Wednesday, May 15, 2013

From the Eyes of a First-Time Sailor

It’s incredible what closed quarters and disturbed gravity can do to a group of diverse people after five days. Onboard a ship at sea, everyone has a certain unspoken understanding of one another: No one cares if you’re wearing the same clothes you’ve been wearing for three days, you don’t feel reprimanded when someone’s shouting orders at you, there’s no need to apologize when you bump into someone walking by, you can’t get angry at the person waking you up weird hours in the night, and a half-crumpled package of saltines is a sign of compassion. On the mainland this lifestyle would seem strange to say the least, but in the middle of the Pacific, it all makes sense. Out here, everyone’s rocked by the boat in the same way, we all heave our breakfast over the same rail, and we develop the same callouses on our palms.  As bizarre as all that seems, it keeps us going, it’s the wind in the sails of this community (oh yes, I went there.).

Blog author Brian Leahy

                After being immersed in such a peculiar environment for just a couple days, you learn a lot: you discover exactly how much time is necessary for an adequate shower, how many stars are present in a light pollution-less atmosphere, how to fuel yourself effectively on four hours of sleep and caffeine, or how dark your skin can get under a tropical sun. You see what kinds of conversations spark up when “what have you been up to today?” is no longer a genuine question. People’s stories are voiced, jokes of questionable taste are told, and peanut butter becomes a topic of philosophical significance.
Away from everything you know on land, you’re left with nothing but open water, variable winds, and a celestial sphere interrupted only by horizon. In the center of that, a lot changes about yourself—what you value, how you see others, and how you see yourself. There’s no currency out on the seas, instead you work to earn respect, dignity, and self-achievement. Your definition of the word indulgence amends to an extra half hour of sleep, or a shared bunk with a spoonful of Nutella. You come to the realization that shoes are just to keep your feet safe, clothes are just to keep you warm, and hair is just hair. You discover how much a bow watch shift can motivate the most intimate self reflections as your eyes gaze from the shooting stars overhead, to the bioluminescence in the turbulent waters below. Overall, you experience life and your thoughts in a way free from your comfort zone and all the distractions that come with it.

Making music on the back deck

While our voyage on through the Pacific has only just begun, the experience so far has already left a lasting impact on all of us. The things we have learned and will continue to learn will not be left adrift at sea, rather they will allow us to become more acquainted with our authentic selves, and see the world through wiser perspective. Although when we return back to the mainland the tables may stop moving, our balance may be more stable, and the windows in our homes may not be filled with seawater vortices, we will all take a little bit of the Bobby C life with us.


Michelle Leahy said...

Capture a little bit of the salty freedom, and rejuvenation for us all, Bri!!

Michelle Leahy said...

Capture a little bit of the salty freedom, and rejuvenation for us all, Bri!!

Meryl Winnikoff said...

Thanks. You really bring it the experience home to us stateside. Can't wait to read more.