Greetings from the Gale

December 12, 2023

Author: Annie Grace McGarry, Middlebury College

S312_12Dec_photo 1_small

Queen Jess on helm today with our awesome Scientist Kelly!

Ship's Log

12 December 2023Current Position: 36 deg 42'S x 178 deg 55'WShip's Heading & Speed: Hove toWeather: Clear but windy

Greetings from the gale! I write to you all today at 1846 on December 12 offthe northeast coast of East Cape on New Zealand's North Island. Afterleaving Napier a few days ago we have settled back into the rhythmic pulseof sea life. We stand watch, enjoy the gift of a warm meal made by someoneelse when we are tired, rest in the comfort of our own bunks, and spend timetalking, laughing and reflecting together as these days continue on. So muchof learning how to sail is not only just the technical aspects of shipoperation but also learning how to think. Tuning our attention and focus tothe slight shifts in the clouds, the sea, the movement of the water and ofeach other.Living and learning at sea is a volatile experience and I have been thinkinga lot about what makes this as rewarding, joyful and challenging as it is. Ithink back to a dawn watch early on in this trip. As I walked out on deck,going out into the cold and wet felt deeply unpleasant. I stepped out andwas met by a piercing star filled sky where the constellations stretch downto the horizon. Out there under that blanket of pinpricked light, amidst theroar of the wind and swirling, rolling inky black water every sense in yourbody is heightened. The stars are so shockingly beautiful, few places onland offer a night sky so clear and bright as the one offshore.Over the past couple days as the novelty of this experience wears off, manyof us have felt the challenge of the watch schedule, seasickness, and ofhaving so little personal time and space. It makes little challenges feelthat much more. But, if I turn my face to the sun, watch the strong majesticsoaring of the albatross, and look out across the waves into the deep royalblue of the ocean I feel energized by gratitude and excitement. This is thereality of life at sea. Visceral hardship and challenge live right alongsidestunning beauty, joy and accomplishment. Like any true adventure, the linebetween "this is epic" and "this is horrible" can be so thin. The sea asksof us not only to be strong mentally and physically but to enjoy theconstant swinging between calm, chaos, discomfort, and joy all in the samemoment. In this phase of our trip, we lean into one another more, makingeach other laugh, lending our help and feeling more confident in our growingknowledge of shiplife.This morning tested us all with some of the most exciting conditions we haveseen yet. When A Watch took the deck at 0700 we were greeted with 4ft seasand about 15 kts of wind. As the watch progressed, the wind built stronglyout of the west mounting the seas and coming from the exact direction wewished to go. Not ideal. We struck the jib at the watch change and within afew hours found we were all getting wet as waves crashed over the sciencedeck. With only the stays'ls and a strong current we were making about 2 ktswhen it was decided to set the storm trys'l. Set on the main mast, the stormtrys'l is a boomless sail meant to be used in "sporty" weather to aid insteering ability, stability, and speed. It's a sail many of us thought wewould not get to the see, and A Watch rejoiced in the excitement of settingit. The weather and wind continued to build and we decided that with the seastate and sail situation, slowing down to do our morning science station wasnot realistic, we needed to make ground and monitor the wind. A Watchspirits were soaring high as we rode the thrill of the big waves, embracedthe challenge at hand, and watched the raw power of the South Pacificfirsthand.By the end of the watch, the seas had built to over 12 feet with windsgusting over 45 kts and Captain Allison called it, we were going hove to.With help from some others, we struck the storm trys'l, carefully gybedaround and found ourselves hove to for the day and into the night. Getting"hove to" is when we backwind the sails and turn the rudder such that we"slide." It is the closest thing to stopping and a safe way to hit the pausebutton. We move about the ship more carefully tonight, laugh in the athleticendeavor of the shower experience, and pack ourselves into our bunks to keepus from sliding around. Here on the Bobby C, stoke is high, centers ofgravity low, and we will go again soon to attempt to round East Cape under acloudless, sunny New Zealand sky.Yahoo,Annie Grace McGarryMiddlebury CollegeP.S. Hi Family! This is epic! I am alive and living well! I am tired, but sohappy and so excited. I continue to love this, the seas, the people, thebirds, the food, the sails, the boat, the engine room, the wind. I cannotwait to tell you about it all. You are not allowed to worry about me, I amdoing awesome most of the time right now. Definitely some winter expedmoments out here, but it is all adding to the story. The sea is strong andso am I! I love you all and miss you so much, I'll be home in less a month!!

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