15 September 07

At long last: A Blue Sky

We are now steaming south in the Sea of Japan. Yesterday at noon we took one engine off line and reduced the load on the other so we are moving at the glacial pace of 9kts (10mph) to allow typhoon Nari to get ahead of us before we make our turn around the southern end of the Korean peninsula. For two weeks we rolled along across the gray north Pacific dodging storms as they rolled one by one off of Asia, then a day and a half ago as we approached Japan and entered Tsugaru Kaikyo (the straits between Hokkaido and Honshu) the weather finally broke and we saw blue sky for the fist time since leaving the bay, but it didn't last long. Suddenly this typhoon popped up almost out of no where and is on a collision course with us. One of the things I like about going to sea is the necessity to yield to nature. We can't beat the waves, swell or the wind, we must watch them and react, we must study them and try to predict them but our predictions are rarely perfect. In my view of the universe and how we fit-in, it is reassuring to know that try as we might with all the technology permeating everything today we must still give way to Mother Nature.

Jack London is quoted as saying something like "Of all the creatures upon land and sea it is ships alone that cannot be taken on barren pretenses, that will not put up with bad art from their master". We can not blindly plow our way through the vast oceans expecting that the tens of thousands of tons of steel we ride upon will conquer anything it encounters. Sitting at the dock a ship seems like a massive beast, it dwarfs the human scale; this ship with her cargo weighs 42,000 tons which is small by ship standards, and yet upon the ocean it is but a speck of dust. We forget about the size of the world; email and telephones help disguise this vast planet but aboard the Moku Pahu it took us 135 days to crawl around the middle of the planet and it is taking us 20 days to transit the Pacific en route from San Francisco to Inch'on South Korea.

The face the North Pacific has shown for two weeks: (Click image for hi-resolution version 2.46MB .jpg)

The Moku Pahu in gray North Pacific