This is my first-ever time at sea on a naval ship, and I have discovered something about myself. I am a landlubber. Despite having grown up enjoying pirate movies and fantasizing about what going to sea would be like, I’m finding the real-life experience less than enchanting. I might feel differently if I weren’t on a huge, steel U.S. Navy behemoth, but below decks on this ship lacks all the things I have always loved about the sea. I can’t smell the salt water or see the sunshine. I don’t hear the sound of water against the hull. No seagulls. No porpoises. No mermaids. Just steel, pipe, conduits, exposed wiring, and the constant pitch and roll that makes using ladders as much a challenge as sipping a hot drink.
On the other hand, this is a fantastic research trip for the novel I’m working on and for future reference. The beginning of my work-in-progress takes place on a military ship, and now I don’t have to guess about many of the things I’m learning first-hand each day.
There is real work to be done out here, and it’s a good feeling to have some influence on world events, however small. I’m a soldier at sea, and it’s an experience I’ll be glad I had. That’s the silver lining that wore off after about three days of Dramamine-induced half-nauseous stupor. Seriously, can I go home now, please?