Barbarian Days; A Surfing Sailing Life

June 7, 2023

Carolina Auerbach, A Watch & Claremont McKenna College

Sea turtle captured right in frame with our quadrat!

Ship's Log

Noon Position
20°37.1’ N, 156°26.9’ W

Ship Heading:
Anchored by Makena Beach, Maui

Calm weather with light winds from the Southeast, 31° Celsius

Souls on Board

All blogs from S-309

There is no greater feeling than starting your day by looking down at your watch to be notified that, not only have you slept 8 hours and 9 minutes, but you have received a 91 on your sleep score for that night (the perks of anchor watch). At least, after almost a week into living on the Robert C. Seamans, that was the most glorious way to be woken up. Boat life has completely rewritten my natural schedule and circadian rhythms, an adjustment that I’ve found to be a needed break from life back on the mainland.I rewarded my early awakening with a leisurely start to my day: brushing my teeth up on deck accompanied by the glassy Pacific and Maui (and Randy) and brought my current book (Barbarian Days) up on deck. It is my seventh time reading this masterpiece but it somehow gets better every time. There has got to be a metaphor for life in there somewhere but I don’t feel quite so inclined to go searching for it. I’ve grown fond of this anchor point as the clear water and lack of swell and wind allows you to look over the railing all the way down into the 50 ft. or so of water and observe the fish. For breakfast we had tacos, or burritos, it was a pick your own poison meal to help fuel us through a busy day of research. And coffee, always coffee.Port was on anchor watch this morning while starboard went out on the small boats for their research snorkel. This allowed for sufficient tomfoolery to take place on the boat in between the half-hour anchor checks, hourly boat and weather checks, help in the galley, and morning chores. We had a mid-morning swim call which involved a mild jellyfish sting (I’ve lost count of them at this point) but, ultimately, was exactly what I needed. Back on the quarter deck, we pondered Locke and Hobbes’ philosophies of humans and our distaste for inaccurate judgements of good and bad. That was, of course, after our discussion on currencies as social constructs and their ability to both benefit and destroy society. Then the mid-morning chips and salsa came out and we figured the tortilla crunching silence would suffice for the rest of our conversation. When starboard came back from their snorkel, we were somehow rewarded with a second swim call. The inflatable alligator came out for this one which of course meant battling to the bitter end for space aboard its back which ultimately led to all of us getting pushed off and the floaty being the only true winner. We ate a glorious feast of various soups and salads to refuel for lunch that was eaten alongside the standard prandial banter from the students and crew, although in all honesty, we are beginning to function as one cohesive unit. Alas, there was still much to get to and so we were obliged to carry on with our daily meanderings.Next up on the schedule was Port watch’s turn to go out for reef surveys. After reviewing our snorkel plans one last time, we lathered ourselves with the blood of our enemies (heaps of reef safe sunscreen), 50 pound chain-link armor (our rash guards, snorkels, and fins), and mounted our steeds (the rescue boats that look as if they might sink). We charged into battle against our transects, photo quadrats, and chemistry data bottles and probably won. I cannot confirm as we have yet to analyze all of our data but I like to believe we came out victorious. Urchins, goatfish, Hawaiian white-spotted tobys, cardinal fish, and unfortunately, no octopuses (although Starboard watch spotted two on their snorkel).This afternoon was busy but lovely. We all gathered in the main salon to finish up our data collection and analysis from today’s snorkel and came back up on the quarterdeck for our daily muster and reef debrief.I’ve grown to love the little moments in-between since getting on this vessel. The brief time in between the afternoon heat and the sunset in which the ocean is kissed by the sun’s gentle beams and the islands are softened in the shadows. The wind is gentle but you learn to love the breeze after a day of non-stop and humid heat. Friends are perched atop the doghouse sitting with their thoughts, or lack thereof, who am I to say? Some are finishing their books and running to discuss the ending with fellow readers. Some are finishing up anchor checks and heaving lines. But the air is quiet, and we all fall a bit silent as we wait for the triangle to sing through the boat announcing dinner.We finished the night by watching the sunset atop the doghouse and laughed until our stomachs hurt for the remaining of the evening. I find myself truly amazed at how the people around me transformed from strangers into shipmates and incredible friends within the span of weeks, if not days. I am fortunate enough to not be on watch until 0700 tomorrow but hope to get enough rest tonight to get me through our turbulent passage tomorrow. We are headed for the Big Island where a new set of adventures awaits us and I cannot contain my jubilance. If you have made it this far, I commend your elongated attention span and apologize for any grammatical and spelling errors I may have made, sleep is a rare commodity upon a ship and sanity is for life on land. I shall bid you farewell until the next time we may speak. Or not, that just felt like a cool way to end this ramble of my thoughts.I would like to finish my blog off by sending my best wishes and happy birthday to Isabella. I love you so much and am super bummed to be missing celebrating your 24th birthday but I hope you are having an amazing time in Torino with mom and the nonni. I know it’s already the 8th or maybe even 9th by the time you are reading this but I hope you got the flowers and I will call you as soon as I get home. Love you!p.s. Hello to mom and dad, I miss you tremendously but am having an incredible time! Talia, sending love and hugs to London. Owen, I hope the mustache has grown back.p.s To Makenna’s mom, we won’t get our phones back until Sunday but Makenna is alive and well. Thanks for having such a cool daughter, we love her.Carolina Auerbach, A Watch & Claremont McKenna College

Dinner views from the quarter deck.

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