Birthday Wishes (from December 11th, 2015 aboard Sea Dragon)

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lisa pop

I celebrated my birthday at sea today by starting the day off with an early morning watch and as the sun started to rise, we were greeted with a pod of dolphin that stayed with us surfing the bow wake and the swell coming in under the boat for about 30 minutes. It was more than I could have asked for and a gift from the ocean that I will always treasure as a memory more valuable than any possession. I believe there were 36 of them to be exact – after all dolphins are way better than candles. I am not exactly sure what kind of dolphin they were, but they were small and very beautiful. I cannot wait to share footage from my Go-pro when I get time to edit and wifi to send it.

XX eating on sea dragon

On birthdays, people tend to always ask what you wish for. I cannot recall the last time that I wished for a material possession. I guess it’s age and being able to buy what you need when you want that has evolved my birthday wishes to something more significant and more beneficial.

Throughout the day, my fellow crew greeted me with several different versions of the birthday song, all equally beautiful. We had another day of science, watch shifts, and it was incredibly hot today, which I find myself complaining about a little even though I know I will laugh about it when it is freezing cold in February. I guess if I should have considered a birthday wish for cooler weather, but knowing the humor or being at sea, we’d probably get a storm instead.

IMG_3717 IMG_3725IMG_3724

Although it is an experience of a lifetime, I think it also is important to share that this journey is not easy and should not be considered glamorous or that of a vacation – it is anything but. It is extremely hot with little air flow in the cabin. Our bunks are stacked on top of one another leaving very little air space. There are no shade trees in the middle of the ocean so even when you go on the deck for a breeze, the sun is a scorcher. Desalinated water is not amazing. It sort of tastes like what I would think drinking water out of dirty old shoes would taste like. I giggle as I type, only because it’s better to have a good laugh about it. Water is crucial no matter what it tastes like. We are constantly sweating – morning, noon, and night. It is an endless full time job just to stay hydrated. Even still, dolphins on my birthday keeps my mind off the heat, the sweat, and bad water. Perhaps I should have a birthday wish for a liter or two of refreshing tap water from home.

I was able to chat with beans (my husband, Wes) over the satellite phone for a bit this afternoon and it reminds me how much I miss him and everyone back home, especially on a day like today He wished me a happy birthday and relayed all the birthday wishes from family and friends – that was nice! I do miss him so much and I am grateful that he is holding down the fort and can send me good vibes via ESP.

Right now, I am drinking water and watching our resident scientist, Diana, use the microscope to look through the samples that we collected today. We found plastic fibres yesterday and some micro plastics the day before. Finally getting into the swing of it with the science is also a nice gift since that is, after-all, what we are here for.


If I had a birthday wish this year and every year, it would be that my friends, my family, my neighbors, and people I have not met yet around the world will take part in a global effort to reduce plastic consumption, cut out single-use plastics from daily lives and routines, do more with less, reduce waste, reuse as much as possible, and vote with the wallet by making smart consumer purchases that reduce the negative impact on our community environment, our oceans, our health and thus work to establish a more sustainable economy that will benefit us all.


PS – Thanks Stella for the awesome card and vegan cake!!

eXXpedition bday card - Stella


Con mucho amor,

Lisa Rider

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