Sweltering in the heat and skiing in the rain

Barnacle (Laurel) Sheufelt, B Watch, The Evergreen State College

B Watch sweating the braces.

B Watch sweating the braces.

Ship's Log

Current Location
22° 1.48’ N x 085° 9.22’ W

Ship’s Heading & Speed
030 degrees true, 4 knots

Cloudy and relatively cool evening, light winds and seas.

Souls on Board

Hello All,

Though I have been sweltering in the Caribbean heat (especially on afternoon watch today!), my thoughts keep straying back to a distinctly wintery experience: cross-country skiing. Now, I'm not thinking of just any skiing but a specific experience that's burned into my memory the very same way I'm sure many moments of this voyage will. Although it is on the surface a very different experience, I have often found that the emotions are the same. I'll set the scene for you:

It's raining and windy, maybe about 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It's about 5:30 in the evening, after a long day of classes. You're on a dark, narrow trail that's not quite illuminated by your too dim headlamp. There's about an inch of ice and an inch of slush under your skis, which are pointed uphill. The trail is tilted sideways just enough to make you nervous about falling into the dark water of the river on the right side of the trail. In summary, it's rather miserable in the moment. You're not really sure why you're putting yourself through this, you hate everything just a little bit, and you have a ridiculously long list of things you'd rather be doing. However, looking back, this kind of skiing in the rain is a fond memory of mine and I miss it, and I think this and similar experiences have made me a better person.

It's definitely hitting that point where being on the ship is just plain hard a lot of the time. We're several watches into JWO (Junior Watch Officer) phase, which demands a lot of all the students involved in terms of awareness and responsibilities. We're also hitting crunch time for our academic assignments as we enter into the last week, with reports on reef surveys, oceanography projects and paper addendums due soon, not to mention journaling assignments and a second set of check offs on nautical skills that range from understanding and explaining safety information to performing celestial navigation. That being said, I'm still convinced that I'm really going to miss this boat once I've had a bit of time off of it.

Instead of dwelling on stress and other hard emotions, I'm trying to focus on all of the things and experiences I'm collecting, from the number of blisters, calluses, and bruises, to the number of sunsets and megafauna sightings. I've even got a boat nickname that most people are using despite it originating almost 5 weeks into the trip. This trip has been a roller coaster from start to finish, though I think these blogs are the start of potentially the hardest part of this entire experience: trying to share it with other people.

- Barnacle (Laurel) Sheufelt, B Watch, The Evergreen State College

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