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March 22, 2007

Thoughts As We Pass Midway Island


The ship started pitching early this morning. We woke up expecting to see a fierce ocean outside our window. Instead, it was a vision of calm. There was a fine chop on the water, the conditions were perfect for waterskiing, and yet, amidst all this calm were big, gentle rollers that threw the nose of the boat up, and yanked it down again.

There is no crest on these waves, making them, technically, a swell and they move across the ocean as though pulled by some underwater cable. It is as though we are constantly sailing into the wake of some huge oil tanker. I did not know the sea had moods like this. It is the leftover energy, I'm told, of some storm that raged far to the north and whose force can still being felt in the water. This the closest I've come yet to being sea sick.

Some time last night, we passed near Midway Island, the site of the legendary World War II battle that changed the course of the Pacific War. With land come signs of life. We passed what looked like a deflated balloon during breakfast. Was it a navigation bouy? Was it an actual deflated balloon, let go by a child's hand in Tokyo? There was a white bird swooping around the nose of the ship, like a seagull but with a rounder head and longer beak. It disappeared around lunch.

I see flying fish just about every day. At least I think they are flying fish. They look like giant dragon flies and  zip along just above the water, skipping over waves, then dive in and disappear beneath the surface. Sometimes there's just one, other times they come in small schools, or flocks. If they are not flying fish, they are humming birds whose migration has gone terribly wrong. If they are flying fish, I never imagined they could fly so far.

I am struck by sudden thoughts when I stare out over the railing on the promenade deck. For instance, what can fly farther: flying fish or flying squirrels? Pitting the two species against each other would make good television.

I wonder just how much life is down there. This curiosity is constant and seems to compound on itself. Are there sharks? Giant squid? Could a giant squid kill a Great White? That would also make good television

I saw the captain yesterday and put the question to him. He said there were whales this far out, but that they tend to stick closer to land. Blue Whales, I remember from a grade-school project, eat plankton. There must be lots of plankton out here. There is nothing but water and sunlight. Why aren't there whales?

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Mark ! ! =D

It's very brave of you to travle around the world! :) It's not a good idea to tell you this.But honestly I had to read all your posts owing to my homework for reading class. Still, all your posts you put here are really interesting. Sounds like things are going well so far. I just wonder how will you across the Asia? I'm looking forward to reading your next blog. Good luck with your adventure. I'm intrigued as to where you will be next.=D

~~>> Ambitious 19-year-old girl from South Korea

I agree that the flying fish are amazing. I would frequently find them on the deck when I was in the Navy. Although, being on a cruiser, out main deck was much lower than the one on which you stand. Have you seen dolphins (look near the bow)? I could stand for hours looking at the water as it rolled off the bow. The phosphorescenece is magical at night.

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