Saturday morning found me chatting with the crew about how it felt to be so disconnected from the world in an era where we have come to be so very reliant on constant and rapid channels of communication. The topic came to light after more than a few of us experienced a level of techno envy the day previous when Amanda produced a piece of satellite technology that enabled her to engage in a text conversation with her mother back in the Yukon in Canada. It was for a moment as though somebody had arrived at an AA meeting with a bottle of rum. I noticed that I was not alone as I glanced longingly at the device and began asking questions about cost and availability. Ironically, as we discussed this concept this morning, the majority decided unequivocally that technological disconnection from the outside world has been a huge influence in gaining a greater connection with the immediate natural world around us. There are simply no distractions here, our world is 72 feet long and without news of the outside world it is hard to imagine that it even exists. Having said this I find it hard to be restricted in communicating with loved ones which is partially why the ability to blog this experience is of great importance to me if perhaps a little ironic.
We are currently experiencing the vast expanse of the ocean known as the Pelagic. Tegan likened it to being the ocean equivalent of the desert with little presence of sea life other than the microscopic examples that we recover in our samples each day and the odd sea bird or flying fish. There have been a few sightings of Dolphins too but in general it is a far different experience to the rich and bountiful waters closer to the coastline. Every moment of every day presents a vista of endless endless ocean. For a moment standing on the deck and staring into the distance you can just touch on the comprehension of just how far away from any land mass we are and subsequently how very small we are relative to our environment. I prefer not to linger in those thoughts for too long as it starts to feel a little uncomfortable and instead return to the daily routine that gives us our much needed structure and security. I can’t help but admire the mental strength of the solo sailors whose exploits captured the imagination of the world long before the navigational and communication technologies that we take for granted today. It isn’t hard to picture how the sense of isolation and confinement could easily send a person mad.
The obvious plastic presence here is also minimal although we are still picking up fragments in the daily manta trawl which exemplifies just how far reaching the issue of the unseen has become. Each day as part of life with eXXpedition we have a group conversation or presentation from one of the crew which range from an insight into endocrine disrupters to advice on career and business plan ideas. Of cour se there are many organic conversations throughout the working day, often which degrade into raucous laughter and ridiculous hilarity. Humour is possibly the greatest asset that one can possess in this environment alongside patience and tolerance. The eclectic mix of characters on board present a plethora of humorous opportunity and some of the most unlikely friendships are really blossoming along the way.
This morning I was woken a few hours into my off watch to the announcement that we were approaching the equator. I was really looking forward to this pivotal moment but significant sailing moments always remind me of the people that aren’t with me to share them and I can’t help but feel a melancholy so I am more distant than I had hoped to be. The girls were fabulous in their ceremony however, dressing up in sarongs provided by heather and wearing gold body tattoos and in Sarah’s case, some spangly pants on her head. There were cheers as we crossed into the Southern Hemisphere and thanks were given to Neptune as well as personal messages. Psychologically this waypoint feels significant and Diana has declared a non science day before we adjust course later today, ease our sails and make a heading for Recife Brazil.
– Emily Caruso, First Mate on Sea Dragon.