7 weeks 3 days
A Walk in the Dark – Day 56, 8/29/2009
Submitted by Doug LaVigne on Sun, 08/30/2009 - 00:18
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...