Savoring the Rhythms of Sea

October 31, 2023

Author: Grant Carey, University of San Diego


Swim call in the middle of the pacific! Couldn’t be better.

Ship's Log

Grant… Grant…”My eyes shoot open as I jolt out of this half sleep that I have spent thepast couple hours in. A sleep perched on the edge of consciousness feelingmy body go up and down, insides becoming weightless as the boat pitches androlls.“Hey” I reply, half sitting up in my bunk.“Good morning. This is Eva. This is your wake up, it is 0600 breakfast isin 20 minutes, and the weather outside is cooler so you might wantsomething warm. Any questions?”“No all good. Thanks”I lay back down with a sigh trying to shake off the sleep and wrap my headaround reality. What day is it? How long have we been at sea for? When wasthe last time I set foot on land? I try and put together the pieces of thepuzzle. To be honest, I have no idea. Yet that is the beauty of life outhere, it really does not matter. I have watch in an hour and our daily crewmeeting at 1430. Beyond that sleep, food, reading and art. I close my eyesfor a second and let out a long exhale, sleep momentarily washing over me.Memories of the last days roll thought my head mirroring the outside worldthrough the lenses of a port hole, each wave exploding with force and withit a mesmerizing swirl of blue and white before washing back down. Life hasbeen incredible, each day bringing its own uniqueness, its own excitement.Yesterday we caught a fish! A big wahoo around a meter in length, andtonight it is being cooked for dinner in the galley. I can smell itsdelicious aroma wafting around below deck. I was in the midst of a rippinga boaty (doing an hourly boat check) and was out at the bow when I heardsomeone breathlessly shout from the quarter deck, “we have a fish on theline”. Satya and I lurched our way aft as fast as we could though theheavy sea state and crowded around Sil as he pulled the fish on deck. Thefish had this incredible color to it, silver on the bottom and thisshimmering purple and deep blue on top. To me it is a conflicting thingtaking the life of such a beautiful creature, one that moments before wasswimming the open ocean. However, I remembered to tell myself that the actof killing an animal that you are going to eat is the best way to showappreciation of the animal you are eating. Much better than thoughtlesslybuying and consuming from a grocery store. Still, I could not help butfeel a tinge of sadness as the color and life faded from the fish. Beingrelatively new to the pursuit of fishing, I watched in curiosity as theybrought the fish down to the science deck, gutted and filleted it. Lookingat the stomach to see what it has been eating and watching its heart stillbeat. It doesn’t get fresher than this. I hope before the end of the tripto catch a fish and put some of these skills I have learned to use.

Two days ago, I was doing my laundry on deck with a bucket and wash board.I heard a tringle being rung aft. Odd I thought, why we would have ameeting now. Austin rounds the corner tringle ringing and says “Swim call15 minutes.” I hollered with excitement, rushed through scrubbing my lastcouple of shirts on the washboard and watched as those on watch madeprepared the ship for a swim call by heaving to. Heaving to is the act ofpositioning the sails and rudder of the boat so that they oppose each otherand causes the boat to stop all forward movement and bob relativelystationary on the ocean. This also happens to be the method that we useduring science stations to do our deployments. Soon all of us were makingour way out to the bowsprit crawling up the cargo net to the very tip ofthe boat preparing to leap off into the deep blue sea.

That momentary feeling of weightlessness, looking back at the Bobby C andall her crew on board and then the rush of being engulfed by the warm waterof the Pacific. I opened my eyes to look around and saw the bluest of bluesextending outwards and empty to the vast expanses of the ocean and thelittle hull of our boat but a speck in the foreground. In that moment Iwished I could stay in the water forever. I will never forget the sight ofthe Robert C Seamans as I broke the surface and looked about. A thing ofbeauty with her sails flying, being framed by the blues of the ocean andsky, bobbing back and forth as the swell rolled by. A majestic boat that,for the past month, has been carrying us safely through this unhospitableenvironment. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself as I realized that theclosest piece of land was the ocean floor some 3390 meters away. Soon allof us were jumping off the boat over and over again and frolicking about inthe water laughing, hooting, and hollering. The sun smiling warmly down onus and the clouds rolling lazily by.

