Sixty Days at Sea: Day 19 – Pandemic Perspectives

Ethan Petrou

This post was written by JR scientist Ethan Petrou. Ethan is currently in the fourth year of his PhD program at Oxford University. He is the graduate student body president for University College Oxford. In his spare time he sings baritone in the college chapel choir and enjoys traveling around the world. This is our second excerpt from his daily journal “Sixty Days at Sea” (you can read the first here).

The days in port are slowly melting into one just as all perfect summers do. The sun rises and the sun sets just as it has a thousand times before, with a brightness that makes you squint, heating the metal of the boat so it’s hot to the touch. Everyday is much the same, where the passage of time in port is marked only by meals and meet-ups. People flow around the boat from one group to another, never bidding farewell to each other as more than not you’ll bump into them again a few hours later. It’s a transient lifestyle of no beginnings or ends: just existing. For ten days this state will perpetuate whilst we wait for all those infected to recover from the crowned beast. Everyday testing is our only chance to monitor the situation and stop this epidemic so we can head out to sea once more. 

It’s not all bad though. This unexpected ten-day respite has allowed for an extended period of introspection, solemnity and a puritan lifestyle. With little to no connection to the internet, and no interaction with shore, my world has reduced to 140 meters of painted metal, where the only change of stimulus is the position of clouds on Table Mountain. I make sure to take time out of my day to view the interaction of sun behind the mountain as the light takes its final dance across the night stage. The lack of distractions allows one to focus in on environmental phenomena that we take for granted in city life: a radiant sunset, birds catching the wind, the stars of an inky night sky. 

In addition, with cooking and cleaning taken care of, the ample, ripe time has allowed me to focus on subjects almost foreign in my daily Oxford life: I read books for pleasure and write my thoughts in ink. Do yoga to the rising sun, water-colour paint the shifting seas, and languorously sun-bathe up on our top “steel beach” deck. I sing psalms and anthems with the accompaniment of lapping waves, and talk with friends without the ticking of the day’s ceaseless clock. I’m effectively on a marine themed reading retreat. 

The sun rises and the sun sets, another day in our short covid detour. Cores, science, and sea all await eventually, and now it’s one day less till our departure and zenith.

Maya Pincus
Maya is a science communicator in every sense of the word. When she is not at sea, she is at home in Brooklyn teaching Earth Science to high school students. In her free time she likes to hike, run, and climb whatever rocks are around.
More articles by: Maya Pincus

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