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May 20, 2006

One Frame at a Time: from Santa Margherita to Corsica

BY: Cory



After a week documenting corals and ocean habitat in Portofino, Italy, the Ranger departed for Corsica. A majority of the crew, including myself, was taking a break ashore to get some authentic Italian pizza in Santa Margherita. As we sat down to order, with menus in hand, we received a phone call from Carlos. The weather was turning for the worst and we needed to get back to the boat, or the zodiac would not be able to pick us up at all.

We arrived at the dock where Carlos was already arriving and hopped in the zodiac. Heading back to the Ranger head on into the wind proved to be a very wet experience. I shielded my camera as best I could.

When I arrived back on the boat, I quickly changed clothing – I was soaked and very cold. I dried my digital camera, and replaced it for the video camera and ran back on deck. By the time I got there, the crew was already hauling the zodiac out of the water on deck.

Later that night, we lifted anchor and set off for Corsica. The crew readied itself by establishing the different night watches needed for the 16-18 hour southbound journey. This time, we were headed into a roaring sea.

I, along with most of the crew, took the time to take some sea-sickness medicine before we got out to sea. I secured my items, and helped secure the loose items in the kitchen as sleepiness set in. I sat still as possible on the back of the boat and watched as the Italian coastline – brightly lit – slowly disappeared behind the 2-4 meter swells. The boat rocked up and down and side to side, and I loved every minute of it.

It was the first time I had been on a boat out at sea to this extent, so I took the time to soak it up before I became too tired to enjoy it. I watched the waves swell and completely destroy the horizon, as the Ranger dropped suddenly when the sea moved out from under us. Seconds later we were catapulted back into the light as the next wave passed under us.

Eventually I retired to my cabin. I sleep at the front of the Ranger on the port side (left), which is apparently the worst place to be in a storm, or rough seas. It was incredibly difficult to get through the small water-tight cabin door, carefully measuring that my head wouldn’t slam against the metal parts. I checked on my cabin-mates, who seemed to be doing alright, and climbed into bed.

The sound of the Ranger was amazing that night. I lay on my side and listened to the waves passing under and around me. I imagined what it looked like outside as the Ranger slammed down into the sea, trying to cut into the uncompressible water, only to be pushed back as a terrific shutter passed from end of the aluminium hull to the other.

That night, I had some of the strangest dreams of my life as I drifted in and out of consciousness. I woke in the morning to the seas still rough, but daylight peaking in the cabin. I stumbled through the boat to the main cabin to get my camera and take some photos and video for a short while. I was barely conscious.

After another siesta, I woke again to calmer seas. Back on deck with my camera, the Corsican cliffs greeted me.