DEPARTURE AND THE FIRST 24 HOURS AT SEA

by Melanie Duchin

January 29, 2007

The Esperanza leaving Auckland - the crowds wave goodbyeWe’ve now been at sea for a little over 24 hours. We departed Auckland yesterday and it was quite emotional. My eyes welled up with tears and I was a bit embarrassed by it, but then I looked around and realized I wasn’t the only one without dry eyes. We had quite the nice crowd on the dock to wave us off, including the folks from the Greenpeace office in Auckland and some folks from the land-based campaign team who have been working hard to get the on-board campaign team prepared and ready for the expedition.

I had one quick flash of terror as the stern of the ship started to push away from the dock. I realized I would not be able to get off the ship for the next long while, which is different from other expeditions I’ve been on. Even on Greenpeace ships in remote parts of Alaska or Greenland, I always knew I had a way to get off the ship since there was always a small community within a few days’ sailing. That’s not the case in Antarctica. It’s not that I’ve ever wanted or needed to get off a GP ship, it’s just that psychologically, it’s comforting to know that I have a way out and can push the emergency escape button, just in case. In case of what, I have no idea. It’s just a security blanket type of thing. I always like to know that I have a way out of the situation I’m in, regardless of what or where it is.

We are still sailing under sunny skies and warm temperatures. It’s cooled down a bit since we left Auckland, mainly because there is a refreshing sea breeze circulating through the ship. It was sweltering hot and muggy in Auckland so it’s a nice change. Uh oh, was that me complaining about the heat? Given it was 20 below zero Fahrenheit when I left Anchorage, I should shut my mouth and not complain about the hot summer weather in Auckland.

A comet was visible in the western sky last night. The last time I saw a comet was Hale-Bopp about 12 years ago, so I take last night’s comet sighting as an omen.

We are still hugging the coast of New Zealand so the seas are not bad at all. Things are starting to pick up gradually but it’s not gotten to the point where I have to retreat to my bunk. From what I have heard, we will have another night of decent sleep before getting to the Southern Ocean, and that’s when things will really start to move. I’ve decided that I’m going to go for as long as I can without taking seasickness medicine. I’m hoping my body can adjust to the gradual increase in the ship’s movement. If I drop out of sight for some time then you can assume that my strategy didn’t work.

With that, I’m going to end for today and quit staring at this computer screen. It’s a beautiful, sunny Saturday at sea and I’m willing to bet we won’t have another Saturday afternoon like this one for quite some time.

Melanie

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