Dawn, Data, Drills, Dusk

Author: Sofia, C Watch, Bard College

Two Humpback Whales Spout Off the Starboard Quarter

Two Humpback Whales Spout Off the Starboard Quarter

Ship's Log

Noon Position
19° 45.41’ N x 68° 37.90’ W

Ship Heading

Taffrail Log
939.8 nm

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan (from 1300 Watch Change)
Fair weather with wind ExS, Motorsailing

On the way to Silver Bank!

Souls on Board

What a day. A long, one, sure, but more importantly, a day positively brimming with activities and new experiences. C was positioned to take the Watch at 0100, so I was up and (albeit a smidge groggily) ready to roll at 0030. Water bottle, foulies, and headlamp in hand, I made my way up to the deck to begin my position as a labbie for the morning.

Our rotation began with some good ole’ Neustie processing (side note question and hypothesis for the people- why are all of our nautical/ boat life words shortened? Foulies, labbies, Neustie, mid. rats., foc’s’l, s’l, l’n…. My thoughts on the matter? I think we’re all just tired enough at the end of the day that the extra letter, the final syllable, simply requires a finite amount of energy that remains a touch beyond our capacities. Nautical lore might suggest a different story, but only one of us holds the mighty Cramer Blog Pen.)

Back to the lab! After sorting, weighing, and chronicling our tow contents, we prepared our science report for the afternoon and ran some nutrient processing. Amid all of this sciency sciencing, cruise ships veered on and off the horizon (not unlike my own pingpalling (ping pong balling? pinballing? pin palling?) gait up on deck when we hit large swells), squalls showed their angry faces, the Cramer valiantly sailed through eddies, and sails were set, struck, and tended by the all-knowing hands of the mates and sometimes-knowing hands of us students. The watch ended with a nice total and absolute downpour (so. much. water. everywhere), but as C Watch are the lucky ones, we got to escape to breakfast and leave the slippery deck in the hands of A.

And what a breakfast it was (woot woot and all the praise to Will and Bird!): English muffins, eggs, a nice soy breakfast sausage for us veggies… all the yum (that’s for you Nicole. And putting it out there now- you get to ask about exactly five meals I’ve had upon my return. I will not recount 45 days of food to satiate your curious appetite of asking people what they have eaten for dinner). After breakfast comes bed, naturally. And hand to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (looking at you, Fidati), that morning nap after Dawn Watch is the most fulfilling sleep on the boat.

Only a few minutes after awaking from my marvelous slumber, a joyous cry was heard from the deck. “WHALES! Close to the boat!” Now of course one hears this and wants to clamor up the ladder at near light speed, but this being a boat and all wherein you are oft reminded that water moves and thus so do ankles, I (with upmost poise and grace- see “pingpalling,” above) scurried up the ladder to the science deck. And “whales- close to the boat” means little until you actually lay eyes on said whales close to said boat… two humpback whales swam within meters of the hull, so close to the surface that their bodies etched a brilliant teal against the deeper blue water around them.

Some salty sea advice for you from the wizened old sailor that I am fast becoming… if one chooses to focus their Oceanography research project on cetaceans, you basically get priority seating whenever they come to play. Consistently I’ve heard “Is Sofia here?” or “Does Sofia know there’s whales off the (insert boat positioning)?” There’s nothing much better then being required to look for whales and dolphins for school.

Once the humpbacks grew tired of our paparazzi presence and dove away, it was time for lunch- another incredible Bird/ Will production. No sooner had we began to eat our enchiladas than that thrilling “Whales, again!” call was once again heard in the main salon. Up we scurried, photographed, smiled and clapped at this new pod. When they invariably also decided to move along, we all settled back into the afternoon. Watch for B, homework for me. At 1430 came Afternoon Class, and as a lucky Dawn Watch labbie, I got to present the science report (oo ah, science report!) with my shipmate, Sil.

As we are on our way to Silver Bank (and hopefully more whales), we needed to prep the crew on a more advanced cetacean sighting form. Then on to the main event for the afternoon- drills! We practice our emergency drills weekly- safety first, kiddos- and today focused on a fire drill and abandon ship drill.

After our hypothetical fire was safely extinguished and our crew theoretically adrift amid the Caribbean Sea, class ended and I returned to my homework. Perhaps worth noting that it was Fun Bun Friday, so I soon greeted dinner with Leia buns on my head and steamed bao buns on my plate.

And lo and behold, halfway through dinner… you guessed it. “Dolphins!”

Repeat ladder, deck, oh-my-gosh-they’re-so-cute, ladder, return to meal, etc.

On to Evening Watch! For this later watch I was stationed on deck, so after a brilliant sunset (as they often are) I saw the hours pass by amidst sail handling, steering, and the hourly boat checks and weather observations. I ended the rotation at the bow doing lookout, my chief responsibility requiring a close eye for potential hazards along our route. I quickly found that this job is easily complicated by monstrous squally clouds that smudge away the horizon line. And what a wild ride we got- slanting rain, whistling wind, a jagged strike of lightening off the bow. Bit of a moment up there by the head rig. But not unlike the morning almost 20 hours prior, A Watch came to relieve us just as the weather decided to get comfortable and settle in for the long haul. Best of luck to them, but I’m off to bed!


Baci baci to 417 (but mainly Charcoal)

Hi Goose! I love and miss you! <3 Orly

Hi to Jenna’s mom and aunt!

Sofia, C Watch, Bard College

Contact: Douglas Karlson, Director of Communications, 508-444-1918 | dkarlson@sea.edu

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