Day 17, Sunday, June 10, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,
It seems the weather front has stalled over the southeast. It rained in Pensacola for 7 hours and I guess it is over Georgia today. Now, that Georgia has the rain it needs, we would appreciate it if you could all get together and blow really hard and move that front out because today the seas were worse and we have had our fill. When we left Pensacola, the forecast was for calm flat seas this weekend…
It’s quite an adventure to sleep in such rough seas (10-15 foot swells). Most of the crew sleeping on starboard hopes for swells that lean the boat to starboard and for almost all day yesterday, it was. You see their bunks are on the starboard side so it means the leaning is forcing them into the side of the boat and not into thin air in the middle of the room. The alternative experience is for those on the port side. When the lean is to the starboard side they are being pushed into thin air so they hope for a lean to port so they can cozy up to the wall.
My bunk is on the starboard side so you’d think it’d be simple – give me a starboard lean. But, I have a second person in my bunk and it changes the game entirely. You see Sandy sleeps on the starboard side of my bunk and so when its wavy, my rolling about crushes her. She’s also the cook and as we learned yesterday, you gotta keep the cook in good stead.
Our bunk is essentially a small full sized bed. On a normal night Sandy is constantly pushing me closer and closer to the edge. Knees and hands pushing on my side. If I sleep on my side and she captures 3/4 of the bed – all is good. I do my part and try to sleep on my side.
But, tonight, with a large starboard lean, this effort was going to be a herculean task. My body was already tired from the daylong starboard lean and the effort to keep from falling over every few minutes. The problem is that to keep yourself stable in these conditions, you need to lower your center of gravity. That means lying flat. Every time I tried my side- wham! I was pushed full force against the starboard wall, crushing Sandy. So I went with flat. Sandy was being forced into the corner anyway so to her the bed was much bigger.
Now the challenge was to stop being hurled into Sandy cause I am a lot bigger than her and we don’t want the cook to become a pancake. I asked if she wanted to switch sides and was told “Nope”. “Odd” I thought. So I lay there with my hands pressing on the headboard wall and my feet on the footboard wall, limiting the ability of the wind and wave to only pushing me sideways a bit. They did. I slid. Then I’d reset. Hour after hour after hour. I knew I would not sleep much, but if I could just get still for a bit, maybe I could catch a little sleep.
It was not to be. Finally, with my shoulders, knees and ankles aching from working so hard and long to keep my still, I had to give up. “Sorry” I said to Sandy and I let go. The boat rolled me up against Sandy who was already pressed against the starboard wall. If felt so nice to let my joints rest. Sandy also made a nice cushion.
We stayed like that for a while and I started to relax. The boat would settle back into position. I would roll some to port. The boat would then heave starboard and I would slam back into Sandy. Over and over and over. Finally, she decided it would be a good idea to switch. I was more than happy to do so since the guilt of crushing her would be relieved and heck I would barely notice her slamming into me. She’s too small.
I crawled over to her side. I was immediately struck by how comfortable and cozy it was. No wonder she didn’t want to move. I then remembered I had made adjustments to the bed for just these occasions. You see when we launched the 2010 voyage, Sandy was not on for the first month of that trip and I had the bunk to myself. I had added some small padding pieces for just this purpose. They felt sooo good. Oh it was like coming home again to my sweet spot for storms. I nestled in and just knew now I would sleep. Sandy could crash in to me all she wanted I was finally going to sleep. It was like 3 am.
No sooner did I sigh a contented sigh and did Sandy settle in too, when the unthinkable happened… the helm changed tack! After leaning starboard almost all day, we were now leaning to port! That means… you guessed it… the boat immediately rolled me to port and I slammed into Sandy. Nothing I could do to stop it. Only now, there was no starboard wall to catch her. A few more of those and Sandy would be landing on the floor. “Sorry” I said. With that, I got up to consider the options.
I really was not sure what to do other than go back to the original sides. But my body ached and what if the boat tacked again. I said to Sandy -” Looks like we won’t be sleeping much tonight”. She decided that maybe the thing to do was turn 90 degrees.
I had thought of that myself at one point. It would put us each between two walls. But, it had a fatal flaw and I pointed that out saying “You want to sleep like this? You realize that all this does is turn us into 2 torpedoes and with the first big wave we will be launched across the room?” She said “Maybe. Maybe not”. It was comfortable. I was tired. Maybe she was right. Plus maybe we could hold ourselves in. We started to doze off.
It was not too long when I felt a movement. Not a wave slamming into the side, more of a slight bump. I opened one eye and suddenly realized it had me. Sure enough, a swell dragged me across my bunk, my hands desperately grabbing for a purchase, and launched me across the room, almost like a catapult, 5 feet across the room!. By the time my second eye opened, I was staring at the door to the incubator. Right behind me, Sandy too was launched and giggling. Clearly, that sleeping orientation was not going to work.
It was a long sleepless night that led into a long storm driven day. In case you are wondering what one does on days like this one, I have attached a series of pictures I took of Tania over a period of a few hours. They are best viewed starting at 1 going through 7 as I took them in that order. You can see the range of activities. I also attached a picture of my bunk and the incubator I said hi too (gray machine with red lights) as seen from the bunk.
Matt and Carolyne enjoyed the noodles and are better today I am pleased to say. Not 100% yet, but on the mend. I made more noodles.
We are all aching from head to toe and in need of a good night’s sleep (or maybe two), but spirits are good and all is essentially well given the conditions.
If you want to see our location on Google Maps we are at:
John Pierce Wise, Sr., Ph.D., Science Director