It was the night before (Local Apparent) Christmas and all the ship, not a sailor was snoring, not even a bit. The foulies were hung in the locker with care, in hopes the next watch would soon be there. Decorations were hung in the library and saloon, and there was much wishful thinking for a big bright full moon.
A watch plus Sam holding the styrocast getting ready for deployment.
I’ve never done Christmas in July before, until now. The ship is bouncing with excitement as everyone bakes cookies, breads, and pies. Christmas carols coming from the galley can be heard on the science deck, and students and staff alike are hard at work to prepare their hand crafted gifts for our secret sailor gift exchange tomorrow afternoon. Sunday is normally our “day off,” but tomorrow there will be cookie decorating, cookie munching, secret sailor, more carols and more laughter.
On another note, today was our last day of the shadow phase. On morning watch today, I was shadow. As shadow, you are responsible for asking your mate questions about the specifics of the maneuvers we do, how to correctly log in the logbook, and you take on a sense of responsibility for making sure the rotation of jobs within watches is done in a way the works for the watch, switching between lookout (at night), helm, boat checks, weather and position. Communication is definitely the number one priority for this phase of the trip and our final phase, j-wo.
The j-wo phase means that the students are essentially taking over the ship. We use the skills we’ve learned throughout our journey so far and put them to good use, leading our watches in a way that works for everyone involved. The j-wo is responsible for watch turnovers, calling sail handling maneuvers; being ‘mate’ for a day. In this phase, our watch officers will still be present, although they are referred to as ‘unmotivated deckhands.’ They will be there given we need the assistance, but they are expecting us to figure out what we need to do as a group to make the watch (and ship) run smoothly. This puts our leadership skills to test, and I’m confident that all three watches will be able to handle the j-wo phase with no issues.
Today was a fantastic last day with our current watch officers – bright, sunny, and exciting. Science did a styrocast today with styrofoam cups we decorated. These cups were sent down 3000 meters and behave as shrinkidinks! Each of us now has a little souvenir from the Pacific Ocean. Tell me that isn’t awesome. Yesterday was our last day of student data collection for our DOR/POR projects! Woohoo! All that is left now is to review our results and finish our papers.
As we near the end of this incredible journey, I am having mixed feelings about the trip being over. On one hand, I want to keep sailing and seeing everything the ocean has to offer. I’ve never felt so alive and rewarded when things are accomplished with my fellow watch mates, like Noah and I finally getting the preventer hauled in enough today to Caps liking, or the feeling I get when aloft. On the other hand I’m absolutely exhausted, long for a normal sleep schedule, and really miss my friends and family. The land-ho competition is around the corner as we’re only a few hundred miles away from shore, and I really hope I’m on watch when that happens!!
To everyone back home, I’m thinking of you every day!! Now I’m off to eat some dinner, attempt some sleep before dawn watch, and get increasingly more excited about all of our festivities tomorrow.
- Sophia Garms, St. Mary’s College of Maryland/A Watch
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