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Student Embarkation Day!

The students are on board! We boarded 557 students and 24 lifelong learners this morning, and are now preparing to sail over the horizon, away from phones and facebook and land (and probably this blog).

We will spend the next 8 days crossing the blue ocean to Hawaii, crawling along the surface at about 23 miles per hour. I’ve never traveled like this before. As an Earth scientist I know the distances and times. As a frequent traveler it as always seemed like 10 hours to cross the Pacific, but this time it will take 20 days (8 to Hawaii and then another 12 to Japan).

The median age on then ship just dropped A LOT! The students are excited and rowdy and energetic as hell. It’s going to be SO MUCH FUN!

We saw a bunch of sea lions playing in the water and on the rocks by the pier. Some of the students played loud music for them and the sea lions seemed to dance around for them. Or maybe it was just my imagination.

The waxing Moon is flying high over us this afternoon. We got a new camera with a great zoom lens, and I snapped a pic. I’m hoping to get the captain to turn off the lights on the stern some clear night in the next week, so I can explore the stars of the winter north with the students from the darkest skies on Earth, hundreds of miles from land. I have a bunch of image-stabilized binocs and a green laser pointer, and the ship has a small telescope. 

Then we will try the same trick as we travel further and further south, until we can see the stars of southern autumn from South Africa, The legendary wonders of the Other Side of the Sky which are completely unknown to most of us from the North: the Coal Sack, the Magellanic Clouds, the Jewel Box. Shiver me timbers!

We just had a lifeboat drill. Sheesh. Like a giant fire drill at work. Hundreds of people marching to “muster stations” in life jackets. Women and children first. Since 80% of the students are women, most of the men would ride inflatable rafts instead of enclosed boats. But we won’t be abandoning ship then, will we?!

Engines have just fired up! Sun is setting! In 25 minutes, we will leave Mexico and sail west out into the blue.

It may be that I can send text occasionally from mid-ocean, or maybe the next post will be January 12 from Hawaii.


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