Saturday, December 30, 2017

Goodbye 2017. And Good Riddance.

As I have said, this is a small ship.  The ocean is big.  And seas that I have grown used to consider as “inconsequential” aboard the 1000 footers will straightaway put her lithe and narrow hull into a 15 degree roll.

So we roll, roll, roll along.  Everywhere.

There is another motion on this ship, while we be rollin, that I haven’t encountered on any other vessel; I can only liken it to somebody shaking me awake, since it only happens when I am in a deep, fitful sleep.  This morning it happened at about 0430, and continued until about 0700, holding me hostage from REM sleep.  At 0530 it jostled the latch on my head door loose, which promptly slammed hard enough to knock all the clothing hanging on that bulkhead’s hooks to the deck.

And yet my carefully balanced bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Soap remained perched on the smooth, slick metal of the shower valves, unmoved.  In a word, it is inexplicable.

Looking forward while underway.

This is really my first North-South run, and not crossing a time zone a day is a wonderful thing.  To sail without that headache is to remove one of the rocks from my shoe as I walk across the globe from one container port to the next identical container port.  We do cross one zone (from Tokyo to Guam), but this old man advances in the day, so that the net result to the crew is a 7 hour work-day, as opposed to being robbed of an hour of sleep.  On the way back we retard at night, so we get an extra hour of sleep.

And while it was in the 20’s in Pusan when we left her shore, and in the 30’s in Yokohama when we left that city, it only takes 5 days to get to Guam.

Guam’s heat is ferocious even in winter… the humidity is such that stepping out on deck on a cloudless day is like stepping into the shower.  I was very glad for the time to adjust in Hawaii, though Honolulu is about 15 degrees cooler this time of year than Guam.

To hire a Guamanian taxi is to be legally robbed by a licensed agency… I am not sure if it is because we are a captive client without other options, or if Guam despises its American overlords and it’s merely a way of showing spite, but each direction to town (a 10 - 15 minute drive) is $50.  Each way.

So my organic yogurt, kombucha, maple syrup, and hydrogen peroxide set me back a pretty penny.

Saipan is 12 hours north, much smaller, and about 10 degrees cooler than Guam.  We had the latter half of the day to hit the beach, but by the time we finished taking on stores a heavy rain moved in and parked over the island.  I opted to forego exploring on my first visit, a rare event for me.

And then we steamed back north.  Back to Pusan and back to the cold.  And then South again, back to Yokohama.  1 ½ trips in and I am already acutely aware of early-onset Groundhog Day syndrome.

So here I sit, New Years Eve, tying a bell rope and listening to an audiobook at the early hour of 2100.  We sail at 0400, and many of the younger, hardier, and foolhardy aboard will be living it up in Tokyo, a short bullet-train ride away, and getting back to the ship an hour before sailing with a stagger to their swagger.

Not this one- a melatonin is dissolving under my tongue as I type.

I recall last year:  January 1, 2017, New Year’s morning, in between Sri Lanka and the Malacca Straits (in the Bengal Sea), waking up at 0030 and racing into my small head to spend the next 8 hours in a tiled room as dengue fever played hell with every inch of my internal plumbing.

The tension headache.  My bleeding gums.  The rash.  The loss of overtime pay that day.  2017 started nauseatingly crappy- 2018 can damned well start well-rested and serene.

5 days until Guam.  5 days until summer.


  1. If I had ever wanted to run away to sea, you have cured me!

  2. No time zones to speak of, rocked to sleep every night and a ship with a sexy shimmy ... how great is your life?