Sailhandling, sunrises, and salps galore!

December 18, 2023

Author: Lucy Hylton, Colorado College


Owen, D'Elle, Anna Lynn and I furling the jib tops'l!

Ship's Log

18 December 2023Current Position: 34'43.339'S, 177'41.316'EShip's Heading & Speed: 101.7' T, 4.7ktsWeather: NWxN wind, 10kts

Happy sunset hour from just outside of Poor Knights Island!We just finished a lovely dinner of pulled pork sliders. After my Stu Stewday yesterday (Student Steward, shadowing our lovely chefs Ashley andMorgan) I have a much greater appreciation of all of the galley'sinner-workings and the thought that goes into every meal. For example: howto make soup as tumultuous waves throw ingredients and tilt the entiregalley, or the importance of securing sharp tools down before moving on to anew task.Today marked my watch's first shift on the FINAL MISSION! We've come a longway from the days when we couldn't explain a gybe or a tack if our livesdepended on it. Now, we're in charge of everything from sail handling andnavigation to lab deployments and analyzing samples. Today's neuston net towbrought in another large salp haul, but nothing can top the fateful dawnwatch that I, along with Cricket and D'Elle, had to count a whopping 1,700stinky salps from the delirious hours of 0100 to 0700. It was all worth itfor the jaw-dropping sunrise though.Considering it was my watch's first time entirely in charge, today'safternoon watch went remarkably well. We were all able to play into eachother's strengths, splitting up between deck and lab and creating a preciseschedule to smoothly rotate between roles-weather and navigation, helm,lookout, etc. It was a beautiful, sunny day, with calm waves and some lush,green islands on the horizon-our first land sighting since Napier! We wereeven lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a hammerhead shark!During class a few days ago, we were asked to reflect on some ways in whichwe will describe this experience to others once we return home. To me, somuch of ship life is indescribable. I've grown so accustomed to this homethat is never still, to being awake at all hours of the day and night, andexperiencing the weird phenomenon that is ship time. I'm no longer surprisedwhen saltwater douses me as I stand lookout when the bow dips over aparticularly large wave, and I've perfected my bedtime burrito to keep mefrom rolling around while I sleep. However, I'm still awestruck by the sheernumber of stars that appear above me most nights. I still have my breathtaken away by dawn watch sunrises, or when we are greeted by a friendlyflock of dolphins. And I am still in perpetual amazement, and gratitude, forthis experience.Nearing the end of our voyage brings about a multitude of emotions, fromexcitement for seeing loved ones again to fear at leaving our sweet littlebubble and facing the real world again. This trip has given me an entirelynew perspective I will take with me afterwards, our 40-person, floatingcommunity just a speck in the Southern Pacific. I will remember and cherishthe sense of closeness that this lifestyle brings. Truly, each and every oneof us relies on each other. When I go to sleep, I am comforted in theknowledge that my classmates are dutifully up on deck, keeping the boat safeand on course. When, for example, a few watches ago we quickly needed tostrike the mains'l at the change of the watch, everyone leapt into action,even the sleepy watch that had just been woken up mere minutes before. Weall climbed up onto the housetop, and took turns calling orders-"Up! Aft!Down!" and listening as they were called back.  This same feeling ofteamwork and reliance is present anytime I hand the steering wheel off tosomeone new, or make fast a line while someone holds it down for me, or fallasleep knowing someone will wake me up at the correct time.Speaking of falling asleep-which I don't do much of around here-I havemorning watch tomorrow so I must begin my bedtime tasks. Those mainlyinclude shoving all my rogue belongings into one corner of my tiny,overcrowded bunk and then attempting to flop myself sideways into bedwithout knocking myself out on the ceiling. The final step is, of course,the bedtime burrito. As you can see I've got a lot to do so I must be going!Lucy HyltonColorado CollegeB WatchP.S. Hi family! I love and miss you all so very much. I'm so looking forwardto seeing you all again! I hope everything is well at home, and also getready for NEVERENDING BOAT STORIES! I'm sending you lots of hugs, all theway from offshore New Zealand!

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  1. Kenton Hensley December 19, 2023 at 21:57 - Reply

    Lila Hensley’s uncle Kent, here; I have loved reading all your blog entries. imagining Lila’s experience with you all. Greetings to you, and I wish you well as you complete your journey safely on your rolling home. If anyone reads this and feels so moved, please give Lila an uncle-style bear hug for me. Much obliged! Happy holidays to all.

  2. Sus Shawhan December 21, 2023 at 09:00 - Reply

    Aloha All! Mama Süs here (D’Elle’s grandmother). I’ve been watching each day for the next episode in this South Sea Adventure story (that gale experience was a cliff hanger!). I have so, so loved reading these blog posts. You told your stories so well — so many emotions, such powerful descriptions! Thank you all for sharing so much. Your families must be waiting for your landing now … so proud, delighted … and relieved (!). Have a wonderful holiday.!
    P.S. As I told Elle — as you get land oriented and are wobbling on sea legs, don’t forget to hold onto the wall when shampooing in the shower 🙂

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