A Walk in the Dark – Day 56, 8/29/2009

When I was up late the other night for my video conferences with my classes back at South Cobb in Austell, Georgia, I took a break and decided to take a walk outside. I would have loved to have seen the sky, but with the clouds the sky was not visible. It is not advised to go onto the catwalks by yourself at any time, and figuring it wasn't a good idea to go anywhere in the dark alone, Kelsie Dadd, Beth Caissie and I decided to walk to the bow of the ship together. Beyond the lights of the hatch from the forecastle deck, it was pitch black. Very scary. Kelsie decided to opt out of the excursion early.

Beth walked ahead of me into the darkness and I grabbed a hold of the hood on her sweatshirt before she disappeared into the black. She would stop every few steps and say "Did you go back? Are you still there?" I had to reassure her a few times.

The wind was whipping at us, and eventually I moved closer so we could lock arms. The only thing that gave us perspective on the horizon was the faint white of the breaking waves all around us...

We inched our way forward and eventually made it to the bow. We sat there for probably 10 minutes, but it seemed like forever. It was beautiful darkness, and slowly our eyes adjusted to low light.

I thought we were seeing moonlight in the sky, but actually we were seeing the lights on the drill floor and derrick reflected off of the clouds!

Beth pointed out the black shadow of the derrick high in the sky. It looked like lightening was flashing high above us every now and then as well. Not sure if it was some strobe behind us, or actual lightening. We were close to the Russian part of the Aleutian Islands, so I suppose it could have been storm weather in the distance.

All lights on the bow are extinguished at night. The crew makes everyone close the blinds in the lab stack. Apparently even the faintest of lights from that direction ruins the night vision of whoever is on the bridge watching the sea at night. I hear it can take an hour (or hours?) to fully adjust your site, and even a second of light flashing to require a do over. In the brief time we were there our vision came alive. We could see clearly after a time, and it made our earlier slow walk forward seem absurd.

Eventually we made our way back. It was well worth the time it took and being awake in the middle of the night, and I think I'll try to do that at least once more before we hit port...


Jana' Dorsett--3rd Block--1039071

Your blog is very interesting and well put together. Ever thought about writing a book,and perhaps becoming an author?

Iggy Pop song

Hi Doug Doug,

Sooo, did you have the Iggy Pop song "Starry Night" in your head as you walked out? Probably not, given the cloud cover... It's a song on the same album that has "Candy," the duet of Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson of the B-52s, came out in early 90s, I think...

Also, have you gifted your fellow shipmates with your guitar and vocal abilities? If not, maybe a ship jam session is in order, just to see if you can pull the other musicians out to play! ;-)

Best regards, Brian

Marika Rosser 4th block

It was pretty cool talking to you on the web cam except for the all the breaks up. When you say it was really do you mean like you all couldnt not see each other eyes. Is it bad for you to come from light , then go into complete darkest and back to light again?

From Beth

Beth had this to say about my retelling of our experience, and I thought it was worth sharing:


I really thought that you had fallen overboard repeatedly! You forgot the most magical parts---in complete darkness the white caps are intermittently illuminated by the dim light so there are white flashes out in the darkness but we had no frame of reference for up/down/water/sky/etc. Every once in a while a gull would fly by otherwise we could only hear them out there. And then as our eyes slowly adjusted the derrick began to loom huge in front of us as a shadow on the fog in front of the ship.

Mom--don't worry the ship has large sides, although there are those large anchor holes that really are big enough to slip through...we're in warmer water now anyway :)

Darkest nights and brightest stars

You don't realize how much ambient light is around us all the time until you get out to sea. I've only been as far as the Dry Tortugas in the Gulf of Mexico and the night sky was amazing. It looked like a constellation box made by a very enthusiastic kid. Hope you get a clear night before you get close to land again.


Dark *Clear* Night

I hope we get one too. It isn't promising with the overcast and rainy weather we've got today though.

Interesting stuff Doug.

Interesting stuff Doug. Thinking of you getting home soon. Wondering how odd it will be for you when you get home, sea legs, fast food, etc.