Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Farewell SeaBird ~ Part One

As fellow stew Jackie Daum recently wrote in a subject line to her e-mail, Operation Sea Bird Successful! Hurrah! Six months of stewarding at sea completed. For the week leading up to going I was so, so excited. We had a truly good expedition week seeing everything from Mama & calf grey whale pairs, to beautiful weather and sunsets/rises, to breaching humpbacks, to blue whales very, very close to the boat and outlined partially under the water in a white silhouette. Plus we had a really good group of guests, mostly German who understood very little of what most of us said (intro's went something like "Hello" "He llo. Thank you." "Yes, well, this is your pa system..." "Thank you" "Your shoilet..." "Thank you" "We ask that you reuse your towels...' "Thank you." "We have complimentary champagne in the lounge..." "Champagne!" This they understood.) and who thoroughly enjoyed their time. The ship usually goes to bed or at least goes quiet guest wise pretty soon after dinner if there isn't any lecture or video scheduled, but the Germans? The Germans stayed up and talked and sang and danced- not kidding, danced-and of course, drank. Our bartender was becoming rather nervous about how his stores were going to hold out as the week went on and the Germans drank him out of bar and home. They knew how to have a good time and they were grateful and excited about what they saw and did.

So the whole week I was excited about my near freedom and then came the day and as I turned my cabins with the replacement stew Chrissy, and felt how weird it was watching someone begin to take over for me, and realised the group of people that I wouldn't work in again (not that I wouldn't come back but that boat chemistry and staff is constantly changing) I began to feel the bittersweetness, and the edge of sadness that came with the excitement of freedom. This boat, with its good and its bad, it's extremes of excitement and difficulties, had been my home for the past six months and it was now time to go. I was ready to go, but it was also sad.

The goodbyes were drawn out as I returned to the boat once for my passport and to say goodbye to Kathy. I came back at the end of the day because I'd bumped into one of the naturalists who was also getting off and she was looking for Carlos. It was good that I came back then. The boat was picturesque with the sun setting and the hustle and bustle of crew all dressed up to welcome guests on board. It was fun to see it from the outside looking in. I've always enjoyed seeing the boat from off of it, and watching it like a play or movie set with so many different things going on at once in different parts of the boat. I love that.

I saw Kathy on the fantail and she ran up to the top deck because that's where the gangway was. I met her there and gave her a real hug since before I'd had to wake her up from a nap to say goodbye. She had a pretty lily in her hair which she took out and gave to me. I'd just bought a rose on the street and wondered who it belonged to. So then I knew and gave it to Kathy. She told me to wait, that Jordan was coming.

Ian came up the steps in his deckhand garb, Jordan in his third mate uniform and there was Kathy all stew like. And so began the most fabulous goodbye ceremony I've ever been a part of.
Jordan: (presentationally) Rachel Faith Feet Whitacre
Kathy: (reminding) Faitharellie
Jordan: Faitharellie
Kathy: Rellie
Jordan: Rellie
Kathy: Rells
Jordan: (turning to Kathy and transfering temporarily out of the pretend decorum and into conversational questioning) Just 'Rells'?
(Faith and Kathy nod and say over one another)
Kathy: Just Rells Faith; I like Rells
Jordan: (returning to presentation modeP) Rells
Ian: Grumpy Pants
Jordan: Grumpy Pants Whitacre we present to you with all pomp and decorum...
Ian: (with hand gestures) Pomp. Decorum.
Jordan: this flag which flew over the Sea Bird for at least one of the seasons which you worked.
(they hand me a flag and then stand to attention most comically and salute in the sunset. It was delightful.)

I then gave hugs to the three of them and took my flag and my lily and walked down the gangplank to sit on the patio at the hotel and wave goodbye when the SeaBird disembarked.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oh Happy Day

So I have definitely dropped off of the countdown, not for lack of things going on but for lack of time to write about them. I won’t waste a lot of time going back over them just yet as today was marvelous and I want to write about that instead. I will however say that for the first two days of this week it seems that I have woken up on the ‘wrong side of the bed’ (“Wow that must hurt. You’ve only got one side.” says Ian.) and have been rather grumpy and easily angered. Last week blues apparently but I would like to finish strong, not grumpy.

