on the way. Everyone seemed to have the same idea, and I found myself in a crowd. It was wonderful having people to share the event with. An I mean that the sunset today was an event. The sun set through a misty haze on the south western horizon. It was a brilliant yellow disk, setting the haze alight with yellow. It was easy to become transfixed as the sun slowly descended below a low bank of clouds and gradually dimmed until we had dusk.

We talked about the beauty that was all around us. Occasionally a large wave would break sending spray onto the deck , but no one left. Finally in the gray evening light, there were just two of us left, standing and watching. We didnít talk much. It seemed that little that we had to say seemed appropriate at this time. We talked of family and home. We talked a bit about the cruise. Mostly we just stood and watched, knowing that in a few days opportunities like this would be gone.

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