June 1st

We pushed back from the dock in Pusan at around 0200 and we are slowly moving through a heavy fog so there is nothing to see or talk about. Visibility is about 20 feet. The ship is stacked, the windows in my cabin that used to have a view to the bow and both port and starboard allowed me to peek over the containers. Not now, the containers are immediately outside my windows and stack as high as the house. This ship is plugged.

Last night we had roasted duck in orange sauce and mixed vegetables. I like duck. Why don’t we eat more duck in America? I enjoyed the cheese and a pear with a glass of wine to finish up.

We have new crew members and it will be interesting to see how they fold in, most of these guys have been together for months so I would imagine being a new guy could be challenging.

As we departed at 0200, most of the guys did not get to bed until 0400 or so. Breakfast was just me and one other French guy, a super nice black guy from some small West African nation. He is very bright and I enjoy our conversations when we have the opportunity. Today was croissants with raspberry jam and strawberry yogurt. I am getting to understand the pattern of breakfast, alternating days of oatmeal and cereals with croissants on two days of the week and Sunday. The French don’t like breakfast really, they prefer sweet things in the morning with coffee. The Ukrainians on the other hand consider breakfast their most important meal and grouse about no eggs or meats. I think they are discussing this and what the cost would be, they always talk about the cost. I would think they will be adding some menu options a couple days a week in the near future. As I sit alone at my table I notice the Ukrainian guys eat very quickly and then leave, no social time and no real conversation. They eat and run while the French guys show up later and eat after most the Ukrainian guys have left. They chat and laugh and really enjoy the time at the table. Mind you, these are all officers but it is clear the Ukrainians don’t like to hang around the mess hall. I like to sit and enjoy the time there.

Lunch came fast, I was out on the deck and arrived for lunch mid-way through. Avocado half with a cocktail sauce in the hollow, Steak with fries and a Magnum ice cream bar. One of those big chocolate coated things with almond slivers. On the subject of fries, or as they are universally labeled in the EU as Frites. Why do we call them French Fries? I mean they are like the staple of central Europe. You go anywhere and I mean anywhere in Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, Switzerland, Austria and you will have frites. The Dutch, oh man, they go gaga over them and they are good except the Dutch dip theirs in Mayonnaise, disgusting. I am wondering why we started calling them French Fries in the first place, the French seem to have no idea why we do this. I am sure there is an internet search but maybe someone can enlighten me? I also seem to think that most of the French don’t think eating frites with your hands is good table manners.

Up on the bridge I learned that our course will take us past the Aleutians. We are now in the Sea of Japan between Japan and Korea/Russia, we will come around the northern end of Japan and draw a vector for Seattle. This vector will be the shortest route to our destination. Now keep in mind that we are on the sea and follow the curvature of the earth. This is hard for some people to grasp, that and that we are covering nautical miles as well. When I asked if our heading took us past the islands, I was given the “of course” response which I have learned is just the way French reply when they agree with your position or when you are correct; it is not meant to be a wisecrack. So, we will get a “small pass” of some of the islands……with my luck it will be in the dark.

That slow process of picking up hours is happening. We gained one yesterday and we will gain an hour almost every day until we arrive in Seattle. They posted a chart of the time change date, time and location for each day until the end of our voyage. This is necessary because all the ship schedules adjust for the current time; watches, duty, meals, etc. You just lose your sleep or your time off, an hour every day. That would stink, wouldn’t it?

At 1400, the visibility has improved to about 100 feet, still foggy and no sun. It could be like this for days.

At 1700, we found a bit of stormy weather (I just reminded myself of Carl Hiassen, love that guy). The sea was not rough but we had a really intense rainfall complete with lightening and very loud thunder claps. With the overcast and cloudy weather the lightening just made the sky illuminate. The thunder was impressive and it was the first bout of real weather we have had in nine days. On the ocean that is a big number since nothing remains the same for long. The weather was enough to block our satellite signal for the wi-fi for a bit, not sure how long.

I was going to go walk to the bow and the stern but that will have to wait until tomorrow or until we get a clear day, so it looks like my afternoon will be reading and sitting around. I am no good at sitting, I never really have been. I have a hard time thinking about all the other things I could be doing.