Anyway.

Today was my last morning in Magdalena Bay. I wanted to go out in the morning and try once more to touch whales. Sam was kind enough to switch days off with me to make this possible and last night Ian, not knowing that I had the day off, offered to cover for me so I could go out. This was a very nice offer particularly considering that he is a deckhand and not in the steward realm. Everyone has been very kind and encouraging about me trying to touch the whales. It’s very sweet and I feel quite loved.

On this past turn day Captain, who has been probably my biggest supporter in the whole deal-well, aside from Kathy anyway, was talking about getting a crew boat out .

“And somebody needs to hold faith by the ankles so she can touch one of the damn things.“ hehehe. Thanks Captain Kay.

Last week I was saying to someone that well if I didn’t touch one it was okay, that I had had a wonderful experience with Kathy, that I had seen the big beautiful eye so close, that it had all been amazing. Then beside me Captain said, “Plus, there’s always next year.”

And I found myself repeating ‘And there’s always….Captain!’

Yesterday he kept saying “This is it. This is the day Faith.” It wasn’t, but it made me happy that he wanted it to be. Plus we had a wonderful outing on the crew boat, seeing them, trying to call them closer, following cow calf pairs, watching them roll and fluke and blow.

~

I woke up early this morning, despite a fairly late night and a recent lack of sleep to try and fit on the seven o’clock zodiac trip. Trinity hadn’t been sure that there would be room. While I was getting ready Daisey came in- “Rawr!” she said. “We’re having coffee on the lido if you want to come.”

“I do!”

I went upstairs to the lido where Leah, Kathy, Becky and Daisey were setting up chairs while the sun rose. It was a beautiful morning on the water with the sun making the clouds pink. Kathy split a warm, freshly made blueberry muffin with me and Daisey passed me half a banana. I sat for a few minutes, enjoying the company and the view before I had to go downstairs to find out if there was zodiac room.

I sat in the crew lounge and chatted with Ian and Jordan while getting my life vest on. “Do you want my jacket?” Ian asked. “It will keep you toasty warm.” It can get rather cold out on the bay in the morning…particularly because I usually get my sleeves wet splashing around for whales….and I was happy to take him up on the offer. Trinity opened the fantail door “You want to go out on this one.” she said, and I hopped happily out the door to find myself in Carter and Williams boat, a good pair. (Carter is Jordan’s big brother and our bosun) Captain wished me a farewell, “Go for it girl!”

~

We saw blows right away and followed a couple of pairs. Some of them were rainbow blows, the mist catching the morning light just right to make a rainbow. Most of the zodiacs went on ahead but we stayed with a Mama and calf that had surfaced fairly close. We had seen a baby approach the EL’s zodiac before they left again. Just as we were about to leave ourselves up came baby. Each time he came up I would find myself either squealing or coaxing. “C’mon baby! Aqui!”, and I would splash and splash the water.

“Call them over Faith!” Carter encouraged.

I don’t remember the order of events. I don’t remember when they decided to become friendlies. I remember the Mama shooshing the baby away at one point before they did. I remember watching baby roll off of Mama’s back so so close. I remember being pleased even at just how close we were seeing them. And Carter switching seats with me when they were getting close to one side of the raft. And then I remember William, “Here! Here! Here! Oh my!” Baby was right there. His mouth, with patches of white, coming up out of the water from, his body maybe under the boat. William was touching and I think he and Carter both were telling me it was there. Carter may have even called my attention to it, like I say, I don’t quite recall. But I do know that I reached and reached and then! Oh! I touched that beautiful baby! And since I touched his lips it’s like I got a whale kiss. Oh my.

I was so happy. So happy. Baby bumped us and our zodiac moved. And Mama and baby just kept coming back to play. Carter kept letting me know where they were, while he himself was flipping out over them too. He’d never touched one til that day either. We could see their big beautiful forms under the water, on one side, then underneath our boat, then on the other side. We could see them come closer to the surface. Mom’s body coming closer, closer and you can hardly believe how big this thing is and how close it is to you and it takes your breath away, and then up she comes, you can see her flipper, it’s right beside you and you reach out and touch her. I got to touch Mama and baby.

