Going out to sea… and back again

Author: Nadia Racz, C Watch, Saint Michael’s College

Steering at the Helm.

Ship's Log

18°20.691’N 64°59.291’W

Taffrail Log
136.4 nm

3ft swells, F4 Winds

Anchored in Perseverance Bay, St. Thomas

Souls on Board

Today was our day to move bays once again, but this time we did it differently. Usually, we just motor from one bay to the next and it usually only takes the morning. Today we needed to head out farther from shore to make fresh water with our tanks and feed the fish with our food scraps.

C watch, my watch, was the first watch on today. This made for a very busy morning. Morning watch always starts with chores and dishes in the galley. I was in the galley doing dishes when I was asked to take a break to help with the anchor. The windlass was broken again. “Not again” I thought. Then I was told that we only had a half shot of chain out. We had three and a half last time, so this was going to be much easier. C watch crushed it and got the anchor up very quickly.

Laying out on the head rig.

Laying out on the head rig.

Now we could get underway. We set the three bottom sails to a port tack. I can’t remember every task that I did because it was one after the next. I can tell you that I did a lot of different types of line handling, and I enjoyed each one. Once all the sails were up, we could turn off the main engine. We were going about 6 knots just under sail and I was amazed with our speed.

While underway I helped with science hourlies. This is where we record average salinity, temperature, and chl-a for the past hour. We also record our longitude and latitude, nautical miles traveled, and wind direction. Although I was just recording numbers off a computer, I am excited to analyze these numbers and see what they tell us. Also, part of this hourly is a six-minute observation of the sea life and objects we can see in six minutes. I did not see anything in my observation period, but while I was doing this, we did get what we believe was a small tuna on our fishing line. Unfortunately, we were unable to get it into the boat on time.

Our engineer Patrick was busy while we were doing this. We dumped both our gray and black water tanks and our food scrap buckets. These jobs are not for people with weak stomachs. We also made fresh water from sea water we did this at a separate time from when we dumped our gray and black water tanks for obvious reasons. I think it is so cool that we can make fresh water out of sea water. Yes, in a few days we will be drinking and showering in Atlantic Sea water.

Wow! What a busy morning. Soon it was time to wake up the next watch. I was asked to go wake up the next watch, but my stomach was not feeling up for going below deck. Getting out to sea also means that the waves picked up significantly. Many of my shipmates, including myself, got seasick. Seasickness is something that just takes time to get over. We got a small taste of what it is like today. I took over for Natalie at the Helm so that she could do wakeups. I am pictured above steering at the helm. I was so excited to finally get the opportunity to steer the ship. It is harder than it looks, but it’s fun. I was steering at the heading 005. It took me a little bit to get the hang of it, but I think I got it down on how to adjust. You must be patient because the ship does not immediately respond, and you do not want to overcorrect.

I was only at the helm for a little while until it was time for A watch to take over. I was ready for the break, and I was glad I had the rest of the day to relax. I decided to head to the head rig to relax since I still wasn’t feeling well enough to go below deck. The head rig if you don’t know is basically a giant net at the front of the boat. The Jib sail is stored there so it is used when you are trying to raise or lower that sail. It is also a great spot to hang out and relax. I am pictured here laying out on the net with Macy behind me. It was a great way to relax and will probably be my favorite place to hang out on the boat.

Next it was time for lunch. Our stewards Katey and Jackie never fail to make us a delicious meal. For lunch it was loaded baked potatoes and they were absolutely delicious. It was what my queasy stomach needed. Believe it or not one of the best ways to help sea sickness is eating.

After lunch we had an all-hands meeting. The main event was doing drills. The drills we do are man overboard, fire, and abandon ship. We each have an individual role in these drills to make sure everything goes smoothly. Today we started with a fire drill, and we learned what the alarm sounds like under deck and how to use a fire extinguisher. I am on the insulation team for this drill. We try to close any air spaces, so the fire does not spread. Today we just talked about what we would need to do if there was a fire in the engine room.

Then we practiced our man overboard drill. Our crew demonstrated gybing the ship quickly. Usually, I would be at the spotter position keeping eyes on the person who is in the water. Today we just worked on sail handling. The last drill is the abandon ship drill. My job is to grab the flares and the dive light for my life raft which is in the back of the ship by the helm. We discussed how to deploy the life raft as well. Drills are one of those things we do every week. We hope that we will never actually have to use these skills, but it is important to practice because if there was an actual emergency it is important to know your job and stay calm. It is best to be prepared. The better prepared we are the better a real emergency will go.

The rest of the day was chill for me at least. We headed back to shore and anchored in Perseverance Bay. Being at anchor caused my seasickness to go away. We had a delicious dinner and are all settling in for the night. Finally, I would like to share some reflections on the last few days. If you have read our last couple of blogs you would know that we have had a rough last couple days. A stomach bug and a shipmate having to leave has caused group morale to be at a low. I am pleased to report that I think we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Everyday less and less people are sick. It has been rough for everyone, but I think it has brought us all closer together.

I would like to share something with you that I shared at our community meeting today. Many years ago, I participated in a program called Wilderness. In our living space a sign hung reading “Wilderness is a group of people living and working together, sharing good times and bad times. Wilderness is what you make it to be.” I think we could easily substitute C301 for Wilderness in this quote. We are all going to hit our highs and lows and we’ll do it together. We are also all going to have our own unique experiences. We define what our experience will be like by our thoughts and actions. Yes, our shipmates will influence our experience, but ultimately, we define it.

I am so proud of my shipmates for keeping a good attitude in the last couple of days. Today we got a taste of what it’s going to be like to be underway and I am so excited! There is so much more left in the trip to come, and I am just trying to soak it all in.

- Nadia Racz C/ Port Watch Saint Michael’s College

P.S.  To my family and friends miss and love you tons.  Hope all is well at home.  I think of you daily.  I am enjoying every minute of my experience.

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

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