Be Where your Feet Are
March 11, 2020
Olivia Lord, 3rd Assistant Scientist
18° 08.8’N x 64° 42.8’W
Ship’s Heading, Speed, and Sail Plan
c/o 015° psc, sailing on a starboard tack with the four lowers set
Winds ESE/4, seas 4 ft, skies 3/8 with cumulus clouds
At precisely 11:43 this morning, C watch piled onto the elephant table amongst the sails alongside their current watch officers, Kevo, Geoff, and I, for our routine watch meeting - a tradition that occurs before every afternoon watch. The Cramer once more surrounded by land and calm waters, Virgin Gorda to the east, Tortola to the west, bright skies and blue-tinged cumulus clouds above.
In these watch meetings we get the chance to enjoy each other's company for a brief moment without the extra duties of the watch and, most importantly, to share our feelings, as Fiona and I love to do. After each of us had a moment to speak and the lunch triangle had been rung, urgently spelling our next task, I took the chance to close our meeting with a favorite quote of mine:
"Be where your feet are." Throughout the trip, in watch meetings with A and B watches, I shared this quote as well, but this time, as our longest leg and soon our whole C-290 trip come to a close, it seems especially pertinent.
Life onboard the Cramer, being such a tangible and relatively simple environment with fewer distractions, often lends itself to being present. Whether we're peering at dolphins from our perch on the bowsprit, writing metaphorical Winnie the Pooh stories about our watchmates, counting Sargassum to reach enlightenment, or having a full moon party on the quarterdeck with the hydrophone speaker broadcasting sounds of the sea. It's in experiences like these that we stop worrying about the future or mulling over the past and realize it's the subtle moments and the small details that matter.
At the start of this leg, when we were hove to off of Dominica and heard news that we would be staying underway for longer than expected, it immediately felt like a hard pivot for staff and students alike, battling prior expectations with a new reality. At the time, I believed instead that it was a blessing, one that would lead to deeper connections and learning as we stayed in the rhythm of at-sea watches and left behind the distractions of bustling port stops. It was a chance, from my perspective, to remain more present. And over the course of this leg, these students have inspired me in so many ways, but as Geoff also mentioned, perhaps most significantly in their resilience and positive spirit. From this time underway, I can easily speak to moments of presence with each and every one of my shipmates, but here I'll speak to just a few:
With Savi, climbing aloft together on the foremast as we passed Redonda, discussing the nuances of reading the wind on the water while holding on for dear life (at least on my part). With Leena, as we left Grenada, nerding out over seabirds after her Island Mass Effect presentation and then witnessing her first tropic bird sighting just yesterday. With Jessie, sitting on the port side deckboxes amid whales breaching, talking about gender and its relation to life on tall ships. With Greta and Dillon, having late night conversations about parallel universes and reincarnation and discussing the word "meep" as a meme. With Peter, Jeff, and Will, and a number of shipmates, watching perhaps the most beautiful sunrise I've ever seen off the starboard side as we made our way north towards the Puerto Rico Trench.
When we are present, we allow ourselves to experience every moment more fully, to greater appreciate the company of our shipmates and friends, and to become more in tune with our surroundings and therefore ourselves. As we pull into Francis Bay tomorrow in order to spend some time in the USVIs before our final sail to St. Croix, I can guarantee I will be focusing on being present and enjoying the company of the C-290 crew. All while encouraging my shipmates to be where your feet are.
- Olivia Lord, 3rd Assistant Scientist
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