Then baby came back up, his mouth out of the water again and I thought I could kiss him. So I tried. But he was just farther than I thought and if they hadn’t pulled me back I certainly would have fell in. Right after this near spill Mama knocked the boat and we rocked. (Let me just say that they are so gentle. When they bump our boats it isn’t malicious at all. They don’t ever show us aggression.)

It was getting close to time that we had to had back and up they came again. I gasped to be able to see, under the water, that they were ‘standing up’. Both Mama and baby were vertical in the water and I could see most of the length of their bodies. It was just incredible. Marvelous. Breathtaking.

My face hurt from smiling as we headed back to the ship. I couldn’t wait to tell Captain. I was so full with the fact that on this last day, in the last half hour possible, I had touched a whale. I praised and thanked God. I smiled and smiled and sometimes I laughed.

When we got back the guests getting off (who had had a wonderful time. Oh! There was this one middle age man who kept talking all this non-whale, middle age man talk with William in the most boring way. Sometimes while there were whales about us! Then he would stand up to take pictures entirely unaware of me and blocking my sight. Once he sat on my hip. I was a bit annoyed. But then, when the whales came close, he was one of the first reaching hopefully and excitedly to touch. It was really cute.)

Told Captain that we had touched whales. “Did Faith touch one? She had to have.”

“Yes!” I squeaked from the back. “I did!”

He gave me a big hug.

When I went into the boat, happy and jumping with my news, I discovered how much the people I work with had been sending me good hopes and wishes for the morning. It was so dear and nearly as good as touching the whales. It was funny to see that it was ‘news’ and to see how quickly said ‘news’ spread. The Chief Mate came down to the crew lounge where I was enjoying breakfast and mouthed “Congratulations” though I had not yet told her. I had hugs and happiness waiting for me back at the Sea Bird.

It was a happy morning. And wonderful closure to the end of my six month contract.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bonita

From my journal…(with just a little spit shine)

January 27

‘Whales. Whales, whales, whales whales whales, oh my goodness whales. Kathy and I went out on the last Zodiacs for whale watching at Mag Bay (Magdelena Bay) this afternoon. We got Jordan for our driver and we got Carlos too. (Carlos is a naturalist on the boat. He is from Baja California.) We had three guests, Darlene from the NY office and the ships Doctor.

We were out for about an hour and a half I guess, me praying praying praying praying to Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit &, why not, asking Mary & St. Francis for their prayer help too that we would touch a whale. We saw several, often quite close but not touchable. We nearly ran into a pair they surfaced so quickly and close. We saw flukes and baby breaches & two swimming pretty much on top of each other. (It was all amazing. It was wonderful to see it from the close perspective, not only distance wise but from where we were on the water as opposed to the usual high up position of the boat.)

And then when we’d been out for almost the whole time we had a mom and calf so close. Kathy and I started splashing because Daisey had told her that this helps. It must. They came closer. Oh. My. Goodness.

We followed them and they us. Baby coming up, head out of the water, I’m hoping he’s curious about us. Mama coming up. Oh my Mama. Soooo much bigger, barnacles on her back. Kathy and I lay on our bellies over the side, splashing and calling( “Don’t forget, these whales speak Spanish.”reminds Carlos. Oh great. Because we know Spanish. Except we don’t) and generally freaking out.

Some of Kathy’s finest;

“Look at you! Stop it! Stop bein so handsome! Look at him! Look at his little nostrils! I don’t know why it’s a he. Sorry guys its just a he. I need you, I love you! You need me too you just don’t know it yet! Oh my goodness his lips!”

Priceless.

We would all move from one side of the boat to the other as necessary. So close, so close…& yet…

Still I prayed.

Up they came. Right beside us, there was Mama. I stuck my hand in- couldn’t reach. Arm, fleece and all, in the water. I feel a hand on my ankle- Carlos making sure these two crazy women don’t fall or jump in.

Kathy touches.

“Oh my goodness! Look at you! You feel like an olive!”

