January 25 – Today the ship crossed the International Date Line, meaning we advanced the calendar from Sunday, January 23 to Tuesday, January 25, without pausing for Monday the 24th. At the same time we were required to “retard” our clocks by one hour. This is the fifth time we have set our clocks back in this manner, due to our heading west through multiple time zones. I again embarrassed myself today by showing up for breakfast an hour early, although the steward assures me it happens all the time.
There is light snow on the deck and containers, and it is below zero Celsius. It is a bright sunny day without fog and for the first time I can see the landless horizon in all directions. There is not another ship in sight. The North Pacific is choppy but without whitecaps, and the ship has a gentle pitch and roll. We are travelling at between 14.5 and 16.5 knots. The ship can do 25 knots, but is throttled back to save fuel, and to arrive in Pusan at the designated time.
I was allowed to take the wheel on the bridge and asked to keep a course heading of 267. This proved impossible for me as variables like wind, waves and the sheer mass of the ship caused me to overshoot the course and then to overcorrect. This amused the crew and the suggestion was made that I was trying to spell my name in the ship’s wake. Also, I was reminded that 23 souls and $150 million in cargo were in my hands, and I gladly returned the steering to the autopilot.