Ten days at sea


With ten days at sea came an anticipation and expectation of a life outside of the norm. I wanted it to be a detox from the everyday life. I hoped to find time to contemplate and think and be in silence for just a moment--with nowhere to be. Set mealtimes changed that. And so did the novelty of the whole experience. I was conflicted. I wanted to talk to the crew and the officers, to appear friendly, and to learn and experience the culture aboard a ship. But this was also my time to muse before being thrown into the madness that Tokyo is sure to be.

Though we fall into a routine, the rocking of the boat and the view from the window of the freighter, with its colorful containers making their way boldly to an ever-moving horizon, is a constant reminder that we are in the middle of the Pacific with no land in sight. The oceans grow worse-tempered come fall. Our activity during the days and nights are intertwined with its moods. We sit outside, play ping pong, read, write and eat full meals when the waves are gentle. And on those other days when the ship has no other choice but to bend to the swell of the ocean and the force of the gales, we struggle to stay awake, force ourselves to eat a bit so as to not be nauseated, distract ourselves with movies to escape the rattling of the doors, and lie malleably in bed, letting the ocean rock us to sleep.

The routine of everyday has welcome breaks--an evening visit to the bridge and a much awaited invitation to descend into the engine room. The visit to the bridge is kind of magical. This is where it all happens, and we are welcome to visit anytime except during maneuvers. The lights come on as the sky goes darker, the radio speaks in tongues, and we chat with the officer about his work and his life back in Poland. The excursion to the engine room is more grounding--this is where it really happens. On the bridge, the ship just seemed to move as if it required no effort, whereas in the engine room one is shaken by the roars of the beast at work, its constant hunger needing to be satiated by a customary half a glass of tar oil with every push of the piston.

And in ten days there is that one perfect day. The sea is content just lapping up gently against the ship, like they are friends again. As if that fight that we had watched between them that other night was just another trivial event--the ocean had forgotten that it was feeling just a little bit taken advantage of, and instead was enjoying the company of its friend who had come to visit. A gentle and warm breeze blows. Geography has been navigated and we are in warmer climes. Sunlight skims the top of the water depending on the mood of the clouds that hang in the sky--billowy and huge. The cup of tea, the sound of inspired fingers tapping at the keyboard, the presence of a loved one in one's peripheral vision and then that slightly imperfect smell of exhaust, make this a perfect moment.


Perfect day


I like that picture of Anirvan ... trying to imagine the different moods on board. Thinking of how it takes such an effort to get things across the world, something we hardly realise when we pick up something in a store, reminds me of how we take for granted our vegetables. I tried growing some carrots and cauliflower in my kitchen garden earlier this year and it took months to get something out of the ground. The effort and time taken to grow is forgotten by the time your food is cooked and eaten :)
have a great time the rest of the way. I'll follow you'll around, quietly

How does one find a cargo ship to travel with?

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About us...

We're a landscape architect (Barnali) and tech geek (Anirvan) from San Francisco spending a year trying to travel across continents aviation-free while talking to people exploring solutions to transportation and the climate crisis.

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