Slept through breakfast for a whopping 10 hours of sleep last night! Much needed after a night full of processing Neuston tow contents during lab Dawn Watch the morning before followed by a night watch shift on deck. Today was a beautiful day but with very pitchy seas (meaning the boat was rocking and rolling). Since departing the Dry Tortugas we have set out to round the south most tip of Florida. As we leave the Gulf of Mexico behind the calms seas that we had become accustomed to have turned into larger swells really putting our balance to the test.
Natalie, Laurens, Lydia, and Fiona (Left to right) haul away on the forstays’l halyard as our 1st mate Rocky keeps a watchful eye
I for one have walked into many more walls than usual in the last 24 hours and have become very grateful for the gimbaled tables in the main salon that move with the boat to keep the delicious food, cooked by our fantastic stewards, from sliding right off our plates. As of last night, up on deck we now have lines called jackl’ns stretching from the bow to the stern on both the port and starboard side to help us brace ourselves as we walk around. I find it a fun challenge to sway along with the boat and stay in one place; it is like the ultimate version of surfing the subway. During class each afternoon we have science and deck reports on what happened over the past day. For science we have a little chant “Oh Ah science report I said Oh Ah Science Report Woo Woo” but we don’t have a jingle we sing for deck! I came up with singing D-E-C-K to the tune of YMCA and hopefully that will stick!
My Watch (A-Watch aka the best watch) was on during the afternoon from 1300-1900. We have been fortunate enough to be sailing under wind power only all day today making the ride a bit smoother than if we were motoring under sail! It has only been a little over a week since we pushed off the dock at USF and it is incredible to see how much we have all learned in that short period of time. We are all getting very familiar with the way our watches run from gybing and trimming sails to deploying scientific gear and analyzing samples.
Our scientists and mates have begun to hand off more responsibility to us preparing us for those final couple of weeks when they will take a step back and let us students/crew in training take the lead. Today during watch I was out on deck and Rocky, our watch’s mate, assigned me to run watch rotation. This meant I was in charge of directing my shipmates on deck with me to their hourly assignments, myself included. It was a bit stressful but everyone is so supportive and enthusiastic to do their part it helps everything run smoothly. I was able to learn more about all the things our mates have on their mind as we stand watch, like checking the radar for nearby traffic, ensuring we are following the captain’s navigation plans, keeping tabs on the weather to adjust our course steering with the wind and swell… and so much more.
It is a lot, but it is so worth it as all these pieces come together and seeing everyone flourish as we take on these challenges as a team. “We’re all in the same boat” is a saying we keep throwing around as a joke but is actually very important to because we have to give our all for each other and ourselves to make sure we stay safe and accomplish our goals, emulating the values of ‘ship, shipmate, self’. I am excited to see what the weeks ahead bring and to head out into the Atlantic even if it means we may have days more wavy than this! Time to sign off and catch some shut eye, a commodity almost as precious as our beloved saltines these days.
To my family, I love and miss you! Give Enzo a big squeeze from me, see y’all soon.
***A note from Captain Allison Taylor to her mother… Happy Birthday Carolyn! Missing you and thinking of you on your special day!***
- Ava Kiss, A-Watch, Cornell University