I already know what it for dinner. It was on the lunch menu when they informed us about the time change. Soup, salad and seafood bouillabaisse. Fitting for a stormy afternoon I suppose.

I will visit the library again and see what I can dig up, I will spend the time after dinner reading in bed and listening to some music, I love my Jambox! Thank you Dianna, Jenna and Carson for understanding me.

 

June 2nd

Gaining the time back is just plain weird out here. I knew it would be because I mentioned that when you fly back from Asia, you travel for like 20 hours and still get home before you left. It kind of makes up for losing the day when fly to Asia.

Out here we get it an hour a day. To standardize things a bit, we set the clock movement for 1400. Each day at 1400 it becomes 1500. Since my only clock is my iPhone and it is not in service out here, I scan the phone for time zones that may match. Weird. Every day it is like losing an hour of sleep, I mean when I go to bed at 2200 I can either think it is 2300 or I can think that I will wake up at 0500 instead of 0600. Any way I deal with it this is a big change to what I am used to. I guess the upside is I should not have any jet lag when I return home?

This morning it is still grey and windy now. The weather is turning as we head north and then due east. The Chief Officer told me in a couple of days from here they expect some high seas and rougher weather. I think I will like that because this ship is so big and so heavy that it just pushes through the water with ease. Up to this point it kind of feels like taking a ferry, the slightest movement from port to starboard and a constant push forward. If you have spent any time on a ship you can tell how heavy they are and this one is very heavy. I guess it is kind of like driving in a semi down a long open highway.

I had coffee and juice for breakfast as I just was not interested in corn flakes and baguettes. They do eat bread with every sitting and the baguettes are made fresh every morning. I know much more than I did before this trip that bread, cheese and wine are very important to the French. However, a couple pieces of toast or a bagel sure would be nice. What is that line? “Not a chance”. I think the French consider a loaf of sliced bread as a complete waste of time. Thinking about it, it has been 9 days and I have not seen a sandwich. Consider that. Could you stay anywhere in America for 9 days and not have a sandwich option at some point? Baguettes do not make for good sandwiches I guess. Not that I can eat a sandwich like it should be eaten, I would have to cut it into little pieces anyway. Sheesh.

We are approaching the island of Hokkaido of Japan, the northern most island. We will be traveling through a strait between this island and the island of Honshu, I believe. This strait allows us to avoid traveling all the way around Hokkaido. As we pass through the strait I will request permission to be out on the main deck, I would like to walk up to the bow and look around. Wind is blowing about 20 knots and the seas are 6-8 feet right now. I expect the wind to remain through the strait but the seas to be much less than current conditions. This will be the last land we see until we approach the Aleutian Islands, where we will pass through another strait and then set course for Seattle from there. There is a call for 9-12 foot seas between here and the Aleutian’s so we have modified course a little to stay out of a low-pressure cell that is causing that little disturbance.

1300, the wind has increased to 25-30 knots, seas holding 6-8 foot swells, I feel like I am on the ocean. Smiling. It is also interesting to hear the containers creak and scrape as we roll in this, they creak and moan like the sounds you hear in the movies of old wooden ships. I like it. Remember that they are stacked 8 high above deck. There is a lot of metal on this ship. The lower two rows of the containers are fastened with turnbuckles to the hull and the deck so the remaining containers are simply sitting on the corner blocks sliding the smallest amount which creates the sound of creaking and movement. You can watch the upper containers sway about 1-2 inches as we pitch. Very neat to see.

The wind increased through the strait here in Japan, blowing 40 knots and too windy to walk around the boat for me. There is quite a bit of spray and the weather is snotty. I am disappointed but have 9 days to get my walk in. I will stay close to the house and take pictures from the higher deck where I can stay out of the weather a bit. It is now 1700 and at least I have some land to see and Japanese fishing boats nearby. The water here is significantly better than it was on the coast of China and Korea, cold currents and open ocean all around probably make a big difference. The fisherman I see are trawlers and they are headed back to port.

