Chris Harvey, June 17, 2006

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Chris Harvey
Onboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette
June 5 – July 4, 2006

Mission: Lobster Survey
Geographical Area: Central Pacific Ocean, Hawaii
Date: June 17, 2006

Science and Technology Log  

I just woke up from a wonderful 2-hour nap, reminding myself of something I have meant to write about for days but have forgotten. Since the swells have come along, the ship bounces around quiet a bit at night, making sleep difficult if not entirely impossible at times. So I have modified my sleeping patterns somewhat to adjust to the situation.

I take a short nap immediately after work, whether at 1:30 or at 6:30 (short to me is anywhere between 1-3 hours). This is the only sleep that I can guarantee myself that day, so I cherish the fact that my stateroom has no windows and thus can become completely dark and the fact that after work I know I will be entirely exhausted. (I think back now to how excited I was on my first night into Honolulu when Bob told me I would be working, not observing. What a fool I was!) I usually wake up just in time for a quick bite for dinner and then I make my way outside to enjoy the last remaining hours of daylight. Once the sun has set, I either take my laptop up to the bridge and sit out on the side deck where there is no obstruction to the star-filled sky, or I return inside and write if the clouds cover up the stars. Either way, I have been spending a good but of my time in writing inspired by the scenery around me. I write until I am once again completely exhausted (the only guarantee for sleep), which is usually around 11:30 or midnight, and I head back to bed for a few hours until it is time to get up for work again.

Having just awakened from my nap, I have a whole new day in front of me- one that requires no work from me! So I will begin this new day by telling you about a book I have just finished reading upon the recommendation of Huntley, a well-read traveler. I do this because nothing much happened today worth describing- although it has been confirmed that the NWHI are now the largest marine sanctuary in the United States, and that our mission is not so much invalidated, but will be used for other purposes. NOAA will still be in charge of the area on the federal level, so our data on lobster catch will take on meaning in a different way. Also, Amee said, “please” today for the first time on the cruise. So my inferences are correct, she is not of royal English ancestry. Go figure!

Back to “The Little Prince.” If you can read French, buy the book in French. I am sure that a lot of meaning is “lost in translation” (which is also a good movie by the way). But if you are like me, an English-only reader, then you can still enjoy the book for its simplicity. The author, Antoine de Saint- Exupery, speaks to us as an adult who encourages us to keep a child’s perspective in life for all of the naiveté and simplicity doing so would retain. It would not surprise many of you to know this is a chief goal of mine (inherited through my Peter Pan of a father, to the chagrin of my mother! Thanks Dad!), though I often try to imitate the wisdom of the sage- making a wonderful fool of myself in the long run. By the end of the story I was left with moistened eyes (tears fall infrequently from my eyes), and the feeling that it was time to create Something Beautiful.

So I am in attempts now to create the first of (hopefully) many Beautiful things in my life. I have an idea for a children’s story that came to me suddenly, with such great passion that I probably irritated Bob by my slowness in work today. I tried clinging to each new thought I had, as if it were my last, in hopes that each thought that came my way was some integral piece of that Something Beautiful (Incidentally, the story has a working title of “Something Beautiful.”) As it turns out, in looking back after a refreshing nap, the thoughts I have recorded do not seem as full of potential as they did before. But maybe that is because the stars are still waiting for someone to turn out the light tonight, so they can have their way with my heart. On the surface, I am still a scientist/resident Teacher At Sea with scientific obligations to achieve. But in my heart, I am a man on a journey to become the artist he believes himself to be, willing to take in every experience as a piece of the story that will mean the most to him- the Story of His Life.

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

– The Fox from “The Little Prince”