15 September, 2005

The view from the back several hours after we left.

There were still parts of Japan visible.

For months I had seen this name on a piece of paper. And now here it was for real.

No matter what angle you're at, the cargo is what it's all about.

One of the many instruction panels on this boat for people who know what they're doing.

This is the officers' recreation room where videos and books can be found. In addition, the captain would print out the news once a day and leave it here for us to read.

The video collection could be found in this cabinet. You could view them here or in your room.

A commemoration of the Pusan Senator's maiden voyage.

This was what the sea looked like as the day reached an end.

And this was part of the den outside my room.

15 September, 2005

Day 61. I woke to the sound of a phone ringing in the distance. As I slowly came to, I started to realize that I must have slept too long. That only happens when I'm really sleep deprived. Luckily Ben knew that I had to be awake and kept the phone ringing until I responded. I had to hurry to get to our inaugural breakfast and "Off The Hook" would be beginning in about a half hour.

There was nothing at all formal about breakfast, that's for sure. Basically there are four tables set up with four chairs each. Usually there's only one or two people in the room at any particular time. People eat fairly quickly and go back to whatever it was they were doing. The captain came in and we chatted with him for a little bit. The kitchen staff is from the Philippines and Kiribati while the officers are all German except for one Russian.

I didn't feel right running out in the middle of our conversation with the captain so I called in to the show a few minutes late using the satellite phone. Ben and I found a fairly open part of one of the decks so that we could have a pretty good view of the satellites. Because the satellites move, it pays to have as much open sky as possible. The problem with the open sky was the wind which became strong enough to hold you up if you leaned into it. And that didn't sound good on the radio so I moved to a more protected area and almost instantly lost the signal. I can't say any of this surprised me.

I knew this would be a show that I probably wouldn't be able to participate in fully. Those are the breaks when you're on a freighter in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Which by the way I'm not. We were still passing parts of Japan when I was on the air so we've got quite a ways to go before I can truthfully say we're in the middle of the ocean. But there is a whole hell of a lot of water around us. There's another boat I can see way off to the south. I don't know if they're going along the same route or if they're going to break away at some point. It's a little reassuring to see them though. I wonder if we'll see anyone else.

Tonight we're supposed to set our clocks ahead an hour. At last. It was in Mongolia that I first entered this time zone although I left it again while in China only to reenter it in Japan. Now at last it would be changing. It's good to feel like I'm making real eastward progress.

There are a couple of special things that happen on Thursdays. There's some kind of a reception in the officers' recreation room in the afternoon and self service cold cuts for dinner. The latter really does seem like something people look forward to based on the way it was told to us. This reception though proved to be somewhat of a mystery. Ben and I got there at 3:00 like we were told and found a couple of boxes of cookies and a thermos of coffee with two cups. Like I said, they're not very formal around here. We waited for a while to see if anyone else might show up but nobody did. In any event we hung out there for an hour or so looking at the various videos and DVDs they had in their collection. Ben has some movies on his laptop which will probably help to pass the time. The ones in the recreation room are pretty much all in German which isn't a problem with DVDs which almost always have subtitles. But the videos are dubbed and there's no subtitle track so our selection is pretty limited. But again, nothing I wasn't expecting.

I welcome the opportunity to just sit back and not have to think about doing anything. I don't think I've really had that freedom on this entire voyage. Now I'm going to have an awful lot of it.

The day really went by fast and before I knew it it was dark. It was pretty choppy so I didn't really feel like going to bed. I stayed up for a while reading, writing, and listening to some of the radio shows that were done while I was away. It's good to hear voices from home even if they are voices from home in the past.

I wound up grabbing one of the few non-German videotapes and having a snack consisting of my last Japanese convenience store seaweed wrap. Damn, I missed that place. The movie I saw, "Six Days and Seven Nights," was something I wish I *had* missed. It was formulaic enough to have been written by a computer. Still, it's cool to be able to just run up a flight of stairs and grab a video and see it in the comfort of my own little suite in the Pacific Ocean. Now hopefully all of this pitching will end soon so I can get to sleep without being bounced around.