June 3rd

I awoke to the cold. Last night I put on some flannel before I went to bed, we have been on a North by Northeast heading since leaving Japan. We are headed up to the tip of the Aleutian chain, which is quite long but very far north. The weather continued to be cold, windy and misty rain all night. The temperature is cold, mid 40’s this morning. I am glad I don’t have deck work as a crewman. It is just plain nasty outside, it reminds me of January back on my mountain. The wind is out of the North, I would say Arctic and the entire ship lists to the starboard side in this wind. The ship is like a massive wind block, imagine 1100 feet long and now 150 feet high and solid. The wind just pushes against the entire ship and makes us lean with it. I had to re-arrange some of my things on the desk and in the bathroom to compensate for the leaning. The shower drain is of course, on the port side so after my morning shower I had to cup the water to the drain since the ship was leaning the other way.

There is a small, very small heater in the bathroom of my cabin. When I boarded, I shut it off since we were in the heat and humidity of southern China. This morning I turned it back on and left the door open in an attempt to warm the cabin although I think that is wishful thinking. I put on a long sleeve T shirt and then a flannel. I think it will be like this for the next week.

Today we will have a safety drill. I have no idea what that means other than I go to the bridge and join in. That should be interesting.

After breakfast, which included oatmeal thank god, I went down to the ships office on the main deck. This is Deck “A”. I am in a cabin on Deck “F”. The gauge in the ships office says we are at 5 degrees of lean. Of course, as you go up to Deck F, which is a good 70 feet above Deck A that angle is more, not sure how much more but the vessel can safely handle 25-30 degrees at Deck A level, which is the main deck. So, we will see what happens when we hit some higher seas. Right now, the seas are about 8 feet with a wind that is blowing 40 knots and it is cold. When I went down to breakfast all the guys were wearing hoodies and cupping their coffee to keep their hands warm, I guess their cabins are cold too.

At 0915 I am supposed to go to the Captains office to approve my debts. This would be for the internet credit and the store purchases. They put it in an interesting language; “you are invited to sign your debts in the Captains office at 0915”. I guess this is a form of bookkeeping so you cannot dispute your balance at the end of the voyage, which is when your debts must be paid and cleared. I do not think they will open the store again so this may be a way to settle that inventory and account. I just find it a little odd that the Captain has to monitor this kind of issue, I guess his ass in on the line for the money so he wants to be responsible for it. Some of the guys have hefty tabs. When I went up at 0915 the Captain told me that I was not to be included in the sign off, only for crew members. They have the balance of their debt deducted from their pay, I will pay in cash at the end of the voyage.

The Captain also invited me to come to the Officers lounge tomorrow at 1145 and have a drink, then join the officers at their table for lunch. As I have noted, lunch is the big meal. I wonder how they manage that in France, do they take long lunch breaks? I would like to know about this. I know that in Asia we take an hour, the first half hour is spent eating and the second half hour is spent sleeping. You NEVER call anyone during lunch hour in Asia. Do the French take an hour lunch? A two-hour lunch?

An hour lunch back home even seems short sometimes, if you go out to eat and with the lunch rush it is rarely enjoyable, just eat and run or grab and go. If lunch is such a big deal in France how do the lunch spots handle it? I think of these things. I probably have better things to think about but this kind of thing interests me, should I go back to France I want to have a better understanding. I mean, we as Americans think of French food as world class dining, funny that they pay more attention to lunch.

The weather continues to worsen, I went to see the Chief Officer, a really nice guy named Benoit. He told me that there is a small cyclone a couple hundred miles in front of us and that we will be enduring this weather for the next two days. It is very windy, very cold and we have an angry ocean. I don’t mind it but the chill in the cabin will require an additional blanket tonight to be sure.

They postponed the safety drill. No one wants to go outside unless they absolutely must. At least the oilers and the engine room engineers can stay warm inside the engine room. There are a couple of guys out on deck grinding and repairing something, poor buggers.

Lunch was a salad, veal with mushrooms and mashed potatoes; the instant type. I wonder about veal also. I have never bought or prepared veal, I don’t think I have ever even ordered it intentionally. I just have these memories of hearing my Mom tell me they raise these baby cows in stalls and they never even walk freely, they are held in a stall until they are killed. I have no idea how long a baby cow lives until it is not considered veal? They are raised to be slaughtered, I get that but something about a baby cow being taken for food just rubs me wrong. Veal has never been on my radar.

I finished a Michael Connelly novel. Somewhat standard fare but I like that he has some street cred in his novels. I am looking for a different type of book in the library, I don’t have much patience for formulaic novels any longer. This one was called Void Moon; my Mom will want to know.

