The Pinball Machine Called Life

Liv Clarke, B Watch, Boston College


Anna, Mary, and I adding to Palmyra’s population (17) with a bout of enthusiasm on a tour of the atoll by the one and only Ali (has nothing to do with my blog post but is a fire picture you have to admit).

Ship's Log

Noon Position
18˚ 18’ N, 158˚ 44’W

Ship Heading
000.5 degrees (straight North)

Ship Speed
8.4 knots (zoom zoom)

Taffrail Log
2,681 nm

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Motor sailing on a starbd tack under the main stays’l with 1415 rpm

Really really close to the Big Island yay

Souls on Board

I would like to introduce this blog post by sharing one of my favorite pastimes on this ship: Lab Haikus. Now, these haikus aren’t restricted to the lab setting by any means, I just typically only find myself going crazy enough in lab to want to write a haiku in the first place (nothing against haikus, the syllable situation just stresses me out).

The following haiku was written in the chart house after a six-hour watch and 2 hours of deep cleaning:

Waves galore, clouds high

Words spilling through the hatches

My clothes smell funky

See. I just spent about 10 straight minutes trying to find a haiku to come up with and this isn’t even great. I did learn some things though: the word conversation has way too many syllables in it to put in a haiku (4).

Also, there are definitely other rules to haikus than the syllable thing, but I don’t have access to the internet, so boat haikus are all you’re going to get from me.

Other than haikus, I have a couple other thoughts I’d like to share to offer you a window into what this experience has been like. I don’t have any particularly fun ways of communicating this information so hopefully my insane wit and perfect articulation will offer you some sort of entertainment (read with dripping sarcasm).

Today I woke up at 0600 (or 6am if you’re unfamiliar with this super-duper complicated thing called military time *eye roll*) to the sound of Emily’s voice. I don’t remember anything she said but I assume it was the information that I needed to know for my oncoming watch. I would say that I sprang out of bed but I definitely spent about five minutes rummaging around in the pile of clothing that’s made its home at the foot of my bed to find the least smelly batch of clothes to wear, spent another five minutes looking for my way too dim LL Bean headlamp, and spent about another five trying not to step on Katie on my way down from my bunk only to forget both my socks, hat, and harness back on my bed. The only reason that I share this arduous experience with you is to communicate the level of difficulty that existing on a bobbing boat in the middle of the Pacific.

But with this level of difficulty is also a level of fun and adrenaline that makes things like Galley Clean (galley means kitchen for all of those who don’t understand the super elite boat lingo we use here on the Seamans) so much fun. Sliding across a 5ft long space into a metal counter really just has a surprising element of fun to it.

After wakeups and a yummy breakfast made by Gracie and Cat, I made my way up to the lab (approximately 15 minutes early to curb the nausea inducing level of anxiety coursing through my veins) to get ready for my JLO watch (Junior Lab Officer - not Jennifer Lopez). I wouldn’t say that this level of anxiety is particularly normal for me, but rather was motivated by the fact that it was my first shift running the lab watch.

Super fun things that we did include turning the poop off (ask me later what that means I want you to be held in suspense), sent decorated normal sized Styrofoam cups down 2,000m on our hydrowire to shrink them to become decorated mini sized Styrofoam cups (later I learned that this was in fact a process that allowed us to do maintenance on the hydrowire but I’d like to think that the scientists really wanted to dedicate four hours to making mini cups).

JLO was a lot of fun and I would just like to thank my scientist, Anna, and my watch crew for making that possible - without you guys I’d definitely have showed up at least 25 minutes early to watch (rather than 15)  which wouldn’t have been fun for anyone.

After watch ended, we journeyed down to the main salon to eat lunch (during which I made a glorious peanut butter and jelly sandwich that righted all wrongs in the world). I considered showering after lunch but like most days I decided against it because I knew I’d be sweating within the hour during Field Day (alternatively known as deep cleaning incentivized by playing music and eating candy). Field day is actually one of my favorite things to do because I 1) think organizing things is fun 2) finding out who will sing the 10-minute version of All Too Well by Taylor Swift with me helped me sus out who my real friends were and 3) washing dishcloths on deck in the sun while listening to any sort of music with some of the coolest people ever will never be a bad time in my book.

After Field Day I finally decided to shower, skipping out on the group salt water washdown on deck with a firehose by our engineer Henry (somehow isn’t as weird as it sounds). Each of these events have brought me to now, here writing to you while looking at our electronic chart that shows us within spitting distance (take with a grain of salt) from the Big Island. Our time is coming to a close and I can’t help but spend the 5 seconds a day I have to sit down thinking about each of the wonderful people I’ve had the privilege to share this experience with, the beautiful ship I’ve called home for the past however many days (I don’t like to keep track, it stresses me out about just as much as syllables do), and what the future holds for me as a person learning to navigate what comes next.

I would like to echo what Ben said a couple days ago and say that I am so thankful for each of you who’s reading this blog post for being ok with your almost adult child/friend/grandchild wanting to drop everything and sail to a remote atoll in the middle of the Pacific. The ride has been pretty sick - or “baller” as I’ve begun to say - and I couldn’t have imagined a better crew to struggle, persevere, cry, laugh, learn, and succeed with.

And to Mom, Dad, and any family reading this: Love you to the moon and back, thank you so much for supporting my choice to come out and do this.

Can’t wait to tell you all about it when I’m home (whenever that is).

Much much love,

Liv Clarke, B Watch, Boston College

Other messages to the outside world:

Happy Birthday Mom! Miss you! - Lauren

Sherri Miles, (Gabbys Mom): Gabrielle misses you and excited to see you very soon!! Girls trip xoxo! I love you! give hurley and roxy lots of kisses (the boys and tito too) (also will you water my plants?) !

Contact: Douglas Karlson, Director of Communications, 508-444-1918 |

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  1. Theresa Messner March 21, 2022 at 12:30 - Reply

    Thanks for the birthday wishes Lauren. Miss you so much!! Can’t wait to hear all about this fantastic trip!!


  2. Sherri Miles March 22, 2022 at 15:07 - Reply

    Liv- thanks for squeezing some comments for home from Gabrielle! Much appreciated! Tell her The dogs are watered and the plants are still naughty.

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