Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 20

My senior steward and I fondly call working here the boat bi-polar. Within an hours time, or maybe 10 minutes, you can easily find yourself from one emotional extreme to another. This was particularly true for me the first few weeks of my contract (oh hey! Two months left as of yesterday by the by!). This is certainly the hardest job that I’ve ever had. (Right now I’m writing this rather objectively and during an ‘up & up’ portion of ‘boat bi-polar’ so don‘t worry. J ) I have in one moment been amazed to be kayaking among seastars and jellies in remote places of Alaska and another having a meltdown while cleaning a cabin, throwing pillows and heave crying saying to myself “You do not do this! You don’t lose it like this! This is not professional!” A picture which now makes me laugh out loud. I can be freaking out on a turn day* trying to soft scrub 1 of 7 heads* that are part of cabins which need to be fully turned around from guests that got off that morning for guests who are getting on at 5:00. And I can be laughing in a snorkel mask with disbelief that I get to be paid to be in Baja California. Boat bi-polar.

*turnday- the day one group of guests disembarks in the morning and a whole new boat load of guests comes on in the afternoon.

*head- bathroom

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Today is my brother Samuel’s 12th birthday. Happy Birthday Sam! I love that kiddo and miss him muchly and I hope that his day, and coming year are remarkably good.

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Happy Christmas week! I love Christmas and even though I’m not home (can’t think about it!) I’m excited that it’s Christmas. I love this time and I’ve been reading through advent devotions that are very good. Last night my friend and fellow steward, Edd, read with me and we also read through the prayers and such for the day in his prayer book. It was such a good thing and my heart was very glad. Tonight Jackie and I worked on harmonizing a couple of Christmas carols and we’re going to try and get the boys to sing with us for Christmas day. Thanks to the lovely Miss Leah our crew lounge is decorated with a string of Christmas lights, sprig of mistletoe and even a felt snowman “Let It Snow” sign. I don’t really see that happening though; J Here we call Pelican Poo on the rocks our “snow”. Strangely it looks just like it. We’ll have a ‘blue’ Christmas with the beautiful Baja water. Daisey and I are going to bake cookies on Christmas eve and we’ve all drawn names for exchanging gifts. Plus I have a brown paper package from home sitting in my closet.

“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.”

Smile. I’ve had this line from ‘The Grinch’ going round in my head.

And now I shall go and take a short late night nap before the lunar eclipse at midnight thirty. G’night.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa Catalina Day Off

I woke up at 7:30 today so I could catch a zodiac for a hike and snorkeling at Santa Catalina on my first Baja day off. After gathering snorkel gear and a quick bite of chicken tortilla scrambled eggs and blueberry oat pancakes left for the island and joined a hike one of our naturalists, Sharon, was leading. Sharon speculated that the island had gotten some of the recent hurricane activity because the barrel cactus were doing beautifully and she could feel some moisture in the air. This is the only part of the world where you can find barrel cactus which are very tall and multi limbed. Which incidentally is not a term the naturalists used.

The area here is uninhabited and yet the trail we took was nearly perfect because it was an ‘arryo’, a dry river bed. Santa Catalina is the only home of the rattle-less rattlesnake. We didn’t see any of these but we did see hummingbirds, mockingbirds, ravens, woodpeckers, and even a Christmas cardinal. As for plants there were many barrel cactus as well as the aptly named Japanese lantern plant, indigo, night blooming jasmine and other things which I don’t remember the names of. Oh! We saw desert mistletoe.

If you were to walk alone here, which I can do next time, you would be able to experience a quiet unlike you can find anywhere I’ve been before. You’d have chattering birds but that’s about it.

Coming back from the hike, it is a very different thing to go from desert Wil-E Coyote/Roadrunner terrain to the lapping of waves against a beach of smooth granite rocks.

We took the zodiac from here back to the SeaBird only to board almost immediately again to go out snorkeling. And there I swallowed quite a bit of salt water, got a saline wash for my eyeballs, and saw some beautiful sea life with Daisey and Tom. I pestered a pufferfish (to no avail), surveyed a starfish (blue), hovered over some urchins (yeah, there goes the alliteration.), was enamored by the little blue neon fish, and stung by a jelly for the first time.

After lunch and a nap I could tell we must have sighted something because the boat had slowed down. Sure enough I could hear strange eerie shrill shrieking from my cabin and then Jackie’s footsteps coming down the focsle stairs to verbosely announce “Dolphins. Hundreds.” We ran upstairs and watched with the rest of the boat as these hundreds of playful water mammals jumped around in the water, sometimes following to boat, sometimes jumping full body lengths out of the air.

It was a good day off.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bonanza Beach Swim. Without the Beach.

Several of us spent the better part of yesterday horizontal as we hit some seasick creating waves. It's really the first day like that we've had for positioning and it was the last of about seven so that's good. After laying in bed pretty much all day I felt the boat finally get still around 5. I began getting up to clean one of my rooms or something productive but Ryan knocked on the cabin door as I was getting my uniform together to say that we were going swimming.

Change of plans then. :)

And so we did. A bunch of us got our swimsuits on, but a piece of carpet down on the 200 level deck and dove off into the beautiful teal blue sea under a crescent of a moon. It was scary to think that something bigger or at least fiercer than our boat could very easily be beneath or around us but it didn't stop us. The salt water felt so so good and it wasn't cold like I'd expected it to be.

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Today we're in La Paz. It is beautiful and sunshiny and we got ice cream from a shop with a polka dot painted tree. There are pelicans on the water and sometimes when friggit birds fly over, silhouetted over the desert skyline it looks like some kind of prehistoric landscape.
Thanks to Miss Jackie Daum for the picture. Left to right; Kendra (chief mate), Amelia (deckhand), Jackie (steward. Also roomie and musician.), Ryan (steward), Alexis (third mate), Edd (steward), Me, Tom (deckhand)

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Good Day

Yesterday I walked out the cabin door to see fellow crew members rushing upstairs. Dolphins. They weren't bow riding, weren't actually even very close, but I did see two or three of them and more importantly the ushering out to the deck let me see that all around us was the big beautiful blue sea, that it was calm, and that it wasn't cold out. All of these were a welcome relief after two weeks of dusty grimy shipyard.

I got to work outside nearly all day. I sanded chairs getting them ready to be varnished. It was good to work with my hands and see progress as the day went on. I got to see the daylight change. Oh and we even saw a whale spout!

At midday Ryder (one of the deckhands) stopped me from sanding to point out that in every direction you could see nothing but sea and sky. No other boats. No mountains. Nothing but blue on blue. That night as dusk fell the stars came out crystal clear in the dark night sky. Beautiful. I leaned backward off the side of the ship so that the sky became the bowl beneath me and the water a canopy above my head. There was the smallest sliver of dusk light right at the horizon to show the difference between the two.

Just for a clear picture of what is going on on the boat right now- we've finished shipyard and are positioning south to Baja California (Mexico). It is a seven day positioning trip. For such a trip we don't have any guests on board and the ship is secured. ie; drawers and cupboards are taped up, windows are bolted which means on the dining room/cabin floors we have an eternal dusk. On the last two positioning trips I was on it was extremely rocky and we are a little boat and most of us were sea sick and not a whole lot got done. This trip is calm and even the most sensitive to motion are bustling about working long hours to get ship shape for the upcoming guest trips.

We are in day ... actually I lose track of time on this boat and especially during positioning so I don't know what day we're on but we get to La Paz on December 9.

Thanks for reading!