I think I will venture outside despite the cold, windy, wet weather. I need to be out there and feel it. I will bundle up and take a look……….as a side note, it looks like we get two Sundays. As we pass the International Date Line it will take us that long to travel through it, so I think we actually do Sunday twice, the weird just gets weirder with the time.

June 4th

Last night I had a nice dinner of a salad, chicken cordon bleu and steamed peas. I finished with the cheese and fruit. Swiss, Brie and a sharp goat cheese with a mango. I was tired without reason and went to the cabin and put myself in bed to read. It was warm under the additional blanket and the HVAC system here is now putting out heat instead of cold air. It really is amazing that this ship has a house on it. When you look at the ship, the house (or as the French call is “the accommodation” and the Engineers call it “the superstructure”) it looks small but it is very large and has 35 cabins, a swimming pool, a gym, a library, three lounges and the mess hall. It really is a house.

This morning I was dizzy and felt unusually weak. I had some coffee and a croissant. The healing of the mouth seems ok but the gum line has receded and I am sure there is more surgical work to be done before we can even think about the possibility of a bone graft. I hate having these problems with my mouth, it has been an ongoing issue for me for quite a while. Deal with it. Not sure why I feel light headed but I think it is just too much time in the interior of the house and not enough air. I will go outside and breath deep. It is still cold and windy, less than yesterday but still lousy conditions with visibility of about a mile with fog and mist. I guess this is Alaska weather?

It is odd that we do not change the time today, we do Sunday again tomorrow (I think of the movie Groundhog Day where the day remains the same). We will change the time tomorrow for another hour. The body has a hard time with these small hourly time changes. Add to that our position in the far North where there really is no darkness to speak of and it is really difficult to adjust your body clock. The sun never really sets, it does get dark but not like night and then only for about 3 hours. At midnight, it is the same brightness as it is at noon. I say brightness because we have not seen sun for days and it may be another couple of days before we do.

Today I have been invited to the Officers Table for lunch and a stop by the lounge prior to lunch for a drink. This is a Sunday special invitation and I think it happens for me once on the voyage. I really am not feeling normal and not sharp and would have much rather been 100% for this special invitation. I have been traveling now for 17 days and I guess there will be days when you don’t feel like yourself. The reality is that I have not felt “normal” for the better part of this trip and that I will have some regret over. An old woman, somewhere near 90 once told me that “getting old is not for sissies”. I think she had some wisdom.

I went the Officers Lounge today at 1145, wow. Nice place, big screen TV, PlayStation, Wi, nice sound system and a full bar. Decorated in Asian theme, very nice. We then went to lunch and I was able to discuss and have nice conversation. I learned that lunch is 2 hours in France. Check.

We had prawns in curry sauce, steak in caper crème sauce, frites and the Magnum ice cream bar. The Captain pulled a nice bottle of wine from the store, an Australian Shiraz and we had a nice Sunday meal. I am going to take a nap. Too much food for lunch.

I went out on the deck and chilled myself sufficiently, it is still cold and windy. We just passed the Kamchatka peninsula of Russia and have set course for the Aleutian Islands, where we slide through a strait and then on to Seattle. We still have 7 days to arrive. I am sure the weather will be cold and windy all the way, I just hope we get some better visibility when we go past the islands.

 

While out on the deck today I spotted some whales, I did not take a photo because they were about 200 yards from the ship and they were just cruising along. No flukes or backs exposed, just blasts of spray as they came to the surface. I could not identify the species but they were not very big, as whales go. Not much but I have only seen some solitary birds the last couple of days and seeing some life was super cool today. There are some small birds that land on the ship and go directly under the desk lights to scavenge any dead insects and moths that perished the night prior. Seeing the whales today excites me for the island that are ahead.

Tonight, we will have a quiche appetizer (which I really enjoy), salmon with a butter sauce and rice. I am not too good at French and there is something different about the rice, not just white rice but I don’t understand the menu. At lunch, we get a menu with lunch and dinner for the day and notes that we need to be aware of. I took some photos to share when I return. It is all in French. Why couldn’t it have been in Spanish? You grow up in SoCal, you take Spanish in school. Dianna took French in school. Maybe she can read the menus for me when I come home. What good is French in SoCal? I think all kids today should learn Mandarin, this is going to be the next global language, Chinese will be the language for the younger ones to know. Not French. Probably not Spanish.

