Being Mindful in a Dynamic Environment
Author: Katie Cass, B Watch, College of the Holy Cross
February 24, 2022
We are now truly underway, South enough of the Hawaiian island chain to experience the large swells and Pacific tradewinds. The most important lesson of the day has been mindfulness regarding life in this dynamic environment. Rougher seas are causing constant rocking of the boat, making everyday tasks like brushing your teeth and tying your shoes seem like nearly impossible feats. This is clearly nothing new or unusual to the tall ship sailing world, as the adaptions and strategies used by the ship and pro crew continue to impress and intrigue me.
Moving Around the Ship:
I woke up this morning and quickly realized I could no longer just roll out of my bunk and be on the move. I carefully climbed to the floor and clung to hand rails in order to shuffle my way to the galley for breakfast.
I received advice at breakfast from crew members about staying upright and successfully put it to use during my morning watch. Walking along deck, I focussed on maintaining a centered stance and took note of when the boat was rocking in each direction. As long as I focussed on timing, walking in between the moments when the larger swells rocked the boat further to one side, I felt confident maneuvering around the deck. You could say I have started to gain my sea legs.
Deploying Research Gear:
I was working in lab during my morning watch which meant I got to help with collection of water and plankton samples. We deployed a phytoplankton net to collect phytoplankton samples, a nueston net to collect other planktonic organism samples, and the carousel to collect water samples from different depths for a number of different tests. These deployments are usually generally straightforward but 6 foot swells definitely complicated the process. We persevered by clipping ourselves to the deck with harnesses and using clear communication to ensure the nets were being dragged from the ship correctly and the carousel was being lowered and raised swiftly without swinging into the boat. All samples were successfully collected and processed and I am excited to see the final results.
Eating meals underway has also been a significant adjustment. Cat, the steward, has been awesome about keeping meals delicious and exciting, without making anything that might upset our stomachs. We had oatmeal this morning with a wide variety dried and fresh fruit options to add on and homemade falafels and pita bread with a refreshing watermelon salad for lunch. The food itself is not much of an adjustment from my usual eating habits but the tables on which it is served has been the challenge. Because the boat is always moving, the tables are on hinges and stay flat while the boat rocks. This gives the appearance that they are rotating side to side vigorously with platters of food balancing on top. The food stays on them securely due to gravity but if someone were to lose their balance or put their elbow on the table while eating, everything would be sent flying into the air. This very situation occurred for the first time this morning, luckily after everyone had finished their breakfasts, but I sense this will not be the last time.
We had class this afternoon (@1430) out on the quarter deck. We went over some daily reports and then learned about the proper procedure for slowing the boat in order to do science gear deployments. Our classroom needs to be able to change at a moment's notice because of weather and the need for lab and sail handling demonstrations so we have handheld whiteboards where we prepare important points and diagrams to present and take with us. Today, a squall came in quickly and we needed to halt class to put away the whiteboards and grab our rain gear before the demonstrations. I have quickly discovered that learning in a dynamic environment keeps things interesting and I can't wait to see what new obstacles we are able to overcome going forward.
Hi From the Middle of the Pacific!
To friends and family, I miss you all! Cara, good luck with the end of your basketball season! To Shaun, I hope you're having fun at school! To Mom and Dad, thank you for helping make this experience a possibility and don't forget to give Cassie a hug for me!
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We love reading the student blogs and seeing the photos. We look forward to checking the location and the blogs daily.
Greetings Team, especially Katie. Keep the blogs coming they are so great. We miss you but know this is your dream opportunity. Wishing calm stomachs and swells for you all. Love Mom, Dad, Cara, Shaun and of course Cassie