Of the Air and Sea
May 1, 2023
Carla Szeplaki, B Watch, Deckhand
07° 3.5’ N, 149° 25.0’ W
2161 nautical miles
Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Sailing under the four lowers with a shallow reef in the mains’l on a starboard tack. Winds NxE Force 5. Seas NNE 5-7 ft.
Description of location
Central Pacific Ocean
Lately I’ve found myself scanning the sea more often for one of my favorite wildlife sightings out here: flying fish. Today, B-watch had the deck in the morning from 0700-1300, and it felt like every 20 minutes you could glance at the rolling swells near the ship and spot them. Countless times at lookout and occasionally at the helm, I saw the silvery blue torpedoes jump and soar low over the waves, glistening in the sun. Sometimes just a couple of them about 6 inches long, or a whole school of about 10 little 1-2 inch babies catching the wind under their fins, and splooshing back under the surface. My excitement increases the further they glide away: 5 feet, 10 feet (still going!), woah 15 feet!To add to the excitement, brown and masked boobies have been escorting our ship for a while now, and I always get a thrill at watching them spot a flying fish, then tuck their wings into a steep dive and plunge into the side of a wave after them. Sometimes a successful catch, sometimes not. We’ve also enjoyed the flying fish’s presence on deck a few times over the past couple of nights. One of them colliding mid-air with a mate towards the end of a turnover! The ocean’s surface itself has also gone through a change in mood. Sailing near and in the ITCZ recently, we’ve had seas 5-7, sometimes 8 feet with strong winds around force 5 for a few days now. The high seas can make it challenging to sleep at night, to walk in a straight line without ping-ponging off the bulkheads (which I’ve been doing a lot of lately), or to do literally anything below decks or in the lab. But today at 1600 for class, Captain Allison led a creative lesson on describing the sea with the Beaufort scale poetry, followed by a cloud drawing and painting session as the sun lowered to the horizon. I found myself staring mesmerized at the rhythmic wells, and realized that I had been drawn to this interface between the sky and sea more than usual today. It was a source of inspiration and comfort for me. As sailors we have a history and habit of keeping an eye on this plane of intertwining elements, but today I found a renewed appreciation for the beauty in our surroundings out here in the middle of the Pacific. Endless water, and endless sky- nothing else like it.
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