8:17pm Grytviken – South Georgia time
About 100 miles southeast of Newfoundland
Speed: 21 knots
Swells: 5 metres
The ship was really rocking and swaying when I woke up this morning. I was feeling a little funny when I went down for breakfast, but felt a lot worse trying to eat the eggs and toast that were set in front of me. I left half of them, and returned to my cabin, where I lost the other half. I felt much better after that, though, thank God. Spent the day in bed, read most of Ben Elton’s Gridlock, which is hilarious- he sends up the road lobby so well. Would be really funny if it weren’t so true and scary. Well recommended though.
I skipped lunch, ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich from the food I brought on board, and napped through much of the afternoon. I guess I’m going to have to get used to this rocking and rolling- there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it- sometimes we roll forward, then diagonal, then left and right. Helps to look at the horizon, though this is difficult when in the stairwell without any windows.
The crew and officers have been very sympathetic, and all have given me their own recommended cures: drink lots of water and eat lots of food, get fresh air, eat dry biscuits, look at the horizon, and take dramamine. The last suggestion I’m holding out against unless I really need it. I’m feeling a lot better this evening, even though the swells have remained, which is a good sign I suppose.
At dinner, I was sitting with the Electrician, Ariel (or Elec as everyone calls him), pictured above. He is such a nice guy, and has made me feel right at home onboard. One of the officers, a guy named Bernie, extinguished his cigarette and came to sit down next to us. He is from a border town between France and Germany, and he was happy to have someone to speak French with. It turns out he served in Algeria and Vietnam for the French forces and witnessed some pretty horrible things that he still has nightmares about til this day. The Algerians killed three of his friends in front of him, stabbed him repeatedly, and cut out one of his “eggs” as he put it. Ouch. When he decided to withdraw from the Army, he was given a dishonorable discharge, and says he will never fire a weapon again in his life. Though he understands why the Algerians wanted to have their freedom, he still says he hates Muslims, and started going off on religious hatred, when Elec, the Jehovah’s Witness, calmed him down, reminding him that killing in the name of religion is a bad thing.
Bernie left us, and I asked Elec whether there were ever fights onboard. He pointed to a scar on his forehead, and explained that he had tried to break up a fight amongst drunken crewmembers, and had been attacked himself, long ago.
After dinner, I wandered up to the bridge, to ask if I could walk out to the bow. They said no, that it was too dangerous, that it was evening and that there wasn’t any crew up there to help if I got into trouble. I hung out outside the bridge, taking in the vast expanses of ocean on all sides, and watching the huge ship rolling over the swells.
I haven’t seen much sea life- the seagulls have disappeared now, but I did see a couple of what looked like starlings gliding and flirting around each other in the wind. I think they may be using the ship as an “island” as I saw them hanging out near the bow.
It’s pretty amazing that 2/3 of the planet is covered by ocean, yet most of us have little direct experience of it. Being out here gives me renewed appreciation for the early mariners who lacked all the safety, communications equipment and weather info we have at our fingertips today. Such a vast expanse of water- it must be terrifying to be out there in a lifeboat on your own.