How can it be that we have only two weeks left at sea? Dropping air temperatures as we edge southward away from the equator means swapping tropical wardrobes for wool socks and vintage sweaters. Yesterday, our first open ocean swim call came just when we needed it, on a serenely calm Sunday out on the South Pacific, post cinnamon roll breakfast and after a long week of hard work remembering we have loads of data to analyze, research papers to write and three weeks to do it all. For about twenty minutes, we happily launched ourselves off the tip of the bowsprit, in water over 3000 m deep. To some of us, goggles were our friends, as we peered below at our feet to test how far our eyes could see, trying to spot anything more than the usual turquoise. To others, the endless blue was not a comfort, but a weary unknown, a mystery of the life dwelling below.
Today, we completed the long-awaited pin chase, a race between the watches to name the individual lines and pins aboard the boat. There was yelling and cheering, smiles and looks of confusion. Is this the halyard or the jigger? Am I even on the right side of the boat? There was dignified crab walking on the deck for those of us that got a little too excited and ran to find the pins. Finally, there was conga line racing around the ship once each team completed their stack of pin chase cards. Elbows were thrown. Names were called. But in the end, only one team can win. Not all of us are meant to be winners except for C watch. Katharine, Hwan, Ruthie, and Callie (aka Haussie, Hunk, Jones, and C Ditty, #BrosOnDeck4L) are my witty, loving, and competitive C watch mates who continuously impress me with their talents and skills. See the blog photo for some smiles. Sometimes drastic shifts in your sleep schedule, from waking up at 0100 more often than normal, can ultimately throw off your digestive schedule. Naturally, our heads, a term for ship bathrooms, are decorated with some quality content, also known as educations, in case you're in for longer than anticipated. Around here, poop is common conversation for two reasons: you must turn the poop OFF prior to science deployments (excess nutrients in the water can really skew our data) and if you haven't personally pooped in a couple of days, it means it is time to talk to the med officer. Long story short, I discovered this poem Time by Cornelius Filibert, while sitting in the majestic portside bow head---the monarch's throne---with a beautiful ocean view. Time Long ago my Ancestors knew time They counted moons They watched sunrises No one needed hours Nor tiny little seconds Days were enough Shadows told time Time was on our side We were simple but We were free brown People of the blue sea Simple lives uncomplicated Then a new dawn came With the shipwreck Of a ship from the east Days of the pale race My fathers and mothers And theirs and theirs and theirs Life changed and time Time was theirs to control Now life revolves around A face with endless Circling hands and ticks Tocks become rules Now moons go unnoticed Sunrises sunsets unlearned Hearts beat to a new Time as was known to My people of brown Now unsung and Never untied A large part of the reason that I am in this program, as are many of my peers here, is because of my love for this planet and my commitment to sustainability for all living things. My mind is often occupied of thoughts about how disconnected modern society is from the planet's schedule and well-being. In most of America, we no longer follow the sunrises and the sunsets. Many people cannot name the phase of the moon in the sky. There is heating in the cold and air conditioning when it's too hot outside. We have created our own microclimates, in our cities, our towns and our homes. Our climate is changing, and yet it often feels that we continue to disconnect more from the natural world with increasing technology when we should really be reconnecting with it. We run on human time, not planet time. Perhaps, this dissociation of modern civilization, away from the natural world, has allowed us to comfortably whisk away resources and pollute, without pausing to evaluate the long-term impacts. Perhaps, we must remember the moons, the sunrises, and sunsets more often than we do, to remember the physical world we live in. That Earth is not intended for us to conquer but intended for us to thrive and flourish collectively and collaboratively through a variety of cultures and biodiversity of nature. Sometimes I feel we don't take enough time to appreciate the hard work of our planet to make life possible. Its complex and efficient system has taken millions of years to create. These thoughts are solidified in my mind the more that I am here. In lab, I stare at the most fascinating microscopic creatures, all different species of zooplankton. I wonder about their daily lives, their roles in the oceanic ecosystem and how we are changing their home. I love to watch the wildness of the waves crashing onto the hull during bow watch. Staring out at sea makes me forget about the more trivial things that would normally occupy my mind at home. I love that my phone time is nearing about 10 minutes this month. On a clear night, I can steer the helm by the stars. I feel in sync to environment around me. Technically, this blog was supposed to be about ocean circulation, but I was more interested in sharing this poem and my personal ramble/reflection. However, if you are dying to know about ocean circulation, I suggest going to a textbook available online called, ⌠Introduction to Ocean Sciences. written by Douglas A. Segar. Google it. Go to chapter 8. You'll learn more than you ever needed to know about ocean circulation. I like figure 8-2. I encourage you to reconnect with the environment around you. Go for a swim. Go for a walk. Go be outside. You're probably reading this blog because someone you care about is on this boat. We are a crazy bunch of people, each with a unique connection to the ocean. We were the dirt kids, the bug collectors, the ones finding mushrooms in the woods and asking our mom if we could eat them. We stay outside when it rains, go closer to the sharks, and stare at the stars. We never want to stop swimming. We seek experiences in remote environments because it keeps us on our toes, always learning and overcoming new challenges. Stay connected with us by staying connected to nature. I'll leave you with a quote from a book I am currently reading. The author, Hal Roth, sailed along part of the cruise track we are on now. It is a beautifully simple way to sum up living with the ocean: ⌠Not only is the sea unspoiled and without artificiality, there is a primeval quality, a purity surrounding its environment. Maybe you appreciate the sea because when you are lost upon its vastness your life is not jammed up with trivia, the meaningless detail & the foolish stuff of civilization. Somehow a fundamental strength a mysterious and independent energy seems to flow from the wild and undisciplined ocean. Perhaps on some level we recognize an affinity with the ultimate powerhouse of nature. Cheers, Grace Reference: The poem is sourced from ⌠Sea Change: An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean by Christina Gerhardt. The quote is from ⌠Two on a Big Ocean by Hal Roth. Shout outs: Mom, cannot wait to see you in New Zealand! 2 weeks, safe travels! Dad, miss and love you always. Bridge, Ali, and D: If you have any time to read this, I'm sure your college days are filled with loads of fun & love. Thinking of you all every day! Addie and Alyssa: Hey 1300 Bryan gals! Can't wait to see you when I am back in the states! Hope the new jobs/internships are amazing! Sending love.