There is nothing quite like bobbing in the open ocean to make you feel like the unfortunate inhabitants of a toy ship being plunged through the water by a young god unaware of their subjects. I feel much like a rubber duck in a swimming pool during playtime. We are all looking forward to turning north in an effort to escape the ITCZ and its wonderous rain which has thoroughly soaked us all throughout yesterday’s morning watch. Although the direction of the waves did make for a roller coaster of a ride on the head rigging when the jib’s sail tie came loose on evening watch the day before. Science has slowed down while we sail through Kiribati waters bringing a welcome reprieve as we all reacclimate to the rocking and rolling once more.
The sunny days of Palmyra have been replaced with wind and clouds as we resume our normal watch schedule and sleepy eyed meals. I am looking forward to the return of the stars once the clouds clear. While the stars of New Mexico are rather astonishing, they are put to utter shame when compared with the darkness of the open ocean. Many of us are making use of the ships library of constellations. I, however, am still content to just marvel at the sky.
Can you find the crab? There were plenty of ghost crabs skittering over the beach. Their burrows ranged in size with the best males having a large pile of sand out front of their homes.
Washing machines are a thing of the past. The newest and greatest is ocean battered clothing. No drier necessary. A bonus if it rains. Which reminds me, rain runoff makes for a fantastic water conservative shower, and the tropics are not short on rain. We took full advantage of the ship’s awning in Palmyra to rinse the salt from our many snorkeling adventures.
This brings me to what has truly been on my mind the most since setting back out to sea. We eked out one last snorkeling trip before watching Palmyra fade from sight. As an avid scuba diver, I have constantly sought out the best places to see the underwater world. I have long wished to see the coral triangle for is massive biodiversity. While this is still a dream, Palmyra delivered in ways I never expected. We had one last surprise on our final snorkeling trip, coral stands of which the likeness I have never seen before. The sediment was carpeted in all sorts of corals. Many stretched longer than myself. The clear water hid nothing from view.
Although, I imagine the coral itself held many little critters within its fingers. It created a beautiful backdrop for a visit from a little black tipped reef shark. The excitement was evident on all our faces while we dried in the sun. Such an experience cannot be washed away in all the rain. It will follow us all the way home, and maybe even back to Palmyra someday.
Jenn Necker, C Watch, Eckerd College ‘21/University of Rhode island
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