I am now sitting in the lounge, charging my computer and drinking a Coke out of a coffee cup. I am actually hopelessly addicted to drinking from a straw when I drink from a can, despite everything that is said about how bad it is for you. However, straws failed to make my list when packing so drinking from a coffee cup is still far better than a cold can on my lips, I have never liked that. I always think to myself, “you never know where that can has been”. I think the only thing I don’t mind drinking from a can is a cold beer.

I really have not felt great all day today, the surgery sutures are coming loose a bit and tugging at the inside of my gums. Things actually look pretty good in there but hell, I have no idea what I am looking at, it still looks like something left on a plate after a barbeque. I am sure my periodontist will be interested to see what went on in there for the last month. I actually have a tooth that is causing me grief in the back of my mouth on the same side. My ear aches and I have this popping sound in my jaw. This happened to me once before and I ended up in the root canal chair with a nasty infection. Like I said, I have a high tolerance to pain and so when I do become aware it is usually a lousy outcome and an expensive trip to the root canal man, who knows me by name. Crap. I am taking some ibuprofen but like everything else when you are hurt, this really only bothers me when I try to go to sleep. Why is that? Your still, there is quiet, the bed is comfortable. This seems to be when the aches and pains decide to come raging up to the surface. I have a couple of those kick ass pain pills I received after the surgery, the Norco tablets but I am saving those just in case the pain worsens. I still have a week to go.

I spent some time with the Chief Engineer today after lunch, he asked me probing questions about boats I spent time on and how the engine room work, the steering gear, the fuel systems, the reduction gears and other things in the engine room. He seemed very surprised that I had a pretty firm grasp on all this mechanical talk and then invited me to visit the engine room on this monster. Inside I was jumping up and down. We have a visit for Wednesday in the afternoon. The scale of the engine room is enormous I am sure. I know they have 2 oilers, these are the boys whose job it is to make sure the engines, the outputs, the entire system is constantly maintained with oil and lubricants.

 

Since most of the machinery here really never gets shut down, keeping it lubricated and replacing what has been burned off is very important. For these systems, there is a series of alarms that either tell the oilers to monitor or act depending on the alarm code. I will be very interested to see all this and learn something about how you push an 1100-foot ship loaded to capacity through the water.

I see ships just like this heading the other direction from time to time and I wonder just how many container ships there are? This industry has forever changed the world and how we think of things made somewhere other than home. Imported used to be a big deal, it seems in today’s world it is the other way around. Now local is a big deal. When people think of imported now, it usually means cheaper. I can remember as a kid, heck as a teenager that imported always meant more expensive. I think today’s generation just assumes most things are imported.

I kind of like the fact that I am on a container ship and in simple terms, now I am imported too. I am human cargo among all the other cargo aboard.

June 5th

I woke up to see the sunrise but it really was more of a “brightening” because the sun never really set. The weather is much improved today, winds down to 10-15 knots and the seas are 4-6 feet. There is improved visibility and the horizon actually looks like the horizon rather than disappearing into the fog as has been the last few days. There are small blue patches in the sky but for the most part it is overcast and grey in the sky. The water up here is a deep green, not blue like we have back home. I think it is the temperature? Perhaps as we approach some of the islands the water will change and look like it is full of life. For the most part, this is a desert out here. I did see those whales yesterday but there is no bird life to speak of and none of the familiar porpoise that I am so accustomed to back home. This really is a much different offshore experience than I have become so familiar with. When we head offshore back home I know what to expect, where to expect it, when to start being on the look-out. Here there is none of the familiar sights. No kelps, no temperature breaks, no birds. Just open expanse.

This is the “ride it out” part of the voyage, across the Pacific in the vastness of nothing. There is a time like this on every long voyage I have ever done, the area where you are just getting through it on your way to someplace. The ocean is a remarkable place and those who have not been out in the vastness of it really have little idea of its scale and size. I know that in the next few days it will change entirely and there will be new sights to see, much like driving through the desert and suddenly reaching the mountains. This is the part where you can’t find anything on the radio and you put the windows down to let the warm air rush in, the part where you just kill time and wonder what will break the cycle.

