Set a Reminder

April 22, 2024

Author: Sam Ruemmler, A Watch, Roger Williams University


Long-ish exposure of Liam on guitar with Amy and Megan on fiddle

Ship's Log

Friday, 19 April 2024

Noon Position: 36°32.417’S x 145°01.127’W

Ship Heading: 320° PSC, 345° True

Ship Speed (knots): 5.0

Taffrail Log (nm): 2451

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan (from 1300 Watch Change): Motor sailing under the
stays’ls, wind NxE at force 5, raining

Description of location: South Pacific Gyre Core

I’ve been pondering the concept of Reminders a lot. I enjoy them as both a
word and an experience. I think it’s a very descriptive word in the sense
that when you are reminded of something you can literally re-mind, or reset
your mind if that makes any sense. I love the experience because the moment
of connections between topics sends my mind on a fun little roller coaster
ride for me, myself, and I. So often I find myself saying “that reminds me
of a story,” “that reminds me of a song,” or other thoughts of things in the
past that the present can connect to. I also love lists of things, so
without further ado here’s a list of things out here that remind me of other

-          Crew Experience: It’s easy to forget that the crew of the Bobby C
isn’t just some older students that are here to have fun and learn like we
are, they’re actually trained and qualified professionals. I got my reminder
of this the other day when we decided to double reef the mains’l. Captain
Allison took over and I got to watch as orders were hurled around the boat
and the crew scurried about working with efficiency that the students could
only dream of. “Ease topping lift! Hold main sheet! You, tall guy, go over
there!” It’s amazing to see what a well-oiled machine can do, and very
humbling to consider how much further we have to go.

-          The Night Sky: It’s also easy to forget just how many stars we
can’t see, both because of light pollution and because of being on the other
side of the world. The Milky Way shines on clear nights, with the Southern
Cross pointing to the empty void where the south celestial pole is. When I
see shooting stars, I’m reminded of that night at school when we laid out on
the rocks and watched the meteor shower. The Milky Way reminds me of my last
trip to the cabin with Grandma and Erin, as well as the trip to Connor’s
lake house, the first time I saw it. Ironically, the night sky also reminds
me of how pervasive humanity is. Even in the middle of the Pacific we can’t
escape man-made structures. On evening watch a few days ago I saw the
StarLink satellites pass overhead, a line of 20 green dots passing in a
perfectly straight line towards the east. It was fascinating, but incredibly
eerie. I saw 8 other satellites just in that lookout shift, which made me a
little sad. Is there ever any way to get away from people for real? Probably
not. But do I really want to? Who knows!

-          Ocean Wonders: After staring at the same unchanging seascape for
weeks on end, it can be easy to start taking our location for granted. Every
so often there are little reminders that re-spark the same wonder I had
before starting the trip. Occasionally a particularly beautiful wave will
break and catch the sun perfectly, showing off how magnificently blue the
water is here. A few nights ago in rough seas, the fo’c’sle head porthole
would light up with dots of bioluminescence as it plunged beneath the
surface, a sight that made the impossible task of removing my contacts in
10-foot seas a little more enjoyable. Then of course there were the whales 2
days ago. Rocky’s matter-of-fact announcement over the PA of “there’s a
whale” was immediately met with the clamor of every single person rushing to
deck, many without raincoats and some without shoes, to watch the 2 majestic
creatures follow us and play in our wake for over an hour.

-          Songs: I miss music so much. Throughout my day I’m reminded of
the songs I love, and also reminded of how little I actually know them. I
can’t think of how it starts, or how the second verse goes, so often on
lookout I’ll end up repeating the same line over and over again. Some songs
(or rather choruses) from Dad’s “Sam at Sea” playlist are always going
through my head: Ship of Fools by World Party and Six Months in a Leaky Boat
by Split Enz. Most of the songs I sing on lookout are by The Shins: 40 Mark
Strasse, September, Pink Bullets, Mildenhall, No Way Down, as well as lots
by Death Cab for Cutie: Passenger Seat, Transatlanticism, Marching Bands of
Manhattan, but first and foremost Little Wanderer, the quintessential long
distance relationship song.

-          Home and Family: Pretty much all of my life is back on shore, but
there’s still plenty here to remind me of the places and people I’m missing.
Discussions of our favorite foods remind me of how much I love Grandma’s
meals of rouladen, spätzle, and rotkraut. Seeing everyone making hats,
blankets, and everything in between reminds me of the whale shark/remora
combo that Mimi knitted for me right before I left. Whenever I take
pictures, all I can think of is how much of a blast Dad would have with his
fancy lenses, getting the birds I can’t with his telephoto and lighting up
the main salon with all his flash contraptions. On loud evenings when we’re
playing phonetic bananagrams or fishbowl I can almost hear Mom’s laugh
ringing out, the one my friends say I have too. I think about the time we
went to the Herreshoff museum with Grandad and Robin, and how I might now
know enough boat lingo to know what was going on there. Having a bunch of
people living in one big house by the ocean makes me think about the beach
family, especially on the day Nick caught an albacore (yes I tried some, it
wasn’t bad). I could go on and on but Davi told me the limit is 2 pages.

-          Erin: I think about you all the time, but I’ve narrowed down the
list to 4 specific things that remind me of you more than others. Birds:
This one is obvious, you just love birds so much. I think about how you know
so much more about them then I do, and how you probably wouldn’t be
satisfied with lumping birds together in the “shearwater/petrel” category,
you’d get them down to the species. But most of all the albatrosses make me
think of you and those days we would sit on your bed and watch the albatross
chick live cams. We loved seeing the parents come back, and I wonder if any
of the ones I saw would show up on those cams now. The stars: Every time I
look up, I think of how much you want to take a trip to Acadia and see the
stars, or of us sitting in a hot tub somewhere just staring up at the
untarnished sky. Squalls: When the wind moves in a line across the ocean, it
makes a roaring gray color that reminds me so much of your eyes. The blue
base with gray scattered across the top and a powerful intensity behind it.
Thinking of you makes the cold, wind, and rain so much better. Sometimes I
wish a squall would roll through just so I could see that blue-gray line
coming towards me. Songs: Every Death Cab song I sing on lookout makes me
think of you. Transatlanticism makes much more sense to me now that there’s
an ocean between us, and the combination of shooting stars and satellites
makes me think of how nice it is to have you in the passenger seat next to
me. Most of all is Little Wanderer. I thought we were long distance before
but boy am I stretching the limits of that now. I’ll always wander back to
you, and I’ll be your bluebird returning as long as you’ll be my evergreen.

Sam Ruemmler, A Watch, Roger Williams University

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