It has been an eventful few days. We were set to leave Rendezvous Bay early Saturday morning. I was excited to be on watch for helping the ship get under way, however, the mechanism to pull up our anchor broke. You probably heard about it in the last blog. Well, I became part of the group that would spend the next 2.5 hours hauling up 270 feet of anchor chain and an ~500 lb anchor in the scorching Caribbean sun with little to no relaxing island breezes. Shoutout to the weak little squall that provided some shade and laid some mist on us for like 5 minutes though.
After the group’s morning gains, we got on our way to Francis Bay on the other side of St. John! It was nice to be in motion and finally catch a breeze. We were under way for about an hour and a half before anchoring in the beautiful aqua blue waters of Francis Bay. By then I was looking forward to the end of my watch so I could catch a break. I think everyone noticed energy and morale was a tad low. Just when I thought we would turn over watch and I’d plop right into bed, I was met with even better news. WE WERE GOING TO OPEN CRAMER’S SWIMMING POOL FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THE TRIP!
Sunset in Francis Bay on 11/28/2021.
For those who may not know, this means we get to free swim and jump off the boat. I scurried down to my bunk to get my swimsuit on and went back up on deck to get in line to jump off the bowsprit of the boat. I think that’s what it's called. Sorry if I’m wrong. I don’t have Google and I’m still learning my boat lingo, but you know, the pointy thing on the front of the ship. I JUMPED OFF THAT! FOMO pushed any fear of heights out the window and I went for it. A wave of joy rushed up my body as I became submersed in the most refreshing water I’d felt in hours. I popped my head above the surface just to have a beautiful view of the aqua blue water and the islands in the distance. I’ll attach a picture of the view below for you all back home to see it. Little moments like those remind me how lucky I am to be here.
The first jump was so fun that I thought I’d go for a second one. Pushed my luck. The sea gave my nose a little netty pot treatment. Snotty sea water went shooting from my nose, down my throat. Delicious. I actually can’t wait to jump again though. Hopefully we have another chance. Other than that, I just love being under the water. “Don’t be alarmed. I am going to sink for fun,” was my saying for the rest of free swim.
Now we get to today, Sunday, November 28th. You’ll probably be reading this after Sunday though because I am writing this late. We had our Francis Bay snorkel surveys today. The snorkel was amazing. People from the first boat saw three big sea turtles on their way into the snorkel area. I am on the chemistry team and we had a little free time while other groups took their turn along the transect first. We were practicing duck dives around the sea grass beds when a cute little fish swam up to Amadi. It looked like a kind of juvenile jack. It circled around Amadi for a little while before swimming over to me, and then Pike. It swam around our legs and arms. We thought it might take a curious nibble but it was seemingly just checking us out. No nibbles occurred. At one point, I put out palm, trying to show Pike where the fish was. The fish swam into my palm and stayed there for a little. It proceeded to swim around my hands before moving back to Amadi. As we were swimming away the tiny fishy swam alongside Amadi’s ribcage and beside my legs. I WISH I had my camera to show you all, but the moment was unforgettable enough for me. We saw tons more fish, corals, algae, and sponges throughout the survey. All different kinds of Jacks, Parrotfish, Angelfish, Beaugregories, and more. The clicking of the fishies munching on rocks and corals ran through the water column.
In other news, there appears to be a bit of a stomach bug that has made its way around the crew. I woke up from a long nap after watch/snorkel/data processing to find my classmates feeling sick up on the quarterdeck. A few sickies huddled together in solidarity. I stayed with my classmates because I enjoy their company and I wanted to make sure I was there if anyone needed anything. We sat and watched a beautiful sunset before dinner.
After dinner, a lot of us stayed piled up on the starboard side of the quarterdeck. We eventually propped up Addi’s tablet and play her pre-downloaded episodes of The Haunting of Bly Manor while crew gathered on the port side and sang songs along with the guitar. The stars were beautiful as ever. Amadi and I filled up our hot bags for people with stomach cramps. We made sure people with headaches, fevers, etc, had ice packs if the needed them. Addi shared her pillow and blanket as head rests for anyone who needed comfort. Everyone in this group is so kind, thoughtful, and understanding. They deserve some good care, good rest, and good health. I am hoping to see my shipmates feel better soon. Until then, we have built a great support system here.
- Abby Patterson, B/Port Watch, University of Rhode Island
P.S to my family and friends: I miss you all! You all mean the world to me. I hope you all are happy and healthy. I can’t wait to catch up on your lives when I get back.
Rachel and Caroline: Sending my love and hugs while we all continue to venture into our corners of the world while we follow our dreams. I am so proud of you both. I hope you are making time for each other out there. I am excited to all be together again for the holidays.
Mom and Dad: I love you so much! I hope you’re making time for fun. I’ll be happy to be back in your arms for the holidays. Until then, give Ginger all the love, attention, and affection for me. Xoxo
Grandma: I miss your pumpkin pie. I miss you more though. I am excited for hugs, holidays, and Sunday dinners together <3
To everyone else’s friends and family: As long as I am well enough, I will do my best to take care of your loved ones. Stay safe on your end <3
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Author: Sophie Strock Ship's Log Date: September 29th, 2023 Time: 1700 Location: 17°40.502’ S 178°50.358’ E Weather: Winds coming from the southeast, calm seas, 23° Celsius, and Altocumulus clouds. [...]