After leaving from Grenada yesterday it has been a little shuffle returning to the routine of the ship, remembering that we do need to sleep during the day, and to keep our shoes in our bunks. In terms of the 25th Feb I am lucky enough (or perhaps silly enough) to admit that A watch has had the pleasure of being awake for most of it. We were awoken at 0030 and began our day by stumbling sleepily up to the doghouse, reading the night orders, and stepping on deck. This is perhaps my favorite moment of dawn watch, the turn over. Dawn watch typically begins with a stream of announcements from the oncoming watch “Norah on deck,”
There is always something going on; There is always something going on... everywhere
“Jess on deck,” “Kaitlyn on deck,” which are repeated back to you in sleepy (or hyperactive) confirmation from the standing watch. When it is dark we need to announce that we are either coming out onto the deck or returning below. As our eyes adjust to the dark you begin to make out the familiar shadows of the watch who has been working for the last 6 hours and know that we will soon be responsible for our floating home. Amongst the shifts at the helm, sail handling, and boat checks that make up our dawn watch, we spotted dolphins around 0300. They were tubes of bright lights as they dived in the bioluminescent wake of Cramer’s bow.
By the end of six hours (which feels like two) of dawn watch we sit on the deck boxes, officially relieved from our duties and check in as a watch. This is mostly comprised of quick point from our watch officers Biz and Bonnie, affirmations at how good breakfast is going to taste, and conversations of what order we are going to eat, sleep, and shower. This morning, laundry was on the list for a few of us and we trudged on deck with our salt encrusted bags of dirty laundry. Quickly a line formed as more people joined and we sat in morning sun reading as we waited for the buckets to be free. To clarify, laundry on ship is two large blue buckets, one with salt water and one with fresh. We then hang our mix mash of different clothing on Cramer’s foredeck, making her look as though she is a strange celebration of cleanliness.
…and then as a watch we attempted to get some sleep before lunch and our evening watch – we didn’t do too well – the mixed excitement of life on a ship always seems more enticing than our bunks.
After a plate-licking lunch of shrimp and tofu burritos with a spicy mango and onion salad we congregated on the quarter deck for class. We squish into the patches of shade on the deck and listen to the daily navigation report, science report, and announcements from the crew. We then transitioned into Fire drills and Abandon Ship drills, running through our individual and watch group procedures in the event of emergencies. There has been great discussion among the students in terms of the contents of the life rafts since a class during our on shore component in Woods Hole. In this class Captain Alison Taylor said that they often would have either “a deck of cards, a Harry Potter book, or a spoon in the life raft.” Nobody on board particularly wants or understands the addition of a spoon to a life raft, and Alison only laughs in response to our questions.
Next we shifted into a Grenada port stop debrief in which each student spoke about our findings related to our change projects. Given three minutes each, I thought I understood what speaking fast was until MJ, our teaching fellow stepped up. Managing somehow to give twenty students notes on her own findings pertaining to each of our individual projects, all we could do was attempt to absorb. When first arriving on the boat I was told “we are going to throw a lot of pasta (i.e information) at you and you just need to be a wall and let it stick.” As someone who takes things quite literally I was momentarily confused, but today fully understood the importance of that advice. Let me tell you, MJ can throw pasta like no one else I have met while still having enough breath to remind Dillon to put sunscreen on his hands.
After a birthday apple crumble for our very own James’s birthday, a lesson on the use of sextants, and another delicious meal of fried rice for dinner, A watch settled in for our 1900 evening watch. It was a beautifully clear night and as a watch we attempted to identify the different constellations moving above us, went about our routines, and launched into long-winded discussions such as: Would you rather be immortal in the body of an eighty year old or a twelve year old? (from James) Would you rather have fingers that always smelled like raw garlic or rotten strawberries? (from Courtney)
I am writing now from the morning of the 26th and am happy to say that to my knowledge, all of A watch is still sleeping soundly.
- Ela Keegan, A watch, College of the Atlantic
PS: Happy ever-so-slightly belated birthday Tim! I hope that you had a cake-filled day.
Sending LOVE home (yes all in capitals). Han, sending you a patch of sun. Magdalena sends love and chocolate. I am looking forward to sharing an adventure like this with you. Of course it was fried rice for dinner today.
Hope you are eating well xx