Crafting at Sea

July 30, 2023

Becca Cox, S299, Deckhand- C Watch

Becca Cox out on the bowsprit

Ship's Log

Lat 10°47.0’S x Long 178°19.7’W (somewhere in the Pacific Ocean)

Sunny, a faintly visible waxing gibbous moon, a few squall clouds in the distance, and an accompanying rainbow!

Souls on Board

All blogs from S-310

What is it about the Robert C. Seamans that makes me want to craft so much? Part of it may be the homey-ness of the boat: the drawings of creatures and constellations in the heads; the colorful signs outside the library and crew cabins; the student paintings hung up in the lab; the Polynesian carvings from places the ship has visited previously. There is a general appreciation for the art of others on board and an eagerness to make this ship our own through the way we decorate and occupy it. Or maybe it’s the fact that wherever you wander on board, you can find a tantalizing tool for crafting: the lazarette has its bag full of fabric and retired leather; the bosun’s locker has glue and awls, wire and thread; the third drawer down in the salon is practically overflowing with watercolors and embroidery floss. Above all, I think it’s that the community is filled with creative people. Whenever I pull out my collage materials, I find myself quickly surrounded by fellow artists with their crochet projects or origami paper or journals. Everyone on board is also excited to teach each other and support one another when trying out a new medium: Sil taught many of us how to make origami birds; Julius hopped onto my collage poem bandwagon; and I’ve already asked Emily to teach me how to crochet one of her adorable turtles.Crafting at sea also requires that you get creative with your materials. You’ll be darning your socks or sweaters with a sail needle and hemming with sail thread. Keep your water bottle from skidding with some leather! (Thanks, Morgo. <3) And don’t try using paint marker liquid as printmaking ink…I’ve made that mistake. Old charts are perfect for cards and envelopes. You can fix your sunglasses with dental floss. Wood glue is the answer to everything. I enjoy the challenge of limited materials, and the connection to this place and time that I can see in the materials I’ve used. It’s why I often turn to collage poetry during “small craft advisory,” what we’ve started calling craft time, when a group of us sets up shop on the sole of Sleepy Hollow [a section of bunks on the ship], sitting amongst an explosion of old charts and passing scissors and glue sticks back and forth, chattering away. The poems I piece together in my corner of this creative mess are made up of words I’ve found on scrap paper in the charthouse or in an old magazine in the library to try to express something I’m feeling. Our crafts keep us grounded out here in the middle of nowhere, at the same time that they empower us to explore new ideas. I’ve included a transcript of a collage poem, made with original and found words/phrases, below.Collage Poem #???, 7/30/2023 (a work in progress)Going to sea is not a chance to become like a fishamongst the waves and currents,but a chance to humble yourself to the ocean.We enter another world where I,the amateur violinist,concede to the birds as the truemusicians, artists, poets, mapmakers, thinkers.In this final frontier,unseen and little understood,we think about who we are, how we arrived where we are today.Do I belong here?Though humans have left this ancient system that the ocean reveals,one of balance with the Earth?But there is belonging here,at sea,where I have foundStrength.        Adventure.                Camaraderie.                        Laughter.                                Life.                                        The power to navigate whateverwilderness I find myself in.Becca Cox S299, Deckhand C Watch

Deckhands Morgan (left) and Izzy on the quarterdeck sewing leather and cloth, using a star guide for the design.

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One Comment

  1. Maya Gabelberger August 6, 2023 at 18:04 - Reply

    I loved your topic of crafting! – I learned sooo much, like for example that wood glue is the ship version of duct tape, LOL! I love that your collage-ing is so supportive and community building to the whole group having fun creating! (Of course I love that Julius jumped into this with you !) I love your poem “a chance to humble yourself to the ocean.” “concede to the birds as the true musicians, artists…” I love the feeling of self empowerment and oneness/connection with all ” The power to navigate whatever wilderness I find myself in.” I love the image of a group of you sitting together on the deck amidst an explosion of creative materials and projects! Thank you so much for sharing this!

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