Beyond that the days and memories blur together fading off into thehorizon. We have a little sunset appreciation club moment every evening ondeck. Some of my favorite moments have been laying in the sails on top ofthe lab deck and playing music as the sun sets jamming and singing whilethe sun paints us the most amazing picture. Singing Astrovan with Grace,Katharine, Cali and Sophie will live in my heart always. The beauty rarelydissipates because as it gets darker, and the sun leaves us behind thestars come out to guide us through the night. This past week the Orionidmeteor shower has been peeking and while lying on deck looking up at theconstellations learning their names and their path through the night wehave been greeted with a moment of greater wonder as shooting stars streakacross the sky. Lately I have been cherishing the sun rises too getting upin the mornings before watch with Satya and Soleil to take a second to baskin the morning rays. It seems that too often back on land I forget to takea moment to pause and appreciate the natural world in the same way that isbecoming a second nature out here.Alright, back to reality, time to get up. I time climbing out of bed with aroll of the boat and stick my legs out of the bunk to worm my way out. Forme getting out of bed is a funny ordeal because there is a lip to the bunkto prevent us from falling out when sleeping and the bunk above mine isclose enough that I cannot sit up in bed. I have to slide feet first out ofthe opening at the bottom side of my bunk and then work the rest of my bodydown that way so that I can get out the opening. I stand up and immediatelylose my balance from another roll and stumble into a wall before making myway bleary eyed up to the deck. As soon as I step out from the lobby andonto the deck I get hit with a strong breeze and cool salty air thatdissipates all the remaining sleep from my body. I take in a big breath andsmile. Through all the tiredness and hard work I am here, in the middle ofthe ocean sailing the seas on a tall ship. What an incredible place to be.It is cloudy out and there are some strong winds and big waves so it willbe a fun wet watch.

Picture this. You are standing on the front of the boatfor an hour continuously scanning the horizon for any signs of squalls orboats getting lifted into the air high and then slamming back down with asplash as the boat pushes through big seas. Most of the time the spray getsshot out away from you but on occasions when the boat lands just right thespray is shot forward and the wind whips the spray into a shower to drenchyou for a second. No falling asleep on watch that’s for sure.

Recently during watches we have been getting to take on moreresponsibilities getting to do all the sail and maneuvering calls for theboat and write in the log. Last watch, as students we got to run the deckof the ship while under way as the staff were below planning some funthings for the rest of us. No longer does handling sails at 2am seem out ofthe ordinary and the routine of the boat is becoming engrained into oursystems. It is a life I could get used to. Yet our time at sea is alsogoing by faster than I could have imagined. So, I remember to cherish thesmall things. Of riding out squalls, and hauling on halyards, countingplankton and of climbing aloof to watch islands and the world go by. Forall to soon these too will be fading into memories.Shout Outs!!Mom, Dad, and Ethan I hope all is going well. Miss you all lots and Ican’t wait to share all the cool things I have been learning with you andfor our next adventures. So excited to be able to explore our new home andget to be shown all around! Mom, happy early birthday! I hope you have themost amazing time and am so excited to be able to celebrate it with yousoon. Thanks for being the best mom I could ask for!Fam and friends keep living large and having fun times! Can’t wait tocatch up with all of you soon to laugh and share stories.Isabella, happy year and a half! I love you so much and couldn’t imagine abetter person to be sharing it all with. I have been thinking about youlots. I hope you are doing well and enjoying all that these new experiencesbring with them. I can’t wait to hear your voice and get to talk abouteverything.

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  1. Beans November 1, 2023 at 00:26 - Reply

    G! Your parents forwarded the blog. Beautiful writing, and what an amazing adventure. Play The Only Living Boy for me, and I can’t wait to give you a squeeze when we’re together again.

