February 1 – The ship has been idling in the East China Sea for the last 12 hours. With the GPS feature on my camera and Google Earth, I know our precise location: Latitude 30°47’50.10″N, Longitude 125°20’4.32″E. Nobody on the ship is impressed with this technology; some openly question the utility of a GPS camera.
At breakfast the Chief Engineer made passing reference to replacing a blower, but didn’t elaborate. Because of the good-natured antipathy between the deck and engine crews, none of the former seem to know the nature of the delay, and I have decided not to bother the engineers with questions. It is a beautiful day with calm seas and I have been enjoying the sun. The deck crew spent the day washing the accumulated salt and engine soot from the ship, and cleaning windows while I read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, which I enjoyed at times but found tedious at others. I struggled with the notion that Patty, presented throughout as a jock and a person of limited gifts (she fails to notice that her best friend in college is a junkie, for example), was capable of producing the insightful autobiography that is central to the book. The autobiographical sections read instead like they were written by Jonathan Franzen.
Owing to the difficulties in getting ashore in Pusan I have been promoted from “passenger” to “supernumerary” in the ship’s record. This sounded good until I looked up the word and found it synonymous with “surplus,” “excess” and “redundant.” Still if it provides some official status that impresses customs officials in Yantian, China, our next port of call, I’m all for it.