I plunge my face in. She’s so close but I still can’t reach her. When I think of this even now I’m not at all sure how it is possible that I couldn’t touch her. She was RIGHT there, I was at almost the same point in the boat as Kathy, and I have longer arms not to mention my face was in the water. I was a tad concerned that my life jacket was going to inflate as I kept going further in.

At one point I go to plunge my hand further and stop. Her eye is right there in front of me under the water, right where I was going to reach. She’s looking right at me with her big beautiful eye under the water and just right there. Right in front of my face.

I say so later and it makes me cry because I can still hardly believe it and it’s so beautiful. I didn’t get to touch but it was all so beautiful, so very very beautiful.

We could see them as they were right beside the boat, swimming together, baby overlapping Mama, both their flukes and forms visible under the water. We could feel their spray on our faces when they came up for air. And we certainly felt when Mama bumped our Zodiac, perhaps trying to teach us as she would her calf. We could have touched their flukes (tails)- they were right there- but Carlos said not to.

We were so late back to the boat- Kathy and I drenched & laughing. Right before we had forced ourselves to say goodbye, Mama gave a fluke out of the water r I g h t by me, waving us off.

Beautiful, beautiful, bonita. Oh my, bonita.

Thank You Father. Amen.

Afternote-

Kathy and I were a little concerned that our abundant crazy happiness was a liitle much for our fellow zodiac passengers but that night at Fiesta dinner we discovered otherwise. Darlene and the Dr. told us it was so fun, and that we had helped to make it fun (let me just say now that in the main that was Kathy.) People kept commenting to us on things that had been said (namely Kathy’s “I’m never going to wash this hand!” Jordan nudges her. She is Senior stew and serves these people three meals a day. “I mean….I’m going to wash this hand.” Everyone laughs and at dinner they ask her if she washed her hands. One lady asks if I washed my face.) It’s very encouraging to know that we all had a wonderful time.

On our way out to see the whales I asked Carlos why they came to they bay here, why do they approach the boats, why do they let us touch them? I like Carlos. He is an underwater videographer and naturalist and he says I wear pretty earrings. He is a big man who is very sweet. Like a big teddy bear. He is from Mexico but sometimes he looks and sounds to me like he’s Russian.

The answer to my question was that he didn’t know. He said there was still a lot of mystery about whales, and about many things in the natural world, and that he believed this was a good thing. I think so too and I like that he said so.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Feb 10 & 11, Days 10 & 9

February 10 - Day 10

Went to try and kiss a whale today. No avail but still beautiful. One more chance next week. I would write more- it was a good day- but it's late and I'm tired. So more soon.

February 11 - Day 9

Last day of raw food. Good golly we're ready for some bacon. We are tired but we've made it. I'm pretty sure there were bets going on as to whether or not we were because we were offered an awful lot of cookies, cakes and such with much emphasis by individual people. I'm just sayin...

Tonight Paul offered to serve dinner for me which was very nice. He loves it and I think he misses being a stew (he's a deckhand now) and Kathy wanted to work with him. So it was as much fun for him as it was a treat for me. I went up to the lido and had some really nice quiet time, prayer and worship. It was a beautiful night- the whole day has been beautiful in weather, sunshine, colour and now stars. I was so grateful for the unexpected hour and a half of quiet and time with God.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 11- February 9

The food bit is really funny right now. Daisey and I are doing fine- getting a little bored but we are eating enough and we’re full. Not to mention full of energy. I feel so hyper, I can’t really settle down or focus. It’s kind of funny. And I slept well last night which was lovely.

The boys, the boys are cracking us up. Edd, who is not a loud complainer, keeps complaining and today stated that he wasn’t going to stop griping about it the whole time, that he would make it but he wouldn’t stop griping. I said that was fine. They get a little happier when you make them smoothies. Jason just looks sad and his fiance who makes all the desserts on the boat thinks the whole thing is hilarious and he keeps threatening her with hatred just for doing her job.

