How I Learned To Go With the Flow

November 4, 2021

Megan O’Brien, A Watch, Colorado College

Morning station Free CTD deployment with a side of science squats!
Morning station Free CTD deployment with a side of science squats!

Morning station Free CTD deployment with a side of science squats!

Ship's Log

Noon Position
22° 54.59’ N x 056° 55.97’ W

Ship Heading
180°

Ship Speed
2 kts

Taffrail Log
2520 nm

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Clear and sunny, 27° C, go SW!

Description of location
The South Sargasso Sea! (About 530 nm from the USVI and about 30 nm south of the Tropic of Cancer)

Souls on Board

Going into this trip I knew I would be challenged in ways I could never imagine. Each student set goals on land to help guide our growth, but over our time at sea I have learned more than I ever thought possible. Dealing with changes of plans is hard for me. I am a planner and when unexpected things happen it can take me a while to adjust. Now if you've ever lived in an environment similar to the one on Corwith Cramer you'll know how quickly this became an issue. Every day, especially since entering the Junior Watch Officer phase, is about making a thoughtful well laid out plan only for it to be blown to smithereens by an oncoming squall (patch of intense rain and wind), an abrupt wind shift, or some technical difficulty. Sounds like a planner's worst nightmare right? That's what I thought too, but somewhere along the way I learned to just go with the flow (pun absolutely intended).

Me jumping off the bowsprit (Megan, Alec, Stephanie, Brier, Bec, Jenna)

Me jumping off the bowsprit (Megan, Alec, Stephanie, Brier, Bec, Jenna)

Yesterday, November 3rd, was a perfect example of this. The day started off with A Watch on morning watch. My watch mates Alec, Bec, Anne, and Phoenix were on deck and Paige and I were in the Lab. I started out as the first Junior Lab Officer, a new role I'd never held before. I came to watch with what I thought was a perfectly laid out plan. I soon learned that there was a lot more going on than what I had laid out in my plan. There was sail handling that needed to happen, more steps than I had planned for, and oh my the Tropics are hot as heck which can lead to dehydration pretty quickly. I also encountered a bit of an issue while processing pH. I simply forgot to record the data I was processing and had to start all over, with time my plan hadn't allowed for.

Old me would have flown into a panic when faced with so much responsibility and such a shaky plan, but rather than panicking I found myself taking a different approach. I leaned on my watchmates and when my first plan didn't work I made another one and when that one went awry too, I made a new one. Living on this ship isn't about not planning, in fact without planning everything would fall apart. Living on this ship is about being adaptable to new plans. If you turn the wheel too far while trying to change directions, adjust the sails, if you're planning to process data but run out of time, know that there are shipmates willing to help, and if you're bunk is one thousand degrees at 2 am and you can't sleep, go up on deck for a second and just enjoy the stars.

Sargassum Photo-shoot (Allen, Megan, Paige, Alec, Jordan, Kayla, Camilla, Phoenix).

Sargassum Photo-shoot (Allen, Megan, Paige, Alec, Jordan, Kayla, Camilla, Phoenix).

Plans almost always don't work the first time out at sea, and the usually don't work the second time either. Being adaptable and prepared to think of your feet is the key to being successful and also the key to creating the most amazing memories. Yesterday afternoon the entire boat enjoyed a surprise swim call. We were so excited and hurried to get on our swimsuits to enjoy the warmest and clearest water I've seen in my life. We all piled out on the bowsprit and took turns jumping off. Some went the cannonball route and others took a simple jump and scream approach. The feeling of floating in the middle of the Atlantic, the sun shining down, no land for miles, and the ocean floor some 5000m below us with some of the most amazing people I've ever met is an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life. Best of all, it was never a part of my plan! This type of thing has happened on countless occasions and it has really shown me the value of appreciating the unplannable.

C-300's trip is coming to an end, crazy as that sounds. I selected this day to write the blog at the beginning of the trip when November 4th felt like a very long time away and a nice time to reflect on what I've learned. Now, we only have a few more days out here with no service, no land, and just each other. I know the next 12 days will fly by just like the previous weeks. I truly hope I can make every second count and make as many unforgettable memories as possible, all unplanned of course.

All my love!
- Megan O'Brien, A Watch, Colorado College

P.S. To family and friends at home, I hope you are all doing well. I miss you all so much and think of you every day. I hung up pictures in my bunk so you are always with me. I can't wait to see everyone for Thanksgiving and hear all the updates! Mary, I know you are crushing junior year keep it up and good luck with hockey and soccer!

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