Rough Days…

There is an aspect of spending time at sea that lends itself to an unusual sort of loneliness. It’s strange, you’re surrounded by people yet you feel this twinge of being alone.

Deployments on a submarine are where I’ve felt it the most. Surrounded by 130 souls and sometimes it feels like you might as well be out there by yourself. Here, it’s a bit different. The four of us have grown closer and bonded over shared triumphs, toasts to victory and defeat. We tell life stories, we solve problems giving the celebratory high five after success. Living in close quarters, you grow close quickly. We are lucky to have such a great crew. One person who doesn’t get along or has a negative attitude can throw off the entire vibe. Nevertheless you miss home, friends, family, etc. It seems to intensify about half way through the journey.

Today I was a bit out of sorts. Wasn’t feeling myself. I’ve spent enough time at sea to know it was just a bit of a mental slump with some loneliness in there and didn’t allow myself to get too wrapped up in it or make poor offhanded comments that could affect the rest of the crew. They noticed though, it’s impossible not to. The best thing I’ve learned to do is accept it, try to work through it and understand it for what it is; just you mentally coping with a long term stressful situation.

This isn’t fun like going to the amusement park. This isn’t enjoyable like dinner at Applebee’s (am I right Ryder?!). There are moments where those emotions emerge, but overall there is stress to cope with. There are problems to solve. There is a constant state of potential danger that exists. We aren’t sitting on the sun deck getting served Pineapple Juice and Rum while getting our feet massaged.

We are changing sail configurations at 3am on a pitching foredeck. No one has showered in 12 days. We are eating dehydrated meals, nuts, bars and peanut butter and jelly. We are having hard conversations about pending weather patterns and the right course to steer to make landfall. We are managing interpersonal relationships in an environment filled with stress and the unknown; constantly changing variables. We are living, cooking, cleaning, sleeping and generally existing within a 10 x 15 foot space.

Today we passed south of 30 degrees North. We are, quite literally, 1000 nautical miles from civilization. That’s about the same as standing in Seattle and having EMTs, the Fire Department, tow truck, etc somewhere around Minneapolis. We are on our own. The danger is real. There is no help around the corner. The USCG range is about 500 nautical miles from land.

This is a challenge. And it helps to recognize that. To embrace it for what it is. To mentally acknowledge that what we are doing isn’t easy, but in the end will be an achievement and totally worth it. In the end, nothing worthwhile comes easy.

Even though it sounds like we are gluttons for punishment and I might be coming across a bit dramatic; we knew this what we were getting into. We wanted to test ourselves, the ship – against the Pacific. We set out to do exactly what we are accomplishing. THAT is why we are doing this, not because it’s “fun”.

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Until then…Stay Gold

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