The morning was uneventful, too cold to be outside for more than 30 minutes at a time and I am pretty much isolated to the starboard side since the wind on the port side is just howling. The kind of cold wind that just makes jeans seem like a poor choice. I did bring my boat jacket and a flannel plus some sweaters so I am fine out there but with no life to look at the scenery is pretty dull. You can only look at swells, wind waves and choppy water on the horizon for so long.

Today it is Sunday all over again, which in itself is freaky. We will move the clocks forward another hour today at 1400 and the good thing about that is that it means we are getting closer to home. I had oatmeal and yogurt for breakfast, I had one cup of coffee today. I don’t like the way the coffee has been amping me up in the morning so I am backing off. Same thing with the Cokes, I love them and missed them, then I bought 24 in the ship store. I was rationing 2 per day until the end of the voyage. I have not used my ration, with 7 days to go I still have 18 Cokes left. I think drinking all that water just changed my desire a bit. Dianna will like that.

I struggled with lunch, my sutures have begun falling out and where they are still attached is sore and sensitive, I would have thought after a month it would not be an issue but it is. We had hard boiled eggs, halved with curry mayonnaise and tuna over the top, beef in gravy with penne pasta. No desert today. I guess only one Sunday a week is special.

Our safety drill is on at 1400 and because we change the clocks today at 1400, that means it is really 1500. I go to the bridge and we do safety drills. How to get off the ship, where to go, what my job is and that sort of thing. Interesting that the language of communication is English, which is the native language of NO ONE except me. I don’t expect all the commands to be easily understood. It is interesting to hear the Ukrainian guys speak with a Russian accent and the French with a French accent. Some accents are much more pronounced than others, I can only imagine what I sound like to a Mexican when I stumble through my Spanish?

The weather is acting up again here at 1330, the wind is blowing about 30 knots again and now it has begun raining. I had thought we were beyond the depression we were running from but it looks like this may be an edge of it and we are in for a long rainy and windy afternoon. Should make the safety seminar pretty interesting, huh?

Well the safety drill was a downer for me, as a passenger I was instructed to go to the bridge. I am to wait there until someone tells me otherwise or instructs me on what to do. The rest of the crew had a fire drill, they were simulating a fire on the deck inside a hazardous material container, in this instance a container loaded with lithium Ion batteries. I had to stay up on the bridge while all the excitement of a fire drill was going on. Shoot.

They then ran an abandon ship drill and so I went down to the A deck as the drill requires. The entire crew assembled in the ships office and then when everyone was accounted for, they started reviewing the fire drill. I was promptly dismissed. I don’t think the Captain wanted me to witness a butt chewing of the crew, no sense in that. His comment was “after the drill there is a 90% chance we burned the ship”, “Mr. Hess, you are dismissed to your cabin”. I guess fire drills are the same everywhere in the world. I also guess the boss here is like some bosses I had. I hated those guys.

I went back outside to get the wind in my face. OK, remind me if I do this sort of thing again to take voyage SOUTH. It is awful out there. Like being in a winter storm with rain instead of snow, if it was snowing it would be a white out. Actually, this would be an awesome trip in the Caribbean or South America where you could go ashore often. The cabins are awesome, the food is great, there is internet. If you sailed for a day or two, then stopped and went ashore it would be a great trip. I think they have a Caribbean route and a South American route. I wanted to sail across the Pacific Ocean but if you wanted a super relaxing trip that felt private and had great accommodation, I suggest this as an option. Really.

Today is where I feel like going home would be great. I get like this even on an 8 day fishing trip, I miss home, it is slow, the time passes, I miss my girl. Today is that day.

June 6th

Last night I went to dinner planning on just soup and bread. I saw the entrée and did that, glad I did. The soup was a crème vegetable soup, entrée of smoked ham with a side of Brussel sprouts! My favorite. They were not the way I most prefer them but they were a treat none the less.

This morning they put out cookies for the French and eggs with bacon for the Ukrainians, I just had coffee, juice and yogurt. I do not have a big appetite as I have not been burning calories other than going up and down 5 flights of stairs all day. I did take some cookies back to the cabin for that 1030 snack. It usually takes me that long to come down from the coffee and feel hungry.

