What a freaking day! “It was electric,” as Mikey, C Watch, reflects. After a morning breakfast (if you woke up) of eggs, potatoes, watermelon, and a lot of siracha (if you were me), B watch relieved A watch and confidently took the deck. However, arguably, the day started even earlier when a few shipmates stayed up late to scheme a few surprises for Stella’s birthday --Happy birthday Stella!
June 15th was an especially memorable day on S309’s Pacific Reef Expedition. The energy, from the start, was magnetic; in addition to Stella’s birthday, we had finally begun sailing, truly, without a motor, and were expected to anchor in Kauai --the last island on our voyage!
Therefore, the stakes for B-watch this morning were high, for we were scheduled during the final bit of cruise trek before our anchorage. We started with a bit of sail handling (B watch is made up of, arguably, the best sail handlers on the trip), and took down (stowed, as us sailors say) the Topsail and Course in a few swift maneuvers. After, we had to clip in and climb onto the bow to furl the gib (fold the gib into a burrito, as Izzy, our deck hand, so eloquently explained to us), and then prepared the deck for some science deployments. Then, after some kinda stressful but very rewarding oceanography research deployments, some dolphins came by to congratulate us and to wish Stella a happy birthday! A pod of about 5 or 6 of, arguably, the most majestic dolphins we’ve ever seen, swarmed the bow of the ship, as if welcoming us to the island of Kauai! We gave an equally as warm welcome back, for the majority of us raced to the bow (practically hanging off the side) to get a good look at our new friends. However, unfortunately, during the excitement, my sunglasses fell off the side of the ship and into the water, something that I am still having difficulty coming to terms with now. Please forgive me, ocean, it was an accident!
Soon after, we anchored offshore of Kauai (I, personally, was dead asleep during the entire process, but it seemed to have gone smoothly), some students climbed aloft, and we began to settle in to our final stop on the trek. Personally, while indeed I love to sail, I particularly enjoy anchorages because it is a time period were everyone from the ship can truly come together. As we embark on the final days of our expedition, quality time has become a top priority. The group here is truly incredible, and I know that each and every one of us has curated lasting friendships that will last a lifetime. That brings me back around to Stella’s birthday; after sesame crusted tuna, coconut rice, and veggies for dinner, we all gathered on the quarter deck to give Stella a proper 19th birthday celebration! Dewey, with the help of a few backup singers, performed an original song (ballad, rather, as he regarded), and then we gave Stella her gifts: a homemade card and an empty jar of (off-brand) Nutella, cleaned and full of notes about all of the things we love about her (with a few jokes added as well).
We ended the night with some intense, sometimes heated (we are a competitive group) games of Mafia. Moments like those, late-night and post-dinner, where we come together on deck, under the starts, phoneless, and just with each other, enjoying the present moment, are ones that my heart aches over already. While life on the ship is not always easy, it is always rewarding. The community here will be something that I cherish and will miss for the rest of my life.
Happy Birthday Stella, and shout out to my parents (who have informed me that they are actually reading!) and friends. See you guys so soon!
Sam Roberts, B Watch, Fordham