Life of a Sailor
April 17, 2019
Rose Edwards, B Watch, Sailing Intern
32o 02.5’N x 064o 35.2’W with Bermuda in sight!
Course & Speed
Hove to for science
Mains’l, main stays’l, fore stays’l
Partly cloudy, a crisp 19o C, Winds out of the NNE/Force 3, 4 foot swell.
At the end of my SEA Semester trip when I was a student, I was voted "Most likely to become a Sailor" by my classmates. While not the only S-271 classmate to pursue tall ship life after SEA, the prediction has come true and over multiple trips and jobs I am becoming a Sailor with a capital S.
With being a sailor comes the strange contradiction of being alone and being with people. I am surrounded by a wonderful community on each trip, living within 134 feet of over 30 people for five to six weeks. I experience the magic of meal time conversations, our shared wonder at light through clouds, and the satisfaction of hoisting sails with my watch. Our dependency on each other is really profound, and I love the sense that we are all taking care of each other, appreciating each other, and putting in our fair share of work.
But the ship's company dissolves when the trip is over, and there is a new batch of faces coming which I soon learn, then know, and, eventually, love. The constant stream of new people is both wonderful and challenging because each new person is a potential new friend, but it takes time to know people, to trust them, and to go beyond feeling like acquaintances. We are shipmates, we are friends, but there are still some lines I feel I cannot cross in a professional environment with new people. For example, I haven't been hugged for three weeks and that lack of intimacy is a form of loneliness that some people don't realize is possible when living so closely with others.
This brings me to the people at home. I leave them behind again and again and this is why being a sailor is lonely. At home I have dearly loved friends, family, and a long-term partner. At sea, I have a community. It seems I cannot have both simultaneously this year. Last year my wider college community started to break down when I graduated, and now I only keep in touch with a few friends. I'm discovering that apartments can be isolating, whereas life onboard is always social. I long for a balance so I can both have community interactions and deeper connections through deep, long-term relationships.
Unless I convince everyone I know to transplant themselves onto a mega yacht with me, it seems I will never have this balance. I accept my opposing needs for stability and adventure, and will continue trying to feed both by sailing from home and occasionally sailing on long trips like this one. I need life on land but I love life at sea, and I can't have both at once. For now, I try not to worry about that as I sit on the quarterdeck with my community and wonder at the light coming through the clouds.
Update: Since writing this a few days ago, several interns read it on the ship's network and I have received multiple hugs from multiple people. Hooray! (Happy Birthday, Brett! I wish I could be with you today. I'll be thinking of you. I love you and can't wait to wrap my arms around you. Ask Nina to give you your pre-written birthday card from me if she's still in the country.
- Rose Edwards, B Watch, Sailing Intern
p.s. We saw the most amazing humpback whales today! They breached and swam under the boat!
p.p.s. I'll call you when we're in Bermuda! Arrival is tomorrow and my day off is Thursday.)