The first few days were quite a trial, getting using to an aquatic life in less than ideal sea conditions. While I will spare you the gritty details, I broke through the worst of it on the second night.
Waking at 2am for watch, I barely struggled into my ‘foulies’ (wet weather gear). I stumbled on deck, the cool air instant relief, and the milky way spilled across the sky. In these wee hours, First Mate Dale teaches me, complete sailing novice, to steer for the first time, using compass and stars to keep the 72 foot boat on course. Tethered to the boat by the 5 foot length of red webbing attached to my life vest- harness, I am jostled by swells I cannot judge in the dark, which send occasional heavy splashes of sea water direct to my face. Flying at 10 knots, with shooting stars above and bioluminescence below, I finally feel I am doing something as part of the crew. The rest of my watch team nods off as I hold the wheel through dawn.
Tomorrow I’m flying to Hawaii where I’ll join the Algalita Marine Research Foundation’s North Pacific Survey, sailing from Honolulu to Vancouver conducting research on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Lots more details to follow, but you can meet the crew and read about research goals here.
As the first installment, I will not attempt to solve the problems of plastic pollution, but offer instead my answer to the question: What to pack for a three-week sailing expedition through multiple climate zones? This will be followed next week by how to make it all fit in a 50x40x26 centimeter storage box.
Highlights include: water shoes, dramamine, pen made from recycled bottle, 5 different modes of documentation (camera, video, audio, laptop, notebooks), sea bands (will they work?), board shorts from when skater clothes were cool in high school, headlamp (for night watch???), comm department t-shirt, Marx t-shirt, lots and lots of sunscreen.
And, after months of deliberation (seriously), the book list:
Moby Dick is secreted away on my ipod, so as to avoid embarrassing photo-cliche opportunities.