My eyes shoot open as I jolt out of this half sleep that I have spent the past couple hours in. A sleep perched on the edge of consciousness feeling my body go up and down, insides becoming weightless as the boat pitches and rolls. “Hey” I reply, half sitting up in my bunk. “Good morning. This is Eva. This is your wake up, it is 0600 breakfast is in 20 minutes, and the weather outside is cooler so you might want something warm. Any questions?” “No all good. Thanks” I lay back down with a sigh trying to shake off the sleep and wrap my head around reality. What day is it? How long have we been at sea for? When was the last time I set foot on land? I try and put together the pieces of the puzzle. To be honest, I have no idea. Yet that is the beauty of life out here, it really does not matter. I have watch in an hour and our daily crew meeting at 1430. Beyond that sleep, food, reading and art. I close my eyes for 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 world through the lenses of a port hole, each wave exploding with force and with it a mesmerizing swirl of blue and white before washing back down. Life has been incredible, each day bringing its own uniqueness, its own excitement. Yesterday we caught a fish! A big wahoo around a meter in length, and tonight it is being cooked for dinner in the galley. I can smell its delicious aroma wafting around below deck. I was in the midst of a ripping a boaty (doing an hourly boat check) and was out at the bow when I heard someone breathlessly shout from the quarter deck, “we have a fish on the line”. Satya and I lurched our way aft as fast as we could though the heavy sea state and crowded around Sil as he pulled the fish on deck. The fish had this incredible color to it, silver on the bottom and this shimmering purple and deep blue on top. To me it is a conflicting thing taking the life of such a beautiful creature, one that moments before was swimming the open ocean. However, I remembered to tell myself that the act of killing an animal that you are going to eat is the best way to show appreciation of the animal you are eating. Much better than thoughtlessly buying and consuming from a grocery store. Still, I could not help but feel a tinge of sadness as the color and life faded from the fish. Being relatively new to the pursuit of fishing, I watched in curiosity as they brought the fish down to the science deck, gutted and filleted it. Looking at the stomach to see what it has been eating and watching its heart still beat. It doesn’t get fresher than this. I hope before the end of the trip to 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 a meeting now. Austin rounds the corner tringle ringing and says “Swim call 15 minutes.” I hollered with excitement, rushed through scrubbing my last couple of shirts on the washboard and watched as those on watch made prepared the ship for a swim call by heaving to. Heaving to is the act of positioning the sails and rudder of the boat so that they oppose each other and causes the boat to stop all forward movement and bob relatively stationary on the ocean. This also happens to be the method that we use during science stations to do our deployments. Soon all of us were making our way out to the bowsprit crawling up the cargo net to the very tip of the boat preparing to leap off into the deep blue sea.
That momentary feeling of weightlessness, looking back at the Bobby C and all her crew on board and then the rush of being engulfed by the warm water of the Pacific. I opened my eyes to look around and saw the bluest of blues extending outwards and empty to the vast expanses of the ocean and the little hull of our boat but a speck in the foreground. In that moment I wished I could stay in the water forever. I will never forget the sight of the Robert C Seamans as I broke the surface and looked about. A thing of beauty with her sails flying, being framed by the blues of the ocean and sky, bobbing back and forth as the swell rolled by. A majestic boat that, for the past month, has been carrying us safely through this unhospitable environment. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself as I realized that the closest piece of land was the ocean floor some 3390 meters away. Soon all of us were jumping off the boat over and over again and frolicking about in the water laughing, hooting, and hollering. The sun smiling warmly down on us and the clouds rolling lazily by.
Beyond that the days and memories blur together fading off into the horizon. We have a little sunset appreciation club moment every evening on deck. Some of my favorite moments have been laying in the sails on top of the lab deck and playing music as the sun sets jamming and singing while the sun paints us the most amazing picture. Singing Astrovan with Grace, Katharine, Cali and Sophie will live in my heart always. The beauty rarely dissipates because as it gets darker, and the sun leaves us behind the stars come out to guide us through the night. This past week the Orionid meteor shower has been peeking and while lying on deck looking up at the constellations learning their names and their path through the night we have been greeted with a moment of greater wonder as shooting stars streak across the sky. Lately I have been cherishing the sun rises too getting up in the mornings before watch with Satya and Soleil to take a second to bask in the morning rays. It seems that too often back on land I forget to take a moment to pause and appreciate the natural world in the same way that is becoming a second nature out here. Alright, back to reality, time to get up. I time climbing out of bed with a roll of the boat and stick my legs out of the bunk to worm my way out. For me getting out of bed is a funny ordeal because there is a lip to the bunk to prevent us from falling out when sleeping and the bunk above mine is close enough that I cannot sit up in bed. I have to slide feet first out of the opening at the bottom side of my bunk and then work the rest of my body down that way so that I can get out the opening. I stand up and immediately lose my balance from another roll and stumble into a wall before making my way bleary eyed up to the deck. As soon as I step out from the lobby and onto the deck I get hit with a strong breeze and cool salty air that dissipates all the remaining sleep from my body. I take in a big breath and smile. Through all the tiredness and hard work I am here, in the middle of the 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 will be a fun wet watch.
Picture this. You are standing on the front of the boat
for an hour continuously scanning the horizon for any signs of squalls or boats getting lifted into the air high and then slamming back down with a splash as the boat pushes through big seas. Most of the time the spray gets shot out away from you but on occasions when the boat lands just right the spray is shot forward and the wind whips the spray into a shower to drench you for a second. No falling asleep on watch that’s for sure.
Recently during watches we have been getting to take on more
responsibilities getting to do all the sail and maneuvering calls for the boat and write in the log. Last watch, as students we got to run the deck of the ship while under way as the staff were below planning some fun things for the rest of us. No longer does handling sails at 2am seem out of the ordinary and the routine of the boat is becoming engrained into our systems. It is a life I could get used to. Yet our time at sea is also going by faster than I could have imagined. So, I remember to cherish the small things. Of riding out squalls, and hauling on halyards, counting plankton and of climbing aloof to watch islands and the world go by. For all 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 I can’t wait to share all the cool things I have been learning with you and for our next adventures. So excited to be able to explore our new home and get to be shown all around! Mom, happy early birthday! I hope you have the most amazing time and am so excited to be able to celebrate it with you soon. Thanks for being the best mom I could ask for! Fam and friends keep living large and having fun times! Can’t wait to catch 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 a better person to be sharing it all with. I have been thinking about you lots. I hope you are doing well and enjoying all that these new experiences bring with them. I can’t wait to hear your voice and get to talk about everything.