Chu Wanning hates the ocean.
It's pretty enough to look at, if one has time for that, and Chu Wanning enjoys his own fair share of seafood, but he's a sensible person. He has no business going any further than the railing of a sturdy pier, and neither should anyone else.
He isn't irrational, and he isn't a coward. This is an extremely calculated and warranted strategic aversion to traveling on the open seas. There's lightning. There are water parasites. There are monsters that you won't be able to see coming through murky water. There are pirates. There are storms. The ocean is a death trap, and anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves.
Xue Zhengyong lied to himself when he said that one little boat trip would be "fine" and "not a big deal" and "good for your health, Yuheng, you need more fresh air!" Chu Wanning would have never entertained such nonsense if Xue Meng hadn't been so starry eyed at the prospect of taking a year to study alongside his cousins at university. It would break the boy's heart not to go, clearly, and of course Chu Wanning couldn't let his pupil travel alone.
So now here he is, in maritime hell. Aboard a boat. He spends most of his time white-knuckling, pretending not to be scared seasick in front of Xue Meng. He drains himself completely every day, pushing past an uncooperative mind and stomach to get work done. He perches on deck and takes notes on the physics of the vessel. He sketches ropes and steering wheels. He tastes salt. He counts down the days until they'll see land again.