Pagan: 8 July 2010
We were told to be at the marina and ready to board the boat at 4:00 PM. Figuring out the logistics of running last minute errands, geting our stuff together, checking out of the the Hyatt, returning the rental cars, and then getting transportation back to the marina proved very daunting, but somehow it all worked out. At one point we were a little worried because Mike had split off with Justin to continue his quest for the perfect empanada (I think he is working on some kind of catalogue of empanadas of the Mariana Islands), and it was getting near 4:00 and there was still no sign of them at Budget Rent-a-car. In usual fashion, he rolled up just in time, and all was well with even a few minutes to spare.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I envisioned our boat to Pagan would look like, but it is pretty safe to say that the Micronesian was not really close in appearance to any of the vessels that my mind had conjured up. It did seem plenty large for the 12 hour journey, however, and that was all I was really concerned about.
After a couple hours of preparation, we were finally off. There were families of the crew and other folks with FWS waving goodbye and cheering us on our voyage, so there was a feeling of excitement in the air as we slowly pulled out of the harbor. I don’t really know my boat terms very well, so please bear with the following description of the Micronesian’s accomodations: There was an upper cabin area on deck with 3 or 4 rows of large seats, some tables, a TV, and a toilet, or head, as they say. Down below there was a galley, a few rooms with some bunks, and sort of a cargo hold. I didn’t venture into any other areas, so I can’t describe any more of the boat. Passengers basically included the Science crew, which consisted of our bug team (5) and a marine biology team (5). The rest of the folks were either part of the boat’s crew or part of the camp crew on one of the islands.
I was very concerned about getting sick, even though I had taken one Bonine pill in the morning, and another just after boarding the boat. I was doing fine, until we had to move a bunch of gear from the deck cabin down below to the cargo area. I was part of the chain down below, receiving luggage as it was passed from person to person down the stairs and through the narrow passage. By this time the boat was well under way and we had hit open ocean so the vessel was heaving to and fro. I started sweating profusely and began feeling a little uneasy. I didn’t get nauseated, but I was feeling very disoriented and my head ached. Standing outside on deck, with the cool air and ocean spray hitting me in the face, I was able to slightly recover. Soon it got dark however, so I retreated inside to try and find a seat.
One of the guys that seemed to sort of be in charge, or who at least been on the boat before and had some idea what was going on, told us that for DVDs we had the choice of either war movies or porn. The latter option seemed like a weird choice to offer since out of the 10 science crew, 4 were women. There was kind of an awkward pause, and then somebody suggested we go with the war DVDs. Band of Brothers ended up being the final choice. I am actually a big fan of the Band of Brothers series – I read the book and had seen all the episodes before, but watching people have their limbs blown off and listening to exploding bombs and constant machine gun fire doesn’t exactly put you at ease when you are trying ward off seasickness. I was kind of in an out, trying not to get too sick. I found that laying outside on deck was where I felt the best. There was a pile of ropes to one side that made a comfortable enough little spot for me to lay, and there was a nearby cargo strap to which I could cling and prevent myself from being tossed overboard during the big bumps over the waves. There was a lot of ocean spray at that spot, but if felt good. The Bonine was kicking in, so I actually dozed off in my little nest of ropes for a short time before someone woke me asking if I was OK. I assured them that I was. A while later another guy came out and told me that I was in a bad spot and that I had to go inside. I tried sleeping in some of the chairs, but it was no good. Many of the folks had already spread out so there was no place to lay down, and Band of Brothers was still going, even though there was no one watching. Actually, it was stuck on the menu screen, so the theme was playing over and over. Either no one knew how to turn it off, or no one wanted to get up, so the music just kept droning on as the dimly lit cabin slammed back and forth with the boat as it pushed ahead through the ocean swells.
I actually took another Bonine for fear that I was getting sick again. That made three Bonine pills in a period of about 12 hours. Not sure what the limit is, but I am pretty sure you aren’t supposed to take that many in such a short period. Needless to say, I was super tired, so I finally wandered downstairs. I thought it would be terrible down there, but actually it seemed a little more stable. I found a bunk and immediately crashed. Next thing I knew I was waking up and the boat was no longer moving – I had slept for about 8 or 9 hours straight, but more importantly, we had arrived at Pagan.