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Latitude: 33° 48'N
Longitude: 62° 35'W
Wind Direction: SW
Wind Speed: 16 Knots
Sea State: 3
Sea Temperature: 74°F (23.3°C)
Swell(s) Height: 6 Foot
Barometric Pressure: 1023.5 MB
Oriental chunky chicken salad roll
Jamaican Jerk pork with Ire sauce
Boulangere potatoes (in rich beef stock)
Peas and carrots
New England red potato salad
Roast lamb leg with pan gravy
Baked halibut filet with remoulade sauce
Roasted red potatoes
Snow peas, cauliflower, carrots and leeks
Vanilla ice cream and homemade cookies
The right words
June 7, 2003
By Joe Appel
It's difficult to describe the feeling of
being on a ship for 3 weeks. Often the harder you search for
the right words, the farther you get from the feeling. A good,
if obvious, place to start is: It's unlike the feeling of being
on land. After that it gets more complicated.
But no matter what a person does on a ship - cook meals, fix electronics, conduct
scientific investigations - we all share the feeling of being here. In the past
couple of weeks I've overheard comments that - without trying - sum up that feeling,
in one way or another. The "without trying" part is important: usually you only
get at the truth when you come at it from a weird angle.
So here are a few of these comments, and a
little bit of how they've helped me understand what it's like
to be here.
First of all, at sea "normal" schedules go out the window. There's almost as
much going on in the middle of the night as there is in the middle of the day.
Especially for some of the most dedicated scientists, sleep becomes a secondary
concern. You lie down when you're done, and that's rare so you rarely lie down.
I mentioned to biologist Tim Shank one night at around 2 a.m. that I hadn't ever
seen him go off to sleep.
His response gives us our first quotation for this story: "It's a cruise, man.
Sleep when you get home."
Yeah, the scientists are weird. Especially when Alvin comes up from a
dive, they go nuts. Crowding around the sub's collection basket to see what came
up from the deep, nothing in that moment is more important than some bizarre
sea creatures, most of them dead.
The scientists have turned into obsessive creatures -- half-human and half--,
well, let's let Expedition Leader Pat Hickey fill in the blanks:
"Here they come, the scientists, doing their vulture impersonations."
My favorite moments on the ship are the quiet ones. Granted there aren't many
of these, but it's nice to take a few moments to stand in a corner of the deck
and watch the water. For more than a few of us, the best way to do this is while
holding a fishing rod.
Unfortunately, in this area of the North Atlantic, there aren't many fish. So
you stand there, lazily casting your line. You've pretty much given up hope of
catching anything. You hear that quiet. You take in how big it all is.
You watch the water. You watch the clouds. You watch the sun setting or the moon
rising or both. It's beautiful, precious.
Unless you don't get fishing. Then, like 2nd Mate P.J. Leonard, your perspective's
a little different and you come up with a comment like this:
"There's a fine line between fishing and standing there like an idiot."
The drama of the ocean is especially vibrant after a storm. You've survived the
queasy feeling in your stomach and the getting knocked around. You come out on
deck and the swells are still rising and falling. The clouds break up and the
sun pokes through them.
I was glued to this scene when I first witnessed it. But I'm a sea rookie. I
wondered if the guys who have done this for years remain as amazed by it all
as I am, so I asked oiler Mike Spruill.
He didn't even pause when he responded: "When the ocean gods are angry, it's
That, to me, pretty much said it all.
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