Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fighting Sleep at Fanning

I fight against my eyes gradually closing. The whole universe seems to be revealing itself in every new star that glimmers into sight. Yet my eyes are slowly betraying me in favor of sleep after a long day. I’m curled up in the mainstays’l on the house top before my watch starts, procrastinating sleep for just a few more minutes of star gazing.
Out in the middle of the subtropical Pacific anchored at Fanning I am in a completely new world. Yet I am overcome by a feeling of home. Surrounded by with lush coconut trees, coral reefs, and a blazing sun, which leaves enough heat so that even now in the middle of the night I am comfortable in shorts and a tank I am clearly a long way from home in Seattle. But in my sail “hammock” I’m being rocked ever so slightly by the usual swing associated with being close to shore. The familiar chirp from the depth sounder and the noise of sails creaking have become as comforting as my puppies snoring peacefully at home. Its remarkable how three weeks on the ship have simply flown by. The Seamans has truly become our home and we’ve learned it like the back of our hand -well someone else’s hand that doesn’t seem to be constantly plagued with new cuts and scrapes- boat checks are completed with a sense of ease from knowing how the boat should be looking. Number of steps from the bunk to the head memorized so that even before the night vision kicks in, we can still get ready for watch without stumbling about the ship. This comfort surrounds me in a way I’ve only experienced before at home. The Seamans has certainly become home. Only this home is always guaranteed to have the best sunsets and views from the rail. 
Gazing out into a never-ending universe my thoughts are running away with me. After Evan’s uncommon dialogue about the vastness of the universe, I can’t stop gazing into the stars with amazement and awe. This feeling has come over me a lot this trip. A nearly inexplicable feeling of pure joy so overwhelming that I can’t help giggle and smile. From when we first set sail, the first sunset, making our way into Palmyra, the swimming hole, spending time at north beach, to now - laying out on the boat willing sleep to wait just a few more minutes, these moments overtake me and remind me why I am doing Stanford@SEA in the first place. For the adventure, for the fun, for the people, and to reconnect with my most joyous self.

My eyes close briefly. Then a distinct splash of the port side – dolphins. I’m falling asleep on a beautiful ship, in the middle of the Pacific next to an incredible new island to explore, surrounded by dolphins. I feel asleep with a smile, one that I haven’t been able to shake off since.

-Anja Brandon

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