I’m excited to explore the unknown, honored to be a crew member on board the Robert C. Seamans, and impatient for the moment when we can finally leave San Diego. I believe that everyone’s promises for an amazing voyage will follow through. I believe that the ocean is an incredible landscape, yet to be experienced by many of us. I believe that I’ll integrate into the watch schedule successfully. I believe that I’ll be able to follow a “normal” routine and stay healthy. I believe life on board the Robert C. Seamans will be amazing.
I absolutely cannot believe I’m seasick beyond my wildest imagination, I threw up four times on my watch between 01:00 and 07:00, and I wish I were back on stable ground. I absolutely cannot believe past students have enjoyed a voyage like this.
Open ocean sailing for 6 weeks?!? Some students come back for more trips?!?
I absolutely cannot believe the capacity for scientists to study the ocean in these conditions. I can’t last 5 minutes in the lab and even if I could, I get thrown around with every pass of a wave. I absolutely cannot believe that I’ll feel my best during any of the watches. It’s like I’m always playing catch up with sleep. I absolutely cannot believe that I’ll maintain a stable routine. We’re on watch at different hours every shift, I can barely walk straight, much less exercise, and I still don’t know when to shower or do laundry. I absolutely cannot believe life on board the Robert C. Seamans will feel normal.
I cautiously believe.
Well, I’m able to keep my food down now and enjoy the amazing dishes cooked by Jackie and Paul, I can finally read without feeling disoriented, and I can stay below deck to write this blog post! I cautiously believe the accounts of the returning crew members. The nature of the community, the ship, and the way the horizon meets the water has such a strong appeal. I cautiously believe that science on board ships is actually possible. Olivia, Kris, and I were able to count 100 individual zooplankton and actually have fun doing it. I cautiously believe that I’ll find my way around the watch schedule. Whatever the time is, I’m able to get sleep, stay focused, and contribute as a crew member. All crew members were there for me when I was tired, could barely step away from the side of the ship, and was low on motivation. I cautiously believe that I will eventually have some sort of routine. If that means living in 18 hour blocks with eating, sleeping, exercising, learning, and personal care within that block for the next 6 weeks, I’ll find my way. I cautiously believe life on board the Robert C. Seamans will be challenging, and will therefore allow me to grow.
I find myself reflecting on the incredible organisms we’ve already come across. The turtle we saw at the San Diego maritime museum represents my hopes. I hope I’m prepared for the coming challenges, like that injured, but thriving turtle is. The kelp we passed on the way out of the harbor represents my insecurities. I held on too tight to my norms, resisting the changes that are inherent with life on board a ship. The albatross we spotted represents my newfound insight. I have let go, untethered myself from unreasonable expectations and let the wind and waves carry me through these wondrous days.
Orrrrrr I’m just not seasick anymore so I’m having a lot more fun!
- Henry Hua, A Watch, Cornell University