~
Today was my day off and I spent some time off the boat at Sand Dollar Beach. The beach’s name is, I’m pleased to say, not a misnomer. I saw so many sand dollars just all over! I found one patch, a ways from the ocean, by the entrance to the dunes, that had over 50! We have a no collection policy or I would have brought you all some Christmas ornaments. J

On one side of Sand Dollar Beach is Magdalena Bay and on the other is the Pacific Ocean. In between are fabulous sand dunes that are fun to scale. I found one that had a really steep side that I slid down on my bottom. The sand slid down like water. It was soft, like a big giant dog’s fur, and fine so that when I picked up handfuls of it, I could swish it out easily and it would just fly away on the wind. I did this several times. I also threw it in clumps, as weighty as I could make them where they would still disperse on the breeze without touching the ground. At the bottom of the dune it was quiet and I looked up to see a bright blue sky. The sun was warm, the sky was blue, it was quiet and so I did what any normal person would do and I lay upside down on the dune, so that my head was on the downward slope and I could see the blue sky. This felt quite yummy on my back actually.

After playing at the bottom of this dune, as though I were five, and loving it, I kept walking til I got to the sand dollar patch and after that the ocean. There I saw a ghost crab, 5 pelicans, and a lot of water. It sounded lovely and felt cold on my feet. I did cartwheels and splashed and just walked around. I also sat to watch the waves.

It was a good time but being by myself I thought how fun it would have been if my brothers had been with me on the dunes.

Back at the boat Daisey had saved me a salad and I sat in the crew lounge. Later Tom came in to work on my necklace (yay! Thanks Tom. It has a pretty green twine and a shell we found the whale shark day.) and I read him half of Devan’s “Lucid City” story that I liked so much.

It was good day and yet it’s cluttered with my restless thoughts. 11 days. I hope I get to kiss a whale before I go. I’ll miss these people ( I want to write a post similar to my friend Patricia’s to introduce you to them. I’d already been wanting to and then I saw her do it so now I’m reminded.). I get to do some pretty cool stuff. And yet. I’m ready to go.

February 8 - Day 12

While cleaning rooms this morning I was ‘planning’ which was actually more like Anxiously Going In Circles In My Head about What’s Next. I was thinking about acting, about traveling, about getting off the boat, about where I’m going to land and about how little I know and how much I would like to know. I was thinking about how I didn’t want to be thinking about all of this because I was just circling without getting anywhere. I was thinking about wanting to be in this moment here and now. Mostly I was thinking about acting and Next and MasterWorks.

There were whales about us, humpbacks, fluking and surfacing. Every now and again I’d stop making a bed or spraying Lysol and jump out to watch a minute. I had much to do, it was sheet change day, early lunch, breakfast ran late and I still had to vacuum so I didn’t linger like I might have but I still watched every now and again. At breakfast I had screeched as mealtime began because right outside the Port side window I saw a fluke and it glittered beautifully all around the edges in the bright morning light.

Stepping out of room 105 to look for whales one of the guests, a man from Manhattan, came to let me know they were out of washcloths. We were waiting for a new load that afternoon so I hadn’t been able to replenish yet. He was understanding about it and started talking with me as we both looked over the railing for whales. I had introduced his room and he and his wife, Marilyn, had cracked me up with their New York banter. They are a friendly couple and I enjoyed meeting them.

“Two more weeks huh? And what will you do next?” John asks me.

“Well I know I want to act, but I have to figure out where I’m going to land.”

“You want to act. That’s a hard life.”

I know. Thus the circles in my head. I feel like a consistent plan and schedule as an actor is about as feasible as nailing sand to the ground.

“I know. But it’s what I love. It’s what I’m good at. It’s what I need to do.”

“You know you can do a lot of things and act. You can be a CEO,” this next is whispered out of the corner of his mouth, “or a politician.”

I chuckle at this. That’s true.

“I want to tell stories. I want to tell good stories.”

At this John begins to talk about the importance of stories and of fairy tales. He is apparently a psychologist and tells me of a book that talks about how fairy tales are important for children because they talk about life, about things that they will one day have to face, in a way that they can grasp, in a way that isn’t blatant, crass, or over the head. He tells about patients that he’s dealt with in a hospital who had problems with impulse control. And how they had been told all of their lives “Just don’t do this. Don’t behave that way. This is bad.” And they hear it, comprehend it, know it, but don’t implement it. So he tells them a story, the story of The Tortoise and the Hare by Aesop. And how the Tortoise plods along while the Hare blasts away and then takes a rest because he feels he doesn’t have to work so hard when he will obviously win the race. And how the Tortoise just keeps plodding, passes up the sleeping Hare and ultimately wins the race.