We have officially come around to the same day as back home. I am only four hours BEHIND you now. It is 0800 here and 1200 back home, communication will be much easier now on the email I think. I just kept the days as sequential and did not repeat Sunday as part one and part two, so I will end up a day ahead of myself on these entries but it is too late now to repeat a date I think. I will think about that.

We are approaching the Aleutians and we will be offshore of them for at least another day I think. Yesterday we passed the Kamchatka peninsula and were within 150 miles of the coast. Weather this morning is still cold and grey but like yesterday morning, the visibility is good and the horizon is the horizon, no fog or clouds on the water. This is still the desert. We are getting close to the Bering Sea and that means in a way I will have crossed the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea in one voyage. Neat.

I spent some time with the Chief Officer this morning going over our position and heading. We are about 40 hours from passing through a strait in the islands, this is good. It means it will be about 4 or 5 in the morning as we approach so I will have good light. We pass very near to some islands and I am looking forward to seeing not only the sea life but also the commercial vessels and fisherman in this area. At this time of year there is good fishing to be had so I am sure there will be activity. In the meantime, we will spend the next 40 hours in the Bearing Sea headed east.

There is activity out on deck today as the boys are pressure washing the decks and all the areas outside the house, this is part of the housekeeping of a big ship. Keeping the salt spray off the surfaces after the wind we have had pays big dividends in maintenance and the puddling of water in the drains is never good.

I really just have the next day and a half to kill until I can be a sightseer, which will be welcome. I only hope the weather warms a bit, I was looking at home and it has been 90 degrees. Living at elevation like we do 90 feels like 110, I can only empathize with my wife and son as they endure a heat wave in early June. I hope the evenings have been cooling so the open windows bring relief. We do not have an air conditioner in our mountain home and last summer there were a few weeks we wish we did. One of our neighbors has a sleeping porch they use in the summer because they do not have A/C either and the house just becomes too hot to sleep in. I think we may try a similar type experience this summer. We do have a portable air conditioner but it really only keeps one room cool and it is an energy hog. I hope this is not going to be a long, hot summer. The temperature swings have been so extreme already, with snow in May and now 90’s in June. The hot weather always comes in August but it seems so unpredictable; climate change, cyclical change, whatever you call it, using the past years as an indicator of weather moving forward is not realistic any longer. The change is so different that the past means nothing.

This is bit frightening. It is not just our little place in the world, this is a global issue. Then I read that nimrod Trump exits the Paris Environmental Agreement, basically sticking the finger to the world. I am so discouraged to be led by this fool of a man. Our country will become a third world nation under his stewardship, I cannot call it leadership. I think the country is headed down a lonely, dark and long tunnel with this administration. I cannot say that Obama was a great President but I can say I admire that he was honest, fair and genuinely cared about doing the right thing. I can say none of those things about this childlike Trump. How does a man live to be 70 years old and still be so ignorant, insensitive and selfish? How did this happen to us? Maybe you need to be a laid off auto worker, who worked a union job with an outrageous salary and benefits package you lost to competition to understand? I can find no understanding that a working man or woman would ever have supported such a change as to choose this idiot of a man running our government. The desire to change the status quo was so high in those who did that they were oblivious to the impending disaster it would create.

Today I feel really good, I am over the anxieties of the mouth, now it will be what it will be. I am enjoying my time on the ship today, it is still cold outside, in the mid 50’s but the wind is down and being outside feels good. The chill on my face and the long views are a nice way to spend time. There is a small picnic table on one of the lower decks where they have outdoor BBQ when the weather is nice so I have a place to sit somewhat sheltered and just gaze. Today is a good day on the ocean.

I had a nice lunch; hearts of palm and cucumbers in a mayonnaise tarragon sauce, roast chicken and ratatouille, which is something I think I will learn how to make. It has vegetables I am not really fond of but somehow in this preparation they are delicious. I think Dianna would like me to make more squash so maybe this would make us both happy. Desert was a prune cake, interesting for sure but I ate the whole slice.

Dinner is going to be Filet Mignon, that sounds French. I am going to nap today and then read a little. The weather is cold but the water is smooth and ride is very pleasant. I saw a couple container ships headed to Japan and it does seem odd to be in the middle of nowhere and see ships pass within a quarter mile of you. I think it has something to do with shipping lanes, can’t just have ships running around all wily nily, can you?

