Not so Endless Horizons

July 31, 2021

Author: Emily Matthews, A Watch, Washington and Lee University

One of our sunsets

One of our sunsets, framed in our rig.

Ship's Log

Position
37°30.3’N x 123°09.1’W

Heading
200°

Speed
8 kt

Sail Plan
Motor and the stays’l’s

Weather
Mostly cloudy, 17°C

Wind
S, F4

Description of location
Drakes Bay, Farallon Islands

Souls on Board

endless horizon
        a view for days, months, and weeks
this only I seek

For 33 days, we sailed without land. At times it was peaceful, being so intimately arranged with the sea. I feel so honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to have my days bookended by a soft brightening and dimming of the clouds. Our first sunset on July 14th is a time I'll always remember. We had been traversing a realm of vulturous seas that gave way to the dome of spiraling grey for so long, the bright rips of color brought so much warmth.

summer without sun
        clinging onto type 2 fun
when will morning come?

For the past 2 nights we were anchored in Drakes Bay, just around Point Reyes. My watch motored us into the bay and was standing on deck while Cap, Henry, and Torey got the anchor down. There was a duality to the newly acquired stability of the boat. It was so nice being able to walk swiftly around deck and having some lessened responsibilities that come with anchor  watches, but it was also so strange to not have the constant ebbing of the boat. We got two full nights of rest, but I found I missed the boat rocking me to sleep as happens when we're underway. In the bay we took the small boat to the beach and ran. Feeling sand under my feet on a secluded beach was surreal. Moreso was seeing the Seamans from shore, realizing how compact our community is, and thinking about how we got to where we are now, our journey through the gyre.

the chain is lifted
        screeching through our ears, our minds
the rocking restored

We left anchor this morning, moving out of Drake's Bay, past the Farallon Islands, and down the California Coast. We are first and foremost a sailing school vessel, and as such we properly fawned over the 490 species of birds on the remote islands (although I did not keep a great tally of what we saw beyond the Common Murre because I thought they were the cutest). As B and C watch had the deck during the daytime today, I spent time reading and completing my projects, and made plans for the last 6 days on board. As a dancer, there is so much inspiration I want to draw out of this journey. From the views, the sounds, and even the science deployments, every part of the ship is integral to its whole story.

together we glide
        across the moors, moving blue
as always, a vibe

I was just stood down from night watch. It felt comforting to be back in the habits of the watch rotation underway. We're motoring still as there is no wind, but during our 2300 Neuston tow, we watched the net light up with bioluminescent organisms. As soon as it plopped, it glowed this soft, green, sparkling hue. It was an unexpected reminder of the range of life that surrounds us. Even through our days drifting alone, we were anything but. During my last hour, I stood lookout. I heard a chirp and looked to my left and a figure was swimming towards our bow. The dolphin was illuminated in the glow, as if they had been graced with fairy dust. They danced with the water, coming up for a final jump then diving down. It feels like a dream. As we turned over to B watch, the sky turned over from a rising moon that was an orange so deep and reflected so perfectly on the obsidian water, to the milky way splayed above us and slicing through our lives. I don't know how to invoke a glimpse into what we experienced tonight, but it was nothing short of the greatest thing I've yet to experience.

an endless bounty
        illuminate sky to sea
the stars, shining through

- Emily Matthews, Washington and Lee University / A watch 🙂

Shout out to my dad! Happy Birthday pops I can’t wait to celebrate with you! And to mom, thanks for teaching me how to wish on stars <3

Contact: Douglas Karlson, Director of Communications, 508-444-1918 | dkarlson@sea.edu

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