Moods of Blue

There’s been a constant humming undertone to my thoughts lately, which I recognize from more unsettled and less fulfilling times in my life. It’s a beat that says “I want, I want, I want…” and it doesn’t have a place here. Its lyrics are all about what I don’t have and what I’m not doing and it drowns out the rhythm of here and now. On my bike ride home I took the dirt road that runs along the lagoon to stumble across a sight that turned my thinking from the whiney, over-played wantwantwant sound to a bluesy, soulful wow, wow, wow!

Sunset in wow major

Staring at the water all day, either from above or below the surface, gives me a unique (and ungodly) amount of time to appreciate the nuances and subtleties of the ever changing ocean blues. The million shades that dominate my everyday life settle into my subconscious the way you can’t hear background music unless you really focus. Looking through my photos I was impressed by how often the blues struck me enough to take a picture, and how promptly they were forgotten after. So this is my ode to the moods of blue in the sky and the sea.

Zack and friends surfing a shallow pass, periwinkle, turquoise and steel blue

Since I have my boat license now I was able to zoom Zack out to SAR pass to catch some waves in the early afternoon. He missed a ride on his friends boat because we went for a sail on a boat we might buy (!) in the morning. The wind was calm since it is still the doldrums season so it was more of a putter, but so incredible to be on the water without a Diesel engine blaring out the splash of the water. When we got to the break I dove down to check that we had a good anchor and the current was so strong I had to fight hard for a quick glimpse before floating back to the swim ladder. It held in the swell and I dove into Bernard Moitessier’s “The Long Way”, which will be my 21st book read here (3 months!).

The hot tub and beyond, clear, sea foam, and midnight blues 

Some nights when the low tide isn’t too late we go to the hot tub, which is really just a circle of rocks around the outfall of a cooling line (just warmed up seawater, nothing gross, we’ve worked on too many questionable outfalls to not check). The lagoon is already like bathwater so during sunlight hours the ‘tub’ would be un-refreshingly hot, but at night it’s comfortable and there’s a beautiful view of the stars.

The supply ship looking larger than the islands, royal, jewel, and stormy morning blues

Today I was making an inspection video of the sheets we’ve driven to find any damage to the coating we’ll need to repair. They’re only in about 25 feet of water, but climbing up and down 40 pairs, mentally measuring  and narrating every scratch (there are A LOT) and hauling the 30 pound hat out of the water with your neck to see the tops is pretty exhausting. Not to mention the pressure changes playing havoc with your ears. I’m very fortunate to be able to clear by moving my jaw in the hat (that pop you feel in airplanes), some people have to work much harder at it using the Valsalva maneuver of blocking your nose and blowing. I’ve been wearing earplugs topside with much more regularity than ever before in appreciation of what all that the tiny bones in my ears do for me. I hate earplugs because I feel numb and stupid with them in, like… well, like one of my senses has been taken away! But it’s better to suffer a temporary haze than lifetime impairment.

Turbidity curtains doing their job protecting the blue lagoon from the cloudy sea dust we stir up

The mini-vacation to Roi-Namur didn’t happen because no one was going there for work so they didn’t schedule any flights. A total bummer, but silly and worthless to complain about missing out on a free flight and $15 hotel room. Hopefully we’ll have another opportunity to go in the time we have here. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up sailing there for the weekend one of these days…

Thanks for reading! What are some of the things you take for granted, but bring so much to your life? Share your gratitude and pictures of your favorite blues in the comments!


Biga**, soggy boots, and Summer reads

We managed to take out one of the rental boats last Sunday morning, which is easier said than done when you can finally sleep-in later than 0530. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a morning person. Sunday is our “Saturday” and Monday is “Sunday” due to the time difference between us and the states, (we’re a day ahead) and I still have trouble wrapping my head around something so engrained in our vocabulary. We went to the north east to an island in the Kwajalein Atoll called Bigej. I have heard that pronounced by the Americans here alternately as “Bee-Gee” and “Big-Edge”, but a welder who came with us cleared it up by telling us his Marshallese co-workers say it almost as “Big-A**”, so naturally we emulate that pronunciation.

Well, this is Kwaj, but I didn’t take many pictures of Bigej

We had a perfect, slightly overcast day and Bigej seemed somehow to have even clearer water than Kwajalein, which I didn’t think was possible. There were so many reefs and a whole jungle and waves and shells! It definitely warrants many more trips, which I will gladly take. Check out this movie trailer I made from our trip in iMovie, I think it’s going to be a blockbuster!


I should take a moment to correct my former mistakes by saying that my morning bike ride is most definitely not three miles (though it often feels that far). In actuality, the islands’ total square mileage is only 1.2!!! The entirety of Kwajalein Atolls’ land mass, 97 individual islands, is 6.3 square miles, a fact that completely blows my tiny mind! How small we humans truly are, and how amazing that is! I plan to do more research on the area so that I can write with better authority about this amazing place in the future.

