Close Quarters

March 1, 2020

Greta Nelson, B watch, Vassar College

Sun rise


Ship's Log

Present Location
15° 19.8’ N x 061° 33.2’ W

Ship’s Heading, Speed and Sail Plan
Offshore Dominica, winds coming from the East sailing with the four lowers and cruising at around 5 knots.

Entering into a high pressure system as we move north, clear night skies for star gazing tonight!

Souls on Board

All blogs from C-290

I woke up this morning after one of those rare nights with nine hours of sleep, and peered out of bunk. Looking through the crack of my burgundy curtains, I saw the familiar scene of the main salon. Perhaps someone reading, definitely someone drawing, some left over breakfast food left out for the latecomers and a student on watch passing through on an hourly boat check. Inside my bunk I felt some sand on my sheets left over from a few days on land in Bequia and smelled salt, sweat and industrial strength laundry detergent from the damp cloths hanging around me. I rubbed my eyes and thought really hard about getting up, hoping that eventually I would find the energy to extract myself from my hole in the side of the Corwith Cramer.



We live in very close proximity to each other, and we live in very close proximity to ourselves. The number of times I bump into one of my shipmates in a day almost matches the number of times I bump into myself or bounce off the walls of the moving ship. If you ever want or need to do something that requires detailed work or stability, you better find a place to wedge yourself in. For instance today we had some beautiful sailing weather. We were making eight knots heading north to Dominica and I was posted in the lab counting Sargassum. The heel of this ship made it so that I have to wedge myself between the counter and the freezer to keep my brain focused on the piles and piles of brown algae in front of me and not thinking about which direction my body would flail next. The need to fit my body into small spaces to find stability has helped to make this one-hundred-and-thirty-four foot vessel feel so much larger than it is. I suppose like every class that came before us and all those who come after, we’ve created our own big world out here on this tiny ship in the sea.

I am back in my bunk after a long day, a full day. My body is sore, my hands are rough from washing dishes and hauling lines, and my eyes are drooping even as I write. Anticipating doing it all over again tomorrow, it sounds exhausting. Tomorrow very well may be exhausting, challenging and frustrating at times. However, it will most definitely be beautiful and full of some of the best people I know.

With warmth and gratitude,


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