Hello friends and family,
As an assistant steward, I was not asked to stand watch with my group yesterday. Instead I was woken up at 5:30 to help with breakfast. Even when Ger and I prepared three snacks and two more meals, I enjoyed of a lot of free time during the daylight hours which allowed me to help with marine mammal surveys and appreciate the spectacle given by Mother Nature for as long as it lasted. As we retrieved the hydrophone from the water, the broadcast of whale songs slowly vanished, marking the end of our time at Silver Bank. As we sail away, I linger on the emotions and the magnificent feeling of sharing both place and time with these giants. Whales, whales and more whales, were our companion these days spreading joy, smiles and tears, making our hearts beat faster and souls feel renewed.
Sargassum accessories for gallery day, left to right: MJ, Janet, Kevin and Jeff.
Without any clock arrangements but moving west, the sunrise has moved to a rather late hour. A great day started with a green flash as the sun slowly rose in the horizon. Morning watch (0700-1300) had begun and I was chosen to shadow our mate. This exercise is meant to give students the opportunity to learn in detail how the ship operates, the planning each watch involves, the coordination between what is happening on deck as well as any science deployments taking place during this time frame.
At least once every day we stop for science, meaning we change the sail configuration as well as the speed of our vessel to successfully accomplish our objective. We also complete hourly boat checks as well as weather and position recordings. During the first weeks, the mates are in charge of coordinating the synchrony of it all. Nevertheless, as we get more confident with the sails, the lines, the commands and the rhythm, we have the opportunity to test our knowledge and our leadership abilities in preparation for the time when we will be the ones taking the lead. It was amazing to learn more things, to dig into the details that make the ship work properly but it was also challenging. Power comes along with responsibility and thus confidence and knowledge of what is being done are required.
Moreover, taking the lead with this group of people was a wonderful experience. Everyone was willing to do every part of the work, everyone was committed and most importantly everyone was having fun. I realized that not only today but for two weeks we have been working together for a common purpose, always thinking ship, shipmates, self. Moreover, we have been doing so while sailing around the Caribbean under all different circumstances: force 7 (Beaufort Scale) winds, swells, squalls as well as light wind conditions that demand motor power to get to where we are going. I am looking forward to every day.
Half-way through this amazing journey and 70 nm away from our next stop in Great Inagua, Bahamas the warm weather and calm seas were the perfect scenario for our first 'Gallery'. After class everyone dressed in their finest clothing to attend the event on deck. We toasted with refreshing Sprite, pistachios and rice crispy and marshmallow snacks while we shared our artistic work. Journals were displayed as well as photographs, paintings and poems. Sargassum bracelets and crowns complemented the outfits and as some went back to stand watch, some others returned to their books and others engaged in conversation and song while the sun slowly disappeared in the horizon, closing the circle of another wonderful day.
- Natalia Atuesta, C Watch, Universidad de los Andes
P.S. T hugs and kisses to my beautiful family. Get yourself ready for never-ending stories. Los amo!
P.P.S Pau, I can't wait to tell you everything about these Atlantic giants. Following our adventures in Choco, new Humpback Whale breeding grounds are waiting for us. Elena, I hope Egypt is treating you well. Majo, keep doing the fantastic job you do, believe me, I have seen its immense value.