Getting through the Hard Days

December 13, 2023

Author: Charlotte Sakmar Aberg, Binghamton University

S312_13Dec2023_small

Fabulous A Watch!

Ship's Log

13 December 2023Current Position: 36 03.746 'S  x 178 39.919 'EShip's Heading & Speed: Currently hove to, moving 3.2 knots sidewaysWeather: 17 Celsius, windy and cloudy

Before leaving Woods Hole, Captain Allison instructed us to draw what weimagined a journey to look like. This prompt took on many forms in our groupand is something that I have found myself thinking back to as our journey inNew Zealand has progressed.The past two days have introduced us to seas that we have not seen before.The winds picked up, gusting 48 knots, and the Beaufort force grew to sevenand eight. The waves were reaching ten to fourteen feet, splashing over evenon the high side, and lightning started to appear in the clouds. Theseconditions have shown us the true power of the ocean, and have been fun tonavigate on deck and below, as we crash into walls and stumble around doingsimple tasks. Something that has been so special about our time here is thatdespite the hard routines no day is the same. Two days ago, we were in verydifferent conditions, but we continue to persevere on watch and worktogether through whatever comes our way.A theme that I have heard a lot in discussion onboard is how time goes by ona ship. The days feel long, but the weeks are short; time is slow, yet sofast. My watch often discusses this, and I find myself having conversationsabout how we might view our experiences after we leave. What will stick withus and what will disappear? How will we remember and perceive ourexperience? These are all questions that have made my time onboard special,and because of it I try to take in what I can while I can. With this, formyself and I am sure many others onboard, the little things really count.They get you through a hard watch and motivate you to keep moving forward.These are the experiences that I want to highlight, and ones that are oftenoverlooked on land when we try to recount all that we have done.Rocky, the previous mate for A Watch, read us an excerpt from "Tuning theRig" by Harvey Oxenhorn. We were about halfway through the first leg of ourvoyage, and just getting into the groove of things. The passage encompassedwhat I think a lot of us had been feeling and still are feeling as weexperience these new weather conditions, "what sticks in my mind most ofall, I said, was the longing for something - anything - to just stay put.For the deck to stop moving, for the food to sit still in the plate and theplate to sit still on the table, for the compass to stop swinging every timeI took the wheel." Being out here means constant movement and it has beenfar from easy, but at the same time creates an unforgettable environment.Sailing means that we avoid the distracting hum of a motor. We are able tohear the fizzing of bubbles in the water, the woosh of wind against thesails, and the splashing of waves against the hull. Most of the time we movesmoothly enough through the water that dolphins come up close to explore.Sailing means that night and day are sometimes flipped, and that your wakeups are no longer from the ringing of an alarm but the soft voice of yourshipmate arriving to tell you the weather and time. It means that waking upfor the day at 1 am is normal, drinking coffee at the helm at 3 am isexpected, and counting zooplankton in the lab at 4 am half asleep is part ofyour daily routine. It shows you the true darkness of night and the beautyof the stars when there are no lights for surrounding miles. Sailing meansthat eerie feeling standing up by the head rig alone on look out when thewaves are big enough to splash on deck, and the sky is so dark you can't seein front of you. At first this darkness struck me as empty, but now it hasshown me that life in the dark is even more vibrant. It is peaceful outhere, especially when the milky way comes into view and shooting stars flyacross the sky, when the bioluminescence sparkles on the side of the boatand within our nets, or when the orange moon slowly rises from the horizonfollowed by the sunrise. Sailing means hard work, and most of all acommunity who look out for each other. It turns having a simple tea breakinto a deep conversation, and inspires peoples in so many ways, that is whyour time here is so valuable.We have all experienced these things together, and yet all have differentstories to tell, like our original drawings in Woods Hole. That is myfavorite part about this journey. So, I encourage you to bring up thesetopics with your loved ones when they are back onshore so that you too canget a glimpse of their stories and experiences, especially now as wenavigate through this gale.Charlotte Sakmar Aberg,Binghamton UniversityA WatchShout outs:Jules, your letters have been such a joy to read on this journey, they havekept me positive and reminded me what amazing people I have to come backhome to. Good luck with finals and rounding up this semester!!Thank you, Mom and Dad, for your letters as well, they have been thehighlight of a lot of my days and often the little thing that gets methrough the hard ones. I look forward to opening the last one on my wayhome!And finally, safe travels to NYC Will and Louise, can't wait to see youboth!I love and miss you all so much and am excited to retell these stories inperson! Glad Lucia!

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5 Comments

  1. karina December 13, 2023 at 16:03 - Reply

    Käraste Charlotte! Vad glad jag blir när jag läser din vacker beskrivning av läget där ute på stilla havet. Tack för det! Vi saknar dig oerhört mycket och ser fram till juldagen där vi alla kommer att träffa dig igen. Hälsa hela A teamet och särskilt Diego. Stor kram från MamaKa : *}

  2. Ann Sakmar December 13, 2023 at 20:08 - Reply

    Charlotte, your article is amazing along with your journey. You are experiencing and achieving what very few young adults will ever get the chance to do. One day at a time and look forward to the next. I am so proud of you. You are very special to so many people. Sending a big hug, Aunt Ann

  3. Tom Sakmar December 15, 2023 at 09:42 - Reply

    Charlotte — What an incredible post! Your vibrant and thoughtful description of life at sea—movement, time, wind, weather, waves—and dolphins! — Is so inspiring. My congratulations to you and your shipmates on a remarkable voyage of exploration and adventure. Love from family and friends in NYC.

  4. Juliette December 15, 2023 at 09:45 - Reply

    Char, I cannot express enough how proud I am of your journey! Inspired too! I have always known that for you to be on a voyage at sea is a deeply personal experience and difficult to convey, especially to someone who has never been sailing before. But your post (så bra skriven) has described the experience so well. I miss you like crazy and can’t wait to see you again.
    I love you (jag har så mycket att berätta till dig också <3)
    – Jules

  5. Juliette Sakmar December 15, 2023 at 09:46 - Reply

    Char, I cannot express enough how proud I am of your journey! Inspired too! I have always known that for you to be on a voyage at sea is a deeply personal experience and difficult to convey, especially to someone who has never been sailing before. But your post (så bra skriven) has described the experience so well. I miss you like crazy and can’t wait to see you again.
    I love you (jag har så mycket att berätta till dig också <3)
    – Jules

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