First Swim Call!
Author: Nadia Racz, C Watch, Saint Michael’s College
18°21.71’N 064° 44.9’W
48.07 nm total
Wind ExNE F4, calm 1 ft waves
0.20 nm North of America Point in Francis Bay, St John
Today had its high moments and its low moments, but all together it was a great day. Port watch’s (my watch) day started at 0600 with a wake-up call and a 0620 breakfast. I had my first full night’s sleep without waking up for anchor check duty, so I felt well rested. At 0700 we headed up on deck for watch with the intent to leave port at 0730. We did chores and then created a schedule for boat checks. We also had our first field day where we give the boat a little extra cleaning. Then we began getting ready to get underway.
We were informed by the crew that the motor that brings up our anchor was not working. Our crew spent a lot of time trying to get the motor working with no luck. This meant that we had to haul up the anchor using the windlass which is a manual way of getting the anchor up. We had three and a half shots of anchor chain out. One shot equals 90 feet of chain. Our anchor is about 500 lbs. You can imagine how much effort it was going to take to get this anchor up.
We had two people on each side cranking the bar around. The bar is at an awkward angle. The actual moving of the bar is easy, but the leg work out from squatting is the hard part. I was in the first group of people to start. When I realized how easy moving the bar was, I thought, oh no big deal this will be easy. When I was taking a break, I looked at the chain and my heart broke. For every stroke, the chain only moved a little bit. The realization came to me that this was going to be a long process. Teamwork and grit were the only way we were going to get it done.
I thought about my shipmates and knew that we were up for the challenge. Pumpkin bread and Gatorade from the galley to help us get through. We made sure that everyone got a break when they needed one and stayed well hydrated. After about two and a half hours of exhausting work we finally had the anchor back to the boat.
While doing this we also were doing anchor and boat checks as well as getting prepped for our snorkel surveys tomorrow. I helped label some of the chemistry bottles. These samples need to be processed quickly after collection to get the most accurate data so getting prepped the day before is key. Now it was time to head to Francis Bay. I got to be on the forward lookout by the bowsprit. My job was to warn the helm at the back of the boat, where the motor control and steering happens, of any traffic. It was a busy day in the water, so I had to always stay attentive. We had many boats come close to us to admire our boat, but it made me quite nervous.
I was relieved from my duties up front, and I went on a boat check and then helped with Galley cleanup. Then it was time for turnover of watches and lunch. Port watch was completely exhausted from our busy morning. Though we had help from some of Starboard watch and crew the busy morning took a lot out of us. We had a very quiet lunch and then I hopped in the shower. I don’t know if I have ever been more desperate to shower. Then I was ready for a nap, but we had a meeting soon, so I decided to stay awake, and I am glad I did.
At the meeting we discussed community notes. It has been a while since we have had an all hands meeting so there was a lot to discuss. One highlight was that we have been on the boat for five days so we can now walk around barefoot. We were required to wear shoes while we were getting used to the boat and where things are. We then debriefed from our snorkel yesterday talking about what went well and what we can improve on.
Then came the highlight of the day. Captain Kevin informed us that we were going to have our first swim call. This is an opportunity for us to jump off the boat into the water. I am pictured above preparing to jump off the bowsprit which I did three times. Huge shoutout to Amadi for capturing these great photos. I wanted to go more but I was too tired from the workout earlier in the day. I also know/ hope that we will have more opportunities to do this. This was definitely the morale boost that my shipmates and I needed.The laughs we shared as we encouraged our shipmates to make the leap brought us all closer together.
I am now sitting here reflecting on the one heck of the day I have had with probably the lowest point and the highest point of the trip thus far. In the future I know that I will hit more low points, but I can look back on today and remember that there will likely be a higher point to come. I am so grateful for my shipmates who get me through the long days and nights. I do not know what I would do without them. I know that this journey has only just begun, and I am so excited for what is to come.
- Nadia Racz, C Watch, Saint Michael’s College
P.S. To my family and friends back home: I love and miss you all. I am having the time of my life and I can’t wait to share more when I get back. Give the pups a big hug for me.
Contact: Douglas Karlson, Director of Communications, 508-444-1918 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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