  2. Catey Hale November 1, 2023 at 10:51 - Reply

    Hey Grant! Uncle Doug and I have been enjoying your blog entries!! Your writing is beautifully descriptive as you tell us the stories of the events that make up your daily and life and overall experience. And what an experience it is! We are so happy for you!!!

    It has been a special joy for me because, in the summer before heading off to Ohio for college, when I was 18, I sailed with 8 other kids (we were Seas Scouts) aboard and an old wooden sloop rigged with a jigger mast (a Hinckley designed boat between 50-60 feet LOA) from Southport CT to Maine. It took 3 weeks and, while on a much smaller scale than you are experiencing, we had to do all the same things.,

    One of my most enduring memories was a time when we were sailing at night. I was on bow watch, and the night was very cold – we actually had to bring winter coats to stay warm during the night and dawn hours. Kids slept in the main cabin and forecastle. We actually would fit 3 of us, in our own sleeping bags, on that small little triangle of of a sleeping space in the forecastle. When we sailed at night, and as the boat heeled, it was affectionately called “the puppy pile,” as we all rolled practically on top of each other on the leeward side of the boat I remember coming in from the cold, fresh air and finding the person who was to replace me at watch … yup – the puppy pile! A tap on the shoulder and a whisper in the ear woke them up and then I had to move to the main cabin so that he (or she, I can no longer remember) could actually have enough room to maneuver out of the tangle of bodies and twisted sleeping bags and lurch up to the deck. Once clear, I was able to slide into their still-warm sleeping bag and fall gently asleep, rocked by the boat and listening to the quiet breathing of my bunk mates.

    You are making such amazing memories and learning so very much – I can’t help but feel jealous … but hang on every word as I see, hear, smell, and feel the wonderful things that you describe.

    Sending a big hug your way! Aunt Catey

  3. RC November 5, 2023 at 16:03 - Reply


    Woke up this morning and saw that you all completed your passage and are in Auckland! How fantastic!

    Can’t wait to connect with you but continue to savor your experience as you de-rig, finalize your research and get used to walking on land again.

    Please thank all of your friends for their posts. We would check your progress, read the posts and get little glimpses into your lives. Of course, your posts made us feel right there with you (though you would be jumping off first for the swim call, as usual) and your evocative writings made us feel every rock and pitch of the boat (trust me, I was watching the swell/wind charts as well and you guys had some swell and storms!).

    Can’t wait to talk with you and hear about your adventures but take your time easing back in – keep your focus and keep writing as you process your trip – it’s the only way to keep reminding yourself of your insights and understandings.

    We love you so completely and support you always. Congratulations!!!

    Dad, Mom, and Ethan

  4. Sonia Martinez November 9, 2023 at 03:42 - Reply

    Hola Grant desde Viena!

    Que hermosa experiencia! Tu blog es muy profundo, lleno de sabiduria y sentimiento, haces un trabajo maravilloso. Aqui en Viena se les extrana mucho, las memorias de tantos anos compartidos van a vivir por siempre en nuestro corazon. Orando porque sigas experimentando tantas bendiciones de Dios en tu vida y tu linda familia tambien.

    Se les quiere y recuerda con muchisimo carino familia Carey!

    Pura Vida!


  5. Anonymous November 9, 2023 at 07:40 - Reply

    Grant!!! What a special treat to wake up and read your blog! It sounds amazing – enjoy every minute!
    Adam & Rach
    PS – we woke up to the first snow on Squam today:-)

  6. Adam November 9, 2023 at 07:41 - Reply

    Grant!!! What a special treat to wake up and read your blog! It sounds amazing – enjoy every minute!
    Adam & Rach
    PS – we woke up to the first snow on Squam today:-)

  7. Catherine November 10, 2023 at 01:13 - Reply

    Grant – again another beautifully written piece which lets me imagine and picture what you are experiencing. I think a boat may be in your future. You must be thrilled to see your family soon but also sad to know this amazing adventure is almost over. Take care and have a suoer time over the next few months.

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