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You are here: /main/research/NOWRAMP 2002/journals/heart of nature/


Ship Logs

The Heart of Nature
Written by Carlos Eyles
Underwater Photography by Jim Watt
September 27, 2002

We are underway when I wake for probably the tenth time through the course of the night. The Rapture pulled anchor at 9pm and it was a long and bumpy night, with eight foot seas on the beam, rolling the boat sideways, with the occasional body slam, to make sure someone didn't drift off to sleep by accident. It was the first time in a week we had to sleep while underway; I dare say few found a full night's slumber. When I make my way down to the salon for breakfast at 7:30 am, which is served from 7am to 8am, no one is there, save for Doc Overlock. Everyone is in bed. Breakfast will wait and I head for the bow, some people read a newspaper to find out what happened yesterday; I try and read the weather to find out what will happen today. It is another gray dawn. I fear that we will be following this morbid weather front clear back to Honolulu. A four foot swell is running from the northeast, but the wind is due east coming hard at 25 knots. There is a grave dark welling in the sky, the kind that if you are in the comfort of your home you might marvel at, but out here, it will seize your breath. Squall lines hover like grand ships sinking from a liquid sky. Streaks of light like diffused lightning bolts run horizontal to the sea, burrowing indigo holes in the lumpy, boot-black sky.

Hokule'a at Sail.  Photo by Monte Costa.When I look at the power of a sea like this one this morning, it brings to mind the first Hawaiians who came on the wind, sometime between 200 to 400 AD in multi-hulled canoes. While I quake at the weather in the confines of a one hundred and fifty foot vessel with two, eight hundred horse powered diesel motors, they boldly sailed some 2100 miles in the open ocean, unclear of any destination, with only the stars and the sea and a deep faith in their abilities to guide them. Now, on this day only the sea and stars are unchanged, that and perhaps some of the underwater reefs we are witnessing on this expedition. However this vessel and those of us on her are far different than the men and women and children who first voyaged up from the central Pacific. Perhaps our only similarity is that we all deeply care for the ocean, in that I feel connected to the first Hawaiians, though they understood aspects of the ocean that neither I nor any scientist could ever begin to grasp.

Field of Verbesina, Golden Crown Beard.  Photo by Jim Watt.Before venturing further into the day I would like to give the terrestrial team, who returned to the boat dog-tired yesterday, a bit of a nod for a job well done. They deserve to sleep in a bit late this morning, having put in two full days of manual labor on Kure. Very few boats get this far north and there was work to be done. `Aulani, Kaliko and Moani weed whacked in behalf of the albatross a large round patch so they might land with dignity. Albatross are built for the sky and landing is not their forte', about half the time they will somersault ass over teakettle in their landings. The team pulled two acres of weeds (Verbesina, or Golden Crown Beard) so the boobies could have a decent place to nest and the Wedge-tailed Shearwaters could burrow down and have some solitude of their own. A few storm shutters on Kure's residence quarters were scraped, sanded and painted for any future visitors who would be willing to put in time and energy for the birds.

The Captain pulls the Rapture up and around Pearl and Hermes Atoll so that we are protected from the swells. We are fortunate again today to be going out with Keoki who believes he knows of a reef not far from the boat. It is in seventy feet of water, and I will be on scuba this morning. The water is quite clear, and I buddy up with Mike May and we along with Watt and Doc Overlock, Brian and Keoki, head for the bottom and a small reef system where acreage of sand spills off into deeper acreage that is shelved up by reef wall. From the top it appears innocuous, scarcely worth a look, however on our descent a few ulua present themselves, then a kahala, then a curious school of thick lipped jacks. Once on the Yellow Tang at Pearl and Hermes Reef.sea floor the place is jumping as any neighborhood does when guests pay a visit. This reef is exactly that, a neighborhood, complete with children (small fish) elders (lobster), teenagers (omilu) and adults (butaguchi ), landlords (ulua) garbage collectors, (white tip sharks) schools, homes, markets, playgrounds. Healthy neighborhoods, with a healthy atmosphere, clean food, a vast, relatively safe playground, (except when the landlord comes around to collect the rent). In this neighborhood the inhabitants are born, will live a good life and then die of natural causes.

We all are enchanted by this little reef, its simple beauty calls to us, and seems to capture an innocence of a time unchanged, a time no different than when the Hawaiians sailed their canoes to a new home. Perhaps that is why we dive, to return to our timeless home. The true home for all mankind, in the heart of nature.

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