Bonus Blog

March 1, 2018

Laurel Sheufelt, B Watch, The Evergreen State College

Myself climbing the rigging for the first time

Myself climbing the rigging for the first time

The three whales as seen from deck.

The three whales as seen from deck.

Hello All!

I'm here with a special bonus blog post today because I couldn't imagine not sharing even though I wasn't signed up to write today. Every day on board the Cramer is a full and crazy day, but today felt even more so. We had shorter watches last night due to being anchored, so I got more sleep than usual, which is lucky because otherwise I don't think I'd be upright right now.

I started my day by jumping awake at 7:15 realizing I was about to miss 7:00 breakfast (those who had the 23:00-3:00 watch the previous night aren't on until afternoon and can sleep through breakfast if they wish); so I rushed to grab food before leftovers were stowed away. After eating and taking a little bit of time to hang out on deck, I got ready to go aloft in the rigging. The first aloft training was yesterday, which I was lucky enough to partake in, so now I was free to go up during daylight hours whenever the captain or watch officer deems okay. Since we were still anchored for the morning, I was given the go ahead by the mate so went aloft for an hour to draw and look for whales before our scheduled departure.

Getting underway from Silver Bank was quite the extravagant show, as we set 4 sails in quick succession the raffe, the topsail, the course and finally the main staysail!   A Watch was happy to have a few extra so I helped to set many of these sails, and once again enjoyed being on deck.  But before long I was back up in the rigging; this time with a brand new lanyard for my journal. Both fortunately and unfortunately, I didn't get to finish my second aloft drawing for one simple reason: Whales! Now, I am a born and raised Juneauite (Translation: from Juneau, Alaska), so I'm a pretty jaded whale watcher, especially when it comes to humpbacks. However, I've never seen anything quite like the whales I saw today.

Yesterday, some of us in the first aloft group remarked on how you don't get the view of the wide ocean from the mast of a tall ship every lifetime. Well, you certainly don't see 5 whales from above, right next to your ship, every lifetime either. At one point one of my shipmates, Jordan, and I observed the backs of three whales break above the water in perfect unison, and heard the blow from their breath as it sprayed across the deck only 30 ft off the side of the ship. From aloft, you can see the whales approaching the surface, and when they do surface, well, you can see the individual bumps on their heads when they're that close. I was pretty darn close to breaking the 'no screaming while aloft' rule, but I think everyone on deck was so excited that I they probably wouldn't have heard me.

I'm almost certain I'll never be able to top that view of whales no matter how long I live. After all the excitement I had to rush down below to eat lunch and get ready for Watch, all in about 15 minutes. This afternoon it was my turn to help with dishes in the galley, but I could have washed ten thousand dishes today and still have been in a good mood. Towards the end of Watch, I got to do one of my favorite things on board (besides going aloft), which is going out into the headrig to furl the jib. After a delicious meal of mushroom pasta and a spinach salad, I also tried my hand at using a sextant to determine the ship's position using the stars.  I still need some practice but decided to save that for another time when the ship is a little less rolly.

All of that in a single day!  A rare opportunity since I was awake for a full day without any naps which are often necessary given the typical Watch rotation.  As a result waking up for Dawn Watch at 02:30 will be particularly challenging, but I have no regrets about how I spent the day. Another one of my shipmates, Meredith, described SEA Semester as having the highest highs and the lowest lows; today was one of those amazing highs.

- Laurel Sheufelt, B Watch, The Evergreen State College

P.S. Hello to family and friends! I'm still alive, still working on collecting stories to tell all y'all when I get back.

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