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Halfway from Hawaii to Japan

Lat = 25; Lon=168 E; Depth = 19,000 feet; Distance to port =2400 NM; Sea temp=22 C; Air temp = 23 C

Lovely sunny morning of pretty Trade cumulus, with clouds shearing off toward the south.  The sea is gorgeous – sun-sparkled water of deepest blue, the first day we haven’t had white caps. The ship rocks gently, and nobody is doing those exclamations of “Whoa!” as they careen around the hallways and stairs.  A very pleasant day to sit out on deck and admire the view.

There have been sea birds hanging around the ship the past few days – mostly boobies, or so I’m told by people who know WAY more about birds than I do. They live on fish which perhaps are disturbed by our passage. Beautifully aerobatic – they swoop and glide and play in the airflow around the swells. They drink seawater and have special glands in their heads to expel the salt.

One of my students saw a fishing boat yesterday. We all wondered what in the world a fishing boat is doing this far from land! Other than that, we are again all alone out here thousands of miles from land with our hundreds of students.

In Global Studies, we assigned a brief reflection paper. This is a huge task to grade, even with seven of us sharing the burden. We have a very specific rubric and John, our head Instructional Coordinator has developed a great system for apportioning the papers to each of us.

As I grade the papers, I’m struck by how young and vulnerable most of these students are. They are reaching far beyond their social and cultural comfort zones to embrace the vast unknown. Just blown away with their courage and deeply respecting their choices to be here rather than close to their families and friends.

Students are really enjoying the sunny warm weather. Many are working on suntans (against the advice of their elders, of course!). The Captain has filled the swimming pool with seawater, and adventurous students have been in there even though the water sloshes wildly back and forth with the motion of the ship. I think people are getting their tropics fix in  because we all know winter still rules in Japan and China a few days hence.

If the weather holds, I’ll head out to the bow with the binocs again tonight. The ship is too well-lit for really good stargazing, which is sad because this is pretty much the darkest place any of us have ever been. But even with the lights, it’s great to see Orion so high in the sky. Canopus looms at the southern horizon, teasing the delights of the deep southern sky which we’ll see later in the voyage.


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