“Slow and steady wins the race”

John said that after this story some of his patients would stop having problems with impulse control in the hospital. He didn’t know that this particular story was in itself a good reminder for me as I often get so frustrated at my pace versus the pace of other stewards. But that’s besides the point. After sharing this with me he says,

“So when you say that you want to tell stories, I say more power to you.” Because stories are important he says, and you could help someone to see something, he says.

I smile and I say thank you. It feels like a moment of, a conversation of grace, and I am thankful for it. And if this tortoise hadn’t been at the pace she was on her rooms, the conversation wouldn’t have happened.

Monday, February 7, 2011

February 7 - Day 13 - Food on the National Geographic SeaBird

In my life I generally have a problem with eating too much, too often, the wrong things for the wrong reasons. Sometimes the reason is because I love the food which in itself isn’t a wrong reason but when you eat past the point of enjoyment or when you aren’t hungry or when you’ve already had enough it is the wrong reason. There is definitely such a thing as too much of a good thing. While it doesn’t always last I have gone through lengthy periods where I can give up say sugar and white flour. If I set my mind and will to this, if I plan for it I can accomplish it for quite a long time.

The boat is different.

I have a hard enough time off the boat but on it? Crew food is usually what is left over (a lot) from the vacation style meals we serve guests. So there is a lot of good food around a lot of the time. Nearly everyday you’ll find fresh baked cookies or some kind of decadent dinner time dessert not to mention croissaints, scones and fresh baked muffins in the morning and La Fuertes ice cream in the freezer. It is ridiculous. And since you’re working so much the temptation to use yummy treats as your stress relief is huge. We eat buffet style and together (the together is good!) so portion control is also rather difficult as is planning your own meals.

On my own I can, as I said, give up sugar and flour for extended periods of time. On the boat I often go to bed thinking “really. You have to do better tomorrow. You CAN do better tomorrow. This week! This month! The rest of your contract! You’re surrounded by good HEALTHY food too and you’ve done this before. C’mon girl! You can do this.”

And then lunch time rolls around and I’m grumpy from making 16 beds, cleaning 8 heads, and serving two meals before 2:00 so when the fresh and well made chocolate chip cookies, or peanut butter cookies, or chocolate Chambord tart, or ice cream sundae bar with hot caramel and toasted coconut, or crème brulee come out my resolve is gone and so are four cookies.

~

I am not the only person with this problem. Most stewards gain weight during their contract. Most of us talk about food a lot, about everything I’ve said here. Most of us try giving things up and fail. Sometimes we don’t.(By this I mean both ’fail’ and ’give up.) Daisey and Edd have been going without desserts for about 10 days now. I was with them for about two and then I got super grumpy at dinner and said “screw it!” as I forcefully attacked a chocolate Chambord with a spoon. I wasn’t grumpy anymore but I’m pretty sure I ate two more things after that and went to bed with a tummy ache. Before that I went 10 days without sugar, my longest stint on the boat, and that was good. Anyway, tonight while polishing silverware they were talking about it, and we were talking about it, and Jason- the bartender- came and was talking about it. The three of them decided to go raw foods for the next four days and after a moment of uncertainty I decided to join too. So - four days. I’m excited. It’s much better to do it with people. Tomorrow should be interesting. J

February 6, Day 14

Today I got off of the boat with Edd, Daisey and Marc (newish stew. Jackie’s replacement but has worked on the boat before.) at Isle Danzante which I just learned means ‘dancers’ and we took a two and half hour walk along to coastline. This wasn’t a straight and easy beach walk mind you, it was rocky, pebbly, barnacley, etc. It was so good to get off of the boat and to walk and climb. We saw some beautiful beaches and Edd- whom we called our EL (expedition leader)- showed us a cave he had discovered a bit ago. The water was a beautiful color. We saw two ospreys and I got stabbed by a plant. And now it’s very much time for bed.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

