Friends wondered about our sanity, spending more than a month at sea with many days far from any port or land. We loved it, but it might not be for everybody. We were never bored with the scenery. The ocean never looked the same, it was always changing. Sometimes it looked like great slabs of steel grey slate carefully laid down and shimmering in the diffused light of a cloudy day. The great Pacific swells or violent waves of an approaching storm dominated other days. In between it looked like a calm lake on a warm summer day. It’s the same with the sky. Because one can see from horizon to horizon in every direction, hours can go by just watching fronts, storms, and sunny skies come and go.
Standing near the bow, I watched flying fish scuttle away. I’m told they “fly” to escape predators, and we must have looked like the biggest one in the ocean. Now and then a bird would fly by. What amazed us were not the frigates or albatross, but the small white birds furiously flapping to maintain altitude a few inches above the waves, maybe several hundred miles from their tiny atoll home. One morning a grey tern of some kind cuddled on the deck next to my chair and seemed satisfied to stay there as long as I kept a respectable distance. Being a bird watcher but not a bird namer has its disadvantages.
Mornings began early and in solitude on the fantail in silent meditation led by the words of the Daily Office. A mile or more on the deck later on, and a good workout in the gym in the afternoon, left plenty of time for reading, visiting and enjoying superb lectures from the resident anthropologist, a retired professor from Chico State.
At home I tend to let sundown slip by almost unnoticed, which is a shame because less than ten minutes away we could be on the side of one of the foothills watching magnificent sunsets on a horizon more than sixty miles away. At sea it is all but impossible to ignore it, and with it I found myself daily saying the Phos Hilaron:
O gracious Light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
and to be glorified through all the world.
I supposed what we enjoyed the most was that time slowed down to a crawl, a very delicious crawl, and that’s not bad. We’ve been home a week, a week that has gone by in a flash. Time has resumed its normal speed.