Friday, January 07, 2005

Evan's guest post

2105, 01.06.05

Bow of the H.M.S. Bounty standing bow watch at twenty-one-oh-five.

The sea was just answering the question I had posed to Allison: what experience had left the greatest impression on her in these first few days. I had been starring at the water and a white trail zipped past, weaving at high speed like a dorsal fin of a shark. But once several appeared in and among each other, breaching regularly it was clearly a pod of dolphins. They churned up the phosphorescent microorganisms as they sped through the water leaving long glowing trails. Allison remarked that at first she thought they were eels, the trails were so brilliant and long. They were back into the fog bank obscured from sight in less than a minute leaving only the sounds of their exhalations carried clearly over the still night water as they swam away. Doubtlessly circling and following and chasing each other in the familiar way easily recognized--or easily anthropomorphized as affection.

Elettra even shrieked with glee when see relieved us and we told her the only sighting on our bow watch was of dolphins.

This was characteristic of our guests. They are enchanted by the sea and its opportunities to instruct. These first few days have found them inquisitive as to the workings of the ship but they are very conscious of the context that any such question or answer on that topic would be in. It is how the ship acts in the sea. They understand that we are bound to it and the wind, water, and weather and that it is in these things that the answers to theirs and every mariner's questions are found. In this way they have already learned the lesson common to us professional sailors as well as their and our common seafaring ancestors since time began.

Our guests grasp this humbling reality that has confronted sailors that have sought to escape the essential, universal realities that constrained them on land. As on land, nature's dictates of the human condition follow us; they find us upon the vast, trackless sea. But surprisingly enough this apprehension of civilization's wayward fugitives does not frustrate, it does not embitter. For our guests as with our ancient mariners have not been swindled in this transaction. In her generosity nature has given sailors the freedom to rewrite the rules that they left behind. They sail away on their own nation toward the realization of their collective vision of utopia. While sometimes more dictatorial than democratic under the ships hierarchy in formal political binds, they are free to create their own body politik, their own culture independent of the families, peoples, and even languages they left behind.

This promise of hope is the consolation given to sailors for setting forth in to uncertainty and unknown hazard on the high seas. The compromise to allay their being denied the escape they sought. The pact we mariners, sailors and students, have found as we redefine our previously held assumptions and beliefs from what we need to be happy to our tolerance of the erosion of personal hygiene.
posted by Evan