Come join us for a stormy sunset

We are lucky to have many hours to read while at work, as there isn’t much to do topside while one diver works for two hours. We all pass around books and analyze and refer to parts easily between us. So far I have read five books. “The Old Man and the Sea” took the least time, but but sticks with me the most (a couple tears shed for Santiago, I’ll admit). I brought “The Rum Diary” by Hunter S. Thompson and we all agree on the undeniable similarities of his 1950s Puerto Rico with our modern day Kwajalein. I guess island life is sometimes universal in its uniqueness. We joked that our stories from here could be titled “The Hamilton Diaries” after our favorite and most frequented beach.

Sittin’ stand-by

July seems to have passed by in a minute. I have the schoolchild instinct, still, to fear and hate the dying of summer (warmth and freedom), but this close to the equator all I need to worry about is slightly more rain. We’ve had a very wet dry-season, with more than 200 percent of average rainfalls for the last few months. When the rain and air are so warm, though, it’s only slightly inconvenient on the bike ride to and from work, but one day my leather work boots actually FILLED with water and couldn’t dry for two days. I don’t know what I was thinking bringing only one solitary pair of deck boots with me. Overall, I did well packing, but I had no idea really what to expect of working here. I hope Xtratuf will ship out here (my bottom boots are finally and unfortunately falling apart, too).

Waaaaay back on Independence Day we found a beach swing before the fireworks

My phone is stuffed with sunset pictures, each day seems to get better and I hope that I don’t lose that feeling. I understand how the island could start to feel two sizes too small (1.2 sq.mi.!!!!), but it still seems so much bigger than I expected it to. And there are other islands and tons of interesting people and many activities I have yet to explore. Also, there cannot be enough said about enjoying my work. We’ve essentially been vacuuming the sea floor for weeks (no woman jokes!!), but I am warm and comfortable and learning and improving every day, and that feels good. I wish everyone the same for their days.

Never forget what comes after, and only because of, the rain.

Thanks for reading! Next week I’ll take you through the battlefield tour to see some of the World War Two history of the island. I’m looking forward to learning about it!

No-Sleep Island

Oh man… so much for the weekly post goal. I cannot believe I’ve been here for a month already! So much has happened, but it feels like time has gone so quickly. I guess I was waiting to feel “settled in” before writing again, but everything seemed so temporary at first, like a vacation I would be home from in a week with nothing to show but a sunburn and sand in my luggage. I kept feeling that everything would be taken away as swiftly as it came and that I would be left feeling like such a fool for believing that anyone would actually pay me to be in this place. Now that I have fallen into a predictable routine and decorated my room, I can finally relax and share.

Rain over (but not on) Carlson, the next island in the atoll

This routine I speak of involves getting up at 0500 (well waking up) getting dressed for work, and riding my bike to the mess hall. Someone told me it’s a three mile ride, but I’ll have to verify that. We ride on the paved road next to the air strip and we always seem to be riding into the wind. Some days it’s so strong I’ve had to get off and walk. If you think this means I’ll at least have a wind pushing me home at the end of the day, that’s what I thought, too, and we’re both wrong. Somewhere in the afternoon the wind switches to completely the opposite direction and I have to fight it back as well! I need to have grandkids so I can tell them how easy they have it; your granny had to ride her bicycle 3 miles, in the tropics, in 100 percent humidity, against the wind both ways!

The first diver is in the water by 0700 and we rotate every two hours or so. Then back to the galley for lunch, then back to the barge, back to diving, then back to the galley for dinner around 1730, then the long ride home. There are three beaches close to the man camp, so I choose one and go swimming. It stays around 86 degrees here so I try not to get too far from the water (as if I could if I tried haha!). I bring a couple beers or some wine and stay for the sunset; I swear each one is better than the last.

Clouds over man camp
The man camp neighborhood. Homely, but homey

I’ve had a really hard time sleeping here for some reason. The beds are comfy, work is going well, the air conditioning is strong…. I. Just. Can’t. Fall. Asleep. Or sometimes I wake up hours early and can’t fall back asleep. My thoughts race and get stuck in loops about certain things. They’re not negative thoughts, though, thankfully, just never-ending thoughts. Song lyrics, lists, plans, what I should write about in the blog, bizarre hypothetical situations, about how I really need some sleep… Things get so jumbled I almost think I’m dreaming, but I can still feel my exhausted eyes and limbs aching. And then it’s so hot in the afternoons that I can’t keep from feeling irritated by EVERYTHING and everyone. Which is not good. There are multiple yoga classes around the island and I know at least two focus on meditation, so that is definitely on the list of things that must be done. What helps you when you can’t put your brain to bed?

Laps in the saltwater pool also help a manic mindset

We’ve been looking for an old concrete pile that sheered below mudline during extraction for over two weeks now. Daaays of nonstop water jetting and air lifting. We knew it was down there, we just didn’t know where. I’m the hero for finding it today (just kidding! We were all digging the same hole, it just happened to be my dive) so my boss brought me a case of beer as a reward. We had to stand-by for a turtle in the work area as well. If you can’t tell, I’m loving my job.

Off to work!

I missed getting a picture with the turtle, but I think I found the thousands of jellies he was snacking on:

Thanks for reading! If all goes well I will get to go on a boat this weekend and see some of the other islands finally! I can’t wait to share what I find.