February 4 & 5 - Days 16 & 15

So I’m writing for this day on the fifth and I can’t for the life of me remember what to write about yesterday. Perhaps because tonight is so full of today which is not a bad thing. Yesterday was Jackie’s last full day of her six month contract. We got on within a week of one another so she has been here for my full contract and we’ve been through the ups, downs, crazy and happy with each other. Jackie is my room mate and also a fellow artist so our reasons for being here were similar and so were many of the frustrations we had in being here. We are very different people, Jackie and I, and we didn’t really get to know each other until a positioning trip where we were roommates in an upstairs cabin and both seasick and thus stuck with each other. I’m really grateful for that trip. We talked, and laughed, felt nauseas, read. And do you know what’s really great? That was supposed to happen. When we got to our room Jackie couldn’t find her Ipod anywhere and couldn’t figure out why or to where it had disappeared. Later it was easily found among her things. If the ‘seashells’ had turned up earlier, I don’t think we would have spent the time together like we did.

Anyway, Jax has been looking forward to getting off pretty much since she got on and yesterday and today were a good thing for her. I’ll miss my friend and I’m grateful that today (Feb 5) I got to get off of the boat and spend some time with her. We had ice cream and reminisced. The initial rule was no talk about work but then we realized that our entire experience with one another had to do with ‘work’ so we changed the rule to no negative talk about work and went over things we enjoyed about the past six months while enjoying La Fuertes ice creams by the polka dotted tree. Later we met up with Lucy, one of our chief mates, and sat on the balcony at their hotel with guacamole, tacos, soup and something yummy of which we aren’t sure what it was. The sunshine was lovely and so was the company, conversation and food. Though we’ve worked with Lucy on and off for the past six months, neither of us knew her very well and in an hour we learned more than we had in six months. I suppose that’s only partly true. We’ve learned things about her character, her personality, how she works (she’s an awesome Chief Mate), etc. We have in essence seen her in action. But you can watch someone, be with someone, and still miss a lot of them. The boat can be funny like that. We’re all together all the time and know quite a bit about each other, but there is quite a lot we don’t know, quite a lot that is happening right in this space that you aren’t even aware of. We’re together but mostly we’re working, or on crazy schedules and so we miss things. So moments over guacamole, moments when a hotel manager makes a special effort and makes it possible to have a ‘family’ meal together, moments when you go out with someone in a kayak or on a hike, when you get stuck seasick in a cabin together, these are good, precious and a time to learn more about someone. Today I learned that Lucy loves to play classical piano and that she is good at it. In all of six months I never knew that and yet it’s a big part of who she is. But not on the boat. Funny little ship world this.

So Jax is gone. I missed her when Kathy softly played the banjo in the corner of the dining room tonight. She bought it off of Jackie before she left today. At the beginning of dinner service there was a moment of empty because you could tell she was gone. I'm glad for her that she's done and she can get on with her tour, with seeing her adorable nephew. Yay Jackie! Six months!

And in two weeks...that's me.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Countdown continues - Days 19, 18, 17 Feb 1, 2, 3

Day 19 - Feb 1

It was a late galley rnorning and I didn’t go on the early whale watching boat because last time it was cold and foggy and we didn’t get very close. It was very cool but I thought sleeping in sounded good since I’d been on two boats the day previous. Mistake.

Daisey and Ian went and the morning was perfectly clear and beautiful and they touched and kissed whales. So jealous. The boats also came across the nursery/play date we had seen the day before AND we even had a Mama and calf come very close to the SeaBird in the morning. I had my arms full of produce and was walking down toward the bow to see them waving their flukes and rolling in the water. It’s always cool.

Also missed bow riding dolphins in the bioluminescence. It was the day of missing things I suppose.

However I was taking a nap - galley duty will do that to you- and heard squeaking which meant dolphins and I did get to go see them. This also doesn’t stop being cool and the fact that I can know they’re there because I can hear them in my bed makes me smile.

