Happy Local Apparent Boxing Day! (In case that’s a thing anyone actually celebrates). Everyone’s still riding high on Christmas cheer and slowly consuming the enormous mass of leftover desserts. Yours truly has taken it upon himself to ensure the pumpkin bread and Mexican wedding cookies don’t go stale. It’s a hard job given the enormity of the task, but someone’s got to do it and I’ve got all dawn watch to slowly chow down. It’s certainly nice to have a new activity to fill the dawn watches, which I stand every morning to fill in for that day’s assistant steward. The ideal activity is chatting. Did you know Chief Mate Ava worked as a performer on Disney Cruise Lines and can also rap a few bars of Eminem? (Maybe they can rap more, but it takes some coercion to get them to sing anything but their admittedly epic repertoire of sea shanties.) Second Mate Calliope has some pretty hilarious stories from her time at Maine Maritime Academy. I won’t try to recount any as my written, second-hand account can’t do a story told first-hand at 0300 the justice it deserves. Third Mate Darcy and I spend much of the time gossiping about the Maine windjammers, and I try to get her to fill the remainder with one of her many tales from her time at sea.
When I’m alone at helm or standing forward lookout, my go to time-killer is singing to myself, but after working my way through Leaving on a Jet Plane, Northwest Passage, Givin’ the Dog a Bone, Can’t Always Get What You Want, Party in the USA, and all sorts of songs in between (it’s a diverse list) about 4 million times, give or take, I’ve been searching for other activities. Day dreaming can fill a pretty big amount of time, but I’m not sure if I can call it day dreaming at 0230 in the morning. Plus, it’s pretty hard to steer a straight course when I’m imagining what sort of food I’ll make for myself once I start grad school in the fall.
Stargazing works well too, but only if it’s a clear night (which are few and far between) and there’s not too much moonlight to drown out the stars. Taking these factors into account, I’ve had all of about 1.5 good dawn watches of star gazing, which coincidentally is exactly half the number of great sunrises we’ve had on this trip. I couldn’t tell you how that compares to the number of great sunsets, since I’m always asleep right after dinner to maximize my pre-watch sleep, but I can tell you that if you tilt your head upside down when the sun’s coming up it almost looks like a sunset, albeit with softer colors.
I can tell we’re sailing east by the ever-increasing amount of daylight near the end of watch. While in the middle of the gyre the sun wouldn’t rise until 0645, now it starts to make itself known around 0430, though exact time of sunrise is indeterminable behind the omnipresent stratocumulus mass. Moods change at sunrise. Over the moonlit hours, people move slower, speak quieter, and converse about introspective topics like long-term plans, family, and how crazy it will be to get back to land one day maybe if it’s actually still there.
Daylight brings more energy (and if you’re Ava, dawn yoga aka doga), more laughter, and conversation topics closer to home (specifically what’s for breakfast and how excited people are to go back to bed). After breakfast, I lay into a couple hours of galley work, chopping, mixing, and baking whatever our wizard of a cook has set aside for me that day. Personal favorites have included ginger-molasses cookies, baked brie, and kouign amman. That last is a pet project of mine and I’ve had a blast trying to perfect the ratio of butter (lots) to flour (some) to sugar (more than you’d expect) to give these pastries-from-scratch the perfect caramelized sugar coating that reveals the buttery, croissant-esque layers within. But I digress (not that this blog post has any cohesive theme anyways. Can you tell I only sleep in 4 hour shifts and am awake every day from 0030 to 0930? Probably). Regardless, I think this stream of consciousness is slowly coming to a close as my bunk’s siren call beckons. Yesterday, Christmas. Tomorrow, who knows? Another dawn, another day.
- Caleb Rosen, Teaching Assistant/Deckhand
P.S. Happy Birthday Dad! I hope you have a great day and enjoy your new bird shirt!
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