The Drift (Nov 26)

So here we are in the middle of the ocean just drifting. The engine is humming with life but there is something wrong. We aren’t moving, and we haven’t moved now since last night. The crew are either hidden away getting much needed sleep or working on busy work tasks from the officers. They added an impressive set of arm rests and fashioned a cushion to the chair that the captain uses in the control booth for the fish deck. We’re just drifting, no alarm or urgency from the crew, the Engineer and his oiler have been working for 11 hours, and most likely will be working 13 or more hours too. So we drift. The ocean is calm, the chop of the swells has reduced down to almost non-existent; the surface is deep blue and smooth, almost like a lake. The sky is bright blue, and polka-dotted with white puffy, cotton ball clouds for as far as the eye can see; the kind of clouds that look really pretty and puffy and nice, but don’t do a damn thing for providing any sort of shade or protection from the sun. So we drift.

I can’t be sure but I think it is helping to smooth out the ride now that we have almost 600 tons of tuna in the fish holds. It is almost as if the heavier ship is now defiant against the ocean, and the floor remains more level, more of the time. One thing you can not beat out here is the heat, the sweat, the humidity. It is exactly 100% humid all the time, everywhere. It is especially more noticeable now that we are sitting still in the water with only a light breeze swirling around and not the normal 15 knots or more of wind to help cool things off – we’re baking in the sun. The air conditioners scream and struggle, and drip condensation into streams of flowing water as they battle the elements, the odds ever stacked against them. Walking past the a/c units on the way to the bridge is like walking past a row of fans, strapped to hot air blowers, hitting you in the face with burning air three times before you reach the door to get onto the bridge. The thin layer of sweat is in a state of perpetual permanence and plastered to your skin no matter what you do. Even now in the air conditioned room I’ve been assigned, I can feel the thin layer of sweat from the humidity.

It may also be from the hallway outside my room, the one that I just walked in order to get back into the safe and chilly confines of my quarters, away from the heat. The hallway that runs the length of the ship with two bend in it at the front and back of the boat; and is not air-conditioned. On a normal day the wind moving in over the bow and through the front hatch pushes the air in the hallway out the rear hatch and onto the fish deck, keeping the temperature fairly mild and the air fairly fresh. Not today – today we drift.

So you start to notice things, when you have nothing else to notice. For instance I feel a bit dumb for thinking that the light I have hanging next to my head was going out, because of how dim it was. I couldn’t believe that this single LED lamp could possibly have burned through 3 triple A batteries already. Then for some reason I decided to hold the power button down, and I can’t tell you why I did this because honestly I don’t know – but imagine my surprise and celebration when the lamp power increased to full brightness! I had forgot that this lamp, from REI, had a dimmer built into it.

I also think that if you, reader, are planning on coming out here and doing this job that you make damn sure that you have vitamins with you. I mean, go to the pharmacy and pick up 120 “one a day” type multivitamins and then take one a day. I think that I’m feeling a bit of lethargy because my body was so used to getting all the nutrients and vitamins it needed, and then some extra beyond those, that now the shock of immediate cold turkey cut off of “100% of my daily value” has left me a bit fatigued.

This too may explain why my beard is growing rather slowly; though I sort of blame that on the fact that I haven’t had a haircut in a long time and my hair is long and shabby looking now, and growing by the day, so maybe my full head of hair is draining the nutrients away from my beard.

See, when you’re in the drift – you start to notice weird things.

Lunch today however was very delicious. It always is when we have freshly caught tuna onboard. Today the chef prepared Sashimi, which means he gave us raw fish (kind of defeating the title of “cook”) and we devoured it and loved it, thanking him for the meal afterward as we walked out of the galley. I’m learning that there are many ways to prepare or eat sashimi. You have the traditional, Japanese style (which I love) where you get the fish, and then some wasabi and soy sauce, and you eat the fish. Today we were served Korean style sashimi, which is more like a sashimi salad. The fish is cut into thin strips and placed in a bowl with a ridiculous amount of raw yellow onion strips, cabbage, slices of cucumber, and some herbs. You then dollop a spoonful or two or five of raw sugar granules onto the salad and apply a liberal squirt of chili-vinegar sauce to the whole mix and stir it all up.

I sorted my onions off to the side where they would remain as I ate the rest of the meal. I love sashimi day

…whoa! That lurching feeling…that means the engine must be fixed! No longer in the drift!!!

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