A Day in the Life of a Captain at Sea
April 24, 2023
Captain Allison, Class S186, A Watch, Colgate University
3°49.6’N x 147°06.9’W
1900 nautical miles
Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Wind NE/15kts, squalls in vicinity, four lowers with shallow-reefed mains’l and JT
Description of location
In the midst of the ITCZ, about halfway between the Marquesas and Hawaii
As the Captain, I get to see a lot of every day. This is what I’ve been up to in the past 24 hours:I was up last night during the Evening Watch with A Watch for a meter net from 2230-0000 and got to see some pyrosomes in the bucket after the tow before going to bed. During the Dawn Watch, I was woken up to be notified about some squalls as we motored overnight and I trusted the Chief Mate, Rocky, with B Watch, to handle the ship appropriately. He told me later that we snuck through in between a couple of large cells. After my wakeup at 0600, I went on deck to give some instruction about starting to sail. It was a beautiful morning by breakfast time with some puffy cumulus clouds and a couple excited watchstanders who had gotten a star fix from only a few stars poking through the clouds. I collected some weather info at the beginning of the Morning Watch with C Watch and called the office after breakfast. They set the JT soon after which gave us a good boost all day with the NE breeze. I took a long nap in the morning – I must have needed it! – and was up in time to help with LAN (Local Apparent Noon) just before 1200 Ship Time. I had taught the deckhands how to calculate LAN by hand yesterday during class and one of them showed an eager student how to do it today while I ate lunch. This afternoon, with the Afternoon Watch and A Watch, started with one squall after another and my captain colleagues ashore confirmed that we were indeed in a convergence zone, part of the ITCZ. The squall cells had some wind (25kts steady) and plenty of rain but we rode them all out just fine. The deck likes the fresh water, and many of the crew do, too! We tucked a single reef in the mains’l (making it smaller) during class and the watch took in the JT an hour later, just in time for a large dark squall that built up behind and around us. We’ve been seeing lots of fishing vessels and gear since yesterday morning and during class we were hailed by a nearby vessel to shift our course to avoid some gear, just as we were reefing the mains’l. After dinner, I got some weather information from the satellite email (GRIB file and weather faxes – streamline and wind/wave analysis) and wrote the Night Orders for B Watch and C Watch before going to bed. They’ll probably skip the Neuston tow tonight because of the squall activity and sea state. The swell that kicked up earlier in the week out of the NE is still with us and rolling in at 8 ft or so which just makes the ship move around more than we’ve seen so far. I’m able to stay in my chair at the computer here in the aft cabin so the motion isn’t so bad but it may be a bumpy night all the same. I expect to be woken up at least a couple times tonight, usually on the Dawn Watch, and it will all start again tomorrow! Captain Allison, Class S186, A Watch, Colgate University P.S. - Happy Birthday, Mom! I’ve been thinking about you all day!
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Ah, the captain’s life! Never a dull moment. It was great reading this, and it reminded me that if I ever go to sea, it will be as a ship’s boy. No higher rank, thank you very much.