by Eric Wallischecke, US Merchant Marine Academy

Although Skipper Rich refers to the land that he is passing as “invisible”, I think it really is the ocean that is invisible. A whopping 360 million square kilometers of the earth’s surface is covered with seawater, yet at most we can see 2.4% of the oceans from all the world’s shorelines. Thus, with so little of the ocean being visible from the shore, it seems like it is the ocean that is invisible; not the land. And since we cannot see Rich from the shore, maybe it is he that is invisible, too.

It’s not easy being “invisible” to others, since humans are social beings. We like to spend time with our family and friends. Spending long periods of time away from others can make you lonely and sad. In the early days of ocean travel, voyagers spent months, even years, away from their homes, communicating only by mail. Babies were born, and people died, while their family members were isolated in the middle of the ocean.

Fortunately, Rich has access to the Internet, so he can stay “visible” to us. We can ask him questions, and follow his progress. He can talk to family and friends, follow the news, and get football scores. So, while he may be in an invisible place to us, we can see him and he can see us.