Embracing the Absurd
May 1, 2023
Greta Nelson, Deckhand, B-Watch
11° 07.4’ N, 151° 16.5’ W
2449 nautical miles
Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Winds ENE 15-20kts, Seas 4-5 ft, Sailing under Mains’l, Main and Fore Stays’ls, and the Jib.
Description of location
the middle of the Pacific Ocean
As we round the half-way point, I’m trying harder to cue into the absurd. As crazy as it seems, while focused on all the details and logistics of daily life I have found myself forgetting that I am in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, farther from land than I may ever be again. Sometimes I’m just trying to stay upright while I’m brushing my teeth and then I look up and realize that the horizon is endless. And then I am laughing and spitting my tooth paste into the middle of the Pacific and the absurdity keeps on rolling.Our world never stops moving, and the windier it gets the more often I get tossed into the wall on my way to the bathroom. When I am working, I am told to repeat back anything I am told, and somehow it doesn’t get annoying (callbacks are an integral part of good comms out here).When we decide to turn our house around, we tell the kitchen first so the next meal doesn’t go flying. Last week a giant tentacle came up on the wire as we pulled up the meter net. I wondered who it was attached to while picking through a bucket of pink goo, bracing my bruised hips against the metal edge of the sink in the nighttime swell. Then there are the occasional phronimid amphipods driving salps that are parasitizing gelatinous neighbors to motor their way through the depths undetected (give it a Google). What a joy to find one of those in a bucket around here. There is also the very real possibility of tripping over a Booby who has decided to land on the deck in the middle of the night with a squid in its beak. And after tossing the Booby overboard, we congregate for a work meeting at 1 am. And then there is the absurd that quietly fades into the profound, like the sky colors. Depending on the humidity in the air, the cloud formations, the latitude, the sunset colors blend and morph and reflect light I have never seen in the sky before. There is mint green and orange, cotton candy pink at the edge of clouds and a purple that can sooth any anxious soul. There the streams of light refracting into the indigo depths as the sun beats down. Living in such tight and complex community, where colleagues and students are friends and shipmates, brings lessons about boundaries, emotions, and care. Community like this is a blessing and a challenge to continue showing up as your best self, and asking for help when you cannot.
There is a dichotomy to life here. On one side the experience is incredibly condensed, intense and demanding and many times hard and uncomfortable. Yet here we are in a beautiful wilderness, with endless horizon. I have found that the trick is to live squarely inside both experiences, keeping up with the details to do my job well, and let the absurdity of it all feed my joy. Signing off, Greta Nelson, Deckhand, B-Watch PS: Much love to all back home! Miss you Nins, Mum, Dad, Jake and Lila.
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I agree with everything you said about the challenges of such an intense schedule in such complex and challenging conditions and yet I cannot help but envy you 🙂 wishing you and company the best