Day 18 - Feb 2

At lunchtime Captain Kay had a crew meeting to tell us that the weather was going to be, “Well there’s no pretty way to say it, it’s going to be shitty and then it’s going to get worse.” I love Captain Kay.

And he was right.

It was the worst that I have experienced it on this boat, and on positioning trips we’ve had it pretty bad. Of course, it may have felt worse than those times for the fact that on positioning we don’t have guests and I can go lay down. This time I was in the galley, working. Oh. My. Goodness. I could not wait for it to be over and I am not sure how we got through it. My fellow stews laughed when I came through the double doors of the galley, pale and not ready to talk to anyone. They were proud of me for making it and I wasn’t so far gone that I couldn’t appreciate their laughter at my state.

Hardly anyone came to dinner, guests were freaking out in the companionways because that is of course very helpful, some slept in the dining room, those of us in the focsle were reassigned to rooms not on the bow of the boat. Sleep wasn’t really sleep and getting up this morning we found the boat in an interesting state to say the least. Actually things weren’t nearly as bad as they could have been because our trusty deck force did an excellent job of buttoning things done and securing near everything. When I came up at 5:30 am to start galley work there were guests in the dining room asleep, tops of settees were off and bags of coffee lay on the floor, tables had toppled over. There were a few things on the galley floor but not much. Then I opened up the back reefer and out came the tuna fish, a cheesecake and some garlic. The cheesecake was, thank goodness, salvageable but the tuna got into the cracks of the galley mat so my first line of work had nothing to do with what I should have been getting done. What a crazy morning! I was in good spirits though, and so were most. The boat was no longer moving and Captain said we were staying put for 24 hours. Hallelujah!

Day 17 - Feb 3

Was reminded inadvertently by my bro today to take time and be still with God. So I got off of face book, off of Baptop and took a minute out on the fantail. It’s been cold, not chilly but cold, most of today but there was a nook of sunshine that felt yummy on my face and I was able to sit and be quiet. The water here is beautiful turquoise blue, it’s one of the first beaches that we came to in Baja. As I sat and reminded myself that I didn’t have to DO anything, didn’t have to speak anything, that it was good to be still and know He is God the rest of that psalm came to my mind and was interesting in light of last night. It’s one of my favourite psalms.

God is our refuge and strength

An ever present help in times of trouble

Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way

Though the mountains crumble into the heart of the sea

Though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God

The holy place where the most high dwells. God is with her, she will not fall

God will help her at break of day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 20, January 31

Okay so I think my countdown number were slightly off so we’re recalibrating today with

Day 20, January 31. I’m disappointed that I don’t have the other days written here because I was enjoying the consistency but ah well. I’ve been tired at bedtime and up early so it is what it is.

Jan 28 I woke up early to go out and see whales again. It wasn’t nearly as wonderful as the night before with Kathy (ohmigoodness. ) but we still did see them. Afterward I worked all day in the galley.

Jan 29- turn day. Yucky. Worked 15 hours straight. Yucky. But learned from Captain that the amazing trip we had had was indeed spectacular and the best we can hope to see out here. And the grey whales aren’t usually as active and friendly, the weather isn’t usually as good as it was this week in Mag bay. We were very fortunate and it’s good to know.

Jan 30- Galley day. I’m the galley stew this week and working in the galley wasn’t as bad as I’d been dreading. Dishes galore and the wonderful end of day smell of stagnant dishwater. Ended the day with some good quiet time on the lido deck. While praying I thought of my resentful angry attitude yesterday with my fellow stews because they get their work done so much faster than me. I confessed this and prayed for forgiveness and then felt prompted to think of something in each of the stewards that I was grateful for. It was very good.

Bringing us to today…

Jan 31, Day 20, Day off.

Woke early to go watch the sunrise on the bow but it was SOOO windy and cold that I went back to bed. For three hours. Wow. Felt pretty rested when I did get up though.

Captain put together a crew boat for us for whale watching and I went out on both. I am so determined to actually touch one of these beautiful creatures. Second round we saw five mama and calf pairs at the same time and one fluked right by our boat. It makes me so happy to see them. They are amazing.

I want to write about the whales- grey whales- well soon.