June 6th (…Again)

I decided to do Groundhog Day today, it just makes sense to get back on the same day. I actually should have done it Sunday but the novelty of having the same day twice was more important at the time.

For dinner, either the menu was a mess up, or Filet Mignon in French means Pork Tenderloin because that is what is was. Not sure. However, the appetizer has been photographed for my use, I will learn this recipe. Basically, a pastry dough, topped with mozzarella and thin ham with onion, baked to a toasty crust. I think I can easily make this as a dish at home. It was the highlight.

I woke up at 0530 to see the sunrise. Again, we are overcast but the sea is very calm today and the wind is light at 15 knots. We will make good speed today I think. There are more birds each day as we approach the islands but still no life to speak of. The birds are small groups and they are not working or feeding. I will spend some time today at my picnic table and do some laundry. Good Morning.

I am having trouble getting to sleep, the hour changes and the light sky make it tough. I tossed and tried to force myself to sleep but still could not nod off until close to midnight. I will end up taking a nap today but I want to resist that so I do not repeat last night. 0530 comes early when you don’t get to sleep until the small hours. I am not the only one, breakfast was empty except for one other. When you are working, and have to go through this time movement sleep becomes very valuable. Generally, when you work on a boat with watch time and work time, sleep is the one thing you don’t get enough of and it is caught in short periods. Now the crew is always either working or sleeping, there is no lounge time.

I am very dizzy again this morning, I think I have a fever from the tooth thing. I am still taking antibiotics but they don’t seem to be doing much any longer. I am lightheaded and queasy. I am going to go a day or two without coffee, it will be difficult for me to wake up but I find a correlation to the coffee and the dizziness. I am drinking a lot of water trying to flush whatever is in me out of me.

Out on deck it is still very cold, 50’s I would guess but it is clear and sunny, the clouds have burned off and the sea is just beautiful to look at. Vacant and rather desolate but delivering on the “big blue” experience I imagined. Would like the temperature to warm so I can be outside for longer periods though, outside chills you because the wind does not allow finding a warm sunny spot. I have a nice window sun spot in my cabin which if I were home, a cat would find attractive. I miss my cats too. I wonder how our big cat is adjusting to the leg amputation after a couple weeks, the vet said they are amazing and get right with the program but I would like to see him. Our little cat is wary of the change I have been told, they have been the best of pals for five years and need one another, I hope they come to terms.

It is 1100 and I am feeling a bit more normal, still lightheaded but not dizzy like this morning. I had a rough morning. I stayed out of the bunk because I really don’t like waking up twice in the same day and waking up this morning was rough. I will probably crash after lunch; not sure I want to eat much. I have been through 2 liters of water and it seems to help. If I was at home I would be on the bed complaining, Dianna always takes care of me when I feel lousy, she always has. I did good.

I did not eat much for lunch, I had an apple and some wok cooked vegetables along with an egg custard with a huge amount of sugar in the bottom. It was sweet but went down easily. I am still not 100% ad will probably end up falling asleep even though I don’t want to. My eyes tell me I will end up with them closed.

Up on the bridge this afternoon, I went to take a look, the weather is wonderful. Flat, blue seas and sunny skies. I did not take my camera, dang it. I saw a nice pod of Orca, about a dozen. Crashing and moving along the surface. This was a treat. I did not know what they were at first in the distance but I could see breakers and they were unusual for porpoise like we have back home, as we approached they swam just off the port side and gave me a nice look. Very cool. They were on the hunt. Next time I take the camera.

Like I thought, we will pass the strait at about midnight, dang. I will get up anyway to take a look. We will be close enough to see some harbors and some activity and it may still be light enough to see some life.

They are going to open the ship store again tonight at 1815 before dinner. I don’t think I will buy anything. There are guys who want scotch and whiskey, it is really cheap and there is some drinking going on. I am not a drinker. I still have 14 Cokes so buying more doesn’t make any sense. The only other thing they have that interests me would be chocolate but with my mouth the way it is I think it best to avoid chocolate. Although it they had Oreos I would go there, I do miss my dunking of the Oreos after dinner. Can you tell I am bit homesick?