Maybe it’s only because I know that it’s September now, but I’ve been noticing the smell of autumn in the air. Even though it remains a steady, humid, 85 degrees something has changed, yet no one else can detect it. I like thinking that, even though I’m on the other side of it, the Pacific is still my home ocean and the familiarity runs deeper than the years I’ve spent away. The palm trees and breadfruit certainly don’t have the same fall scents as the redwoods and pines, but maybe it’s more than the flora and fauna that signal change in my subconscious animal brain. The smell of plumeria blooms breeze across the island, and while not a traditional fall flower, it complements the woodsmoke thinness of the near-equatorial close of summer.
We got out of work a little early on Saturday and took a boat to a half sunken cement ship on Carlos, two islands north west of us in the atoll. The rope ladder climb was challenging and the metal rusting skeleton of the deck was skillet hot in the afternoon sun. We were all grateful for our tetanus shots, but no one got wounded, which was especially good because after we jumped off the ship into the water 30 feet below we saw a small black tip shark in the area. The diversity of the coral and fish are an endless amazement to me. This is a special place to be able to support so many species.
On Sunday evening we were treated to another boat ride, this one on a private fishing vessel. It was raining and windy and there were no birds swooping down to tell us where the fish were. Just as we turned to head home and pull in the fishing lines, one of the hand lines snapped tight with a bite. Zack pulled it in with a nice dogtooth tuna on the hook. We borrowed some soy sauce and wasabi and cut the meat into thin slices and devoured it raw on the beach. I love fresh fish above almost anything else to eat, but I was more effected by the killing and gutting than I hoped I would be. The eyes dilating and fading are particularly sticking with me. It did not die in vain, though, and was very much enjoyed, appreciated, and celebrated. And the gentle nurse sharks were happy to take the parts we didn’t eat.
Work on the pier is going through a monotonous period. We dive to inspect the turbidity curtain and the piles installed the previous day, then wait for the next sheet to get lined up. We watch as the sheet goes through the H-beams and make sure that it doesn’t get hung up on the template. Then we tell the crane to stop before the sheet hits mudline, and get out of the water while they swing the diesel hammer over to drive it. Then we do it again. And again. And again. We will need to burn holes for the tie rods and apply coating to any scrapes on the sheets, but for now it’s just the one task repeatedly. I did get to do four hours of scrapping with lift bags the other day, so that was fun. I think everyone is feeling a little antsy and frustrated with the stage we’re at right now, but we should be done with this part later this week. We just need to have patience. On the upside, I’ve read sixteen fantastic books during the stand-by time, so I can’t complain.
Thanks for reading! Next week is our Labor Day weekend and there’s a rumor that we’ll go back to 50 hour work weeks! Hopefully soon I will have more time for adventures, including a plane trip to Roi-Namur at the north end of the atoll and boat trips to other islands closer by (I passed my captain test so now I can rent boats!)