A Thimble of Gimbals

October 20, 2021

Alec Duffy, A-Watch, Walter M. Williams High School

Student (Camilla) deploys Pete the UNICORN.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Student (Camilla) deploys Pete the UNICORN.

Ship's Log

Noon Position
37° 02.5’ N 059° 54.2’ W

Ship Heading
Hove To

Ship Speed
3 knots

Taffrail Log
934.3 nm

Weather / Sail Plan
Hove to on a port tack under the Mainstays’l; Wind WF6G7; Seas WxN 16-18 ft.

Description of location
North Sargasso Sea

Souls on Board

Today we find ourselves as nothing but a thimble of gimbals, tilting amongst the crashing waves of the vast ocean. Just as us students were finding our sea legs at last, we are once again caught off balance amidst some 12 to 20 ft waves. Our predicament unfortunately leaves us hove to until the weather and seas die down. Standing and sitting have become a challenge, let alone making our way around the ship.

Captain Allison oversees Student (Kayla) helming the ship through a squall

I personally feel like a feeble, newborn giraffe stumbling throughout the corridors. It's highly entertaining, though I entirely sympathize, watching how people manage the new and intense turbulence of our surroundings. Different people have different methods of moving around: some crawl across the walls like Spider-Man, some ping-pong back and forth, and some slide from wall to wall like children learning how to ice skate, everyone doing their best to keep at least one handhold within arm's reach at all times. I find myself bouncing along the same wall the way a tennis ball would roll after being gently tossed.

Due to these conditions, we've also witnessed a spontaneous combustion of all the ships bananas, in what we've dubbed "The Great Banana Massacre." The exact circumstances surrounding the explosion of bananas are still a mystery, and the remains still haunt the hammock from whence they burst. As people are finally adjusting to their seaward schedule, it's interesting to watch how they spend their newfound spare time to cope with the mundanity, or rather the utter lack thereof, of day to day life on a tall ship. Some read, some sleep, some journal, some work, some strum one musical instrument or another lamenting how they cannot remember that one line of lyric to a particular song. Others terrorize the rest of the populace with their incessant whirs of electric toothbrushes and blatant disregard for peace.

I wonder if this recently sprung free time is what caused sailors to pursue such irregular terminologies in reference to otherwise everyday concepts or constructs. It's not the kitchen, it's the galley; it's not the toilet, it's the head; it's not the refrigerator, it's the reefer; it's the not the wall, it's the bulkhead; it's not the ceiling, it's the tippy-toppy-opposite-floor. Technically we call it the overhead, but I beg to differ considering the number of other things on this ship using the term "head."

Student (Camilla) deploys Pete the UNICORN.

Student (Camilla) deploys Pete the UNICORN.

Sailors and scientists seem to have a shared love of acronyms, I've already made one for the float I'm using for my experiment where I dangle different types of debris into the water to watch biofouling. It's the Underwater Nautical Identification of Colonizing Organisms in Radicalized Niches, or the UNICORN (I definitely didn't name it that because it looks exactly like a unicorn. we also call him Pete.)

Another fascinating part of the ship is, due to the wear of voyages past, how the harder you look, the weirder things get. This law is particularly punctuated by our lovely science lab. Each day I'm in there, I find a new oddity amongst the organized chaos, whether that's corner Barbie, hand crab, or the man hanging for dear life across one of the monitors lightly splattered with googly eyes. I fear what depths of sanity must be reached before one begins paper-macheing myctophids. I pray we either never reach that point, or find it as soon as possible.

- Alec Duffy, A Watch

P.S. From the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, love you Nanja!!
P.P.S. Mom & Dad I love you, and you better send so many pictures of Lucky, Poot, and Blinky that I cannot use my phone for a week while all the images flood in!
P.P.P.S. Daniel, Hannah, Lea, and Shin, I miss you besties :')
P.P.P.P.S. Hi Jordan's Dad 🙂

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