Mary Cook, January 7, 2005

NOAA Teacher at Sea
Mary Cook
Onboard NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown
December 5, 2004 – January 7, 2005

Mission: Climate Prediction for the Americas
Geographical Area: Chilean Coast
Date: January 7, 2005

Quote of the Day

“You cannot stay on the summit forever. You have to come down again. So, why bother in the first place? Just this … one climbs, one sees, one descends. One sees no longer but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower region by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.” Rene Dumaul

Final Log Entry

This morning as I stirred from a restful night’s slumber, I lay in my bunk all warm and toasty, snuggled under two wool blankets. Among my first ponderings were “This is it. It’s over.” As I emerged from my cocoon to stretch and yawn, the thought struck me, “I am not the same as before.” Like a metamorphosis. Did you know that back in November I had no inkling of the wonders awaiting me in the very near future? I had no idea. Even though I have traveled to many places in this world, living at sea was as foreign to me as going to the Mars. And I must share with you that in the days before I left home, I had an almost overwhelming fear about this journey. And the people who know me, know that I embrace a journey like a drowning person clings to a lifeline. I love to travel more than I like to eat. And that’s saying a lot! I love to see the beauty and uniqueness of Earth’s places. I love to learn and be challenged and be thrust into situations that test my ability and endurance and communication skills. But for some unfathomable reason, the notion of living at sea scared me. My dread was that the RONALD H. BROWN would become like a prison. That I would feel trapped, unable to escape. The idea of being three weeks at sea with no way to get off that boat, cast a shadow of doubt in me that struck at the very foundation of my self. But deep down, this one thing I knew, I was going to go to sea. In the words of Luke Skywalker as he fought the enemy, “I’m going in!” I would face my fear and either be broken by the experience or come out stronger and renewed. In my opinion, I had no choice. I had to find out. Shrinking from this daunting challenge was not an option.

Ironically, after we were out to sea for a few days, I realized that I felt free. Free! Who would’ve guessed it? When I looked out to where the sky meets the ocean it was like looking into infinity. Never-ending. I felt liberated. There were miles of water beneath me and miles of air above me and no stable place to put my feet, but I felt as though I was standing on a firm foundation. Now I know.

Well, if you’ve read my logs you know all the science and seafaring knowledge that I’ve gained since December 1st. I’m not going to recap that because it’s all in there. But I will say that this “Teacher at Sea” experience has nourished me on a multitude of levels: intellectually, professionally, interpersonally, emotionally, and spiritually. And as you know, nourishment brings about change.

This chapter of my life as “Teacher at Sea” has come to a close.

Now I will return to my family, my friends, my students, my co-workers, and my Arkansas. Throughout this journey, I’ve affectionately carried them with me in my thoughts. It is an honor to have them in my life.


Thank you NOAA, and Southside School, and Diane, and Jennifer, and the RHB crew and officers, and the WHOI scientists, and the people of Chile, and everybody back home. Thank you.

My next challenge: Live vibrantly as “Teacher on Land”.



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