Location: Algerian Basin
Hi everyone! Today was hands down my favorite day on passage the entire trip. The most amazing things happened. It all started off with an early wake-up at 4 AM for Watch Team One’s first watch of the day. Coming out of the companionway, the first things visible were the thousands of stars in the sky. Accompanying them was the small sliver that was the moon, which was directly off our bow: perfect for navigation. Although it was a slow start and everyone was exhausted, we chugged along and performed our duties as active members of the crew. As 6 AM rolled around, the sky began to brighten, and we were all prepared for sunrise. Haley and I took bow watch starting at 7 AM. Although we could tell the sun wanted to peek its head over the horizon, it still had not. Since the sea was so calm, the crew on bow watch were allowed to sit in the bowsprit nets. That was directly where I headed. After twenty minutes, the sky turned to the color of gold, and the sun slowly rose and took its place as our new directional beacon. As soon as the sunrise finished, almost as if on cue, a school of five or six dolphins graced us with their presence and decided to swim directly below the nets, which held Haley and me. After thirty seconds, they faded back into the bright blue Mediterranean Sea. As our watch came to an end and Watch Team Two took to the deck, Haley spotted some black objects bobbing in the water. Soon after, we heard shouts of “Whales!” Ben powered down our engines and allowed them to catch up to the boat, and for the next twenty or so minutes, they put on a show for the crew on deck. We later identified them as False Killer Whales. They were some of the coolest animals I have ever seen in my life. They were so serene and peaceful but also quite playful. After the show ended, I decided to catch a little shut-eye and take the opportunity to nap. That is until I was awoken three hours later by the commotion of the fire alarm going off. I quickly grabbed my type-1 life preserver (the big orange ones used in emergencies) and hustled on deck only to find out the chefs (Matt, David, and Alberto) had forgotten to turn off the alarms while they were cooking. After gaining another hour of sleep after this little “drill,” I was woken up at 12 PM for lunch. The great chicken wraps with homemade sauce really made up for the fire alarm mishap. We then continued with cleanup, a sea turtle sighting, a jam session in the kitchen, and then classes. In MTE, we are gearing up to take our Navigation Master Test, which is closing in and will be six days from now. We are all practicing problems on the chart daily. In OCE, we are learning about the effects of Aquaculture (farm-raising fish and other aquatic organisms) on our culture and ecosystem and deciding whether or not it is good or bad. There was a pretty split decision from the class, and it was interesting to hear other people’s perspectives on the matter. As soon as classes ended, we were ready for our normal boat showers in which the hose pumps us with saltwater. However, being as calm as it was, Kris decided it would be ok to do something that we hadn’t done yet while we were on passage. This was to power down the engine and jump off the side for and Ocean Swim Call (aka ocean showers). When we all came up on deck, we were excited to try this new method of getting clean. The exclamations of, “Oh, wow!” and “This is so cool!” could be heard. The water was glassy, calm, and so clear that it looked like it went down forever. Checking out our navigational chart before I jumped in, I found out the depth was between 500 and 600 meters. This was the deepest swimming pool I had ever been in. I jumped in and swam around in this beautiful place and felt completely at ease. To top off this perfect moment, we then saw a Spanish Warship come cruising past about two miles off our stern. By the time showers were done, it was about 4 PM, and my watch team was back at it again. We jammed to some more tunes, and then I conducted the last boat check with Chapman. I put on the normal noise-canceling headphones to walk into the engine room and opened the watertight door to enter, but something was different. The entire engine room smelled of garlic bread and pesto pasta, which was being cooked by our chefs on the other side of the wall. It was the best boat check I have ever had to do -and by the way, that pasta was really good. Now, as I conclude writing this novel of a blog, I can’t help but think about how amazing this entire trip has been and how fortunate I am to be where I am right now. To all at home: I wish you the best!