Monday, June 10, 2013

Part of the Ship, Part of the Sea

At some point between overcoming mal de mer and obtaining worthy sea legs, the cacophony of sensations produced by boat and sea synchronizes with one’s internal rhythm. The rocking of the ship becomes the lilt of one’s step; the hull crashing into the waves falls neatly in time with one’s breaths, steadily lazing in and out, up and down; the crack of the sails is as measured as the beating of an eyelid. There is a music to the ship, and if one has taken care enough to listen, it has become part of our own inner tempo as the ship’s crew.

As we approach the end of our odyssey, the sensations of the ship have transformed into a familiar quotidian cadence as our symbiosis with the Bobby C. brings us ever closer to understanding her inner workings. From the rush of saccharine anti-freeze upon entry into the lab to the claustrophobic musk of a cabin whose butterfly hatches have been long closed to a squall, the ambiance of the ship is familiar, welcoming, and known. After fighting against the chaos of the first weeks while attempting to memorize sailing lines, get science projects off the ground, and fight against the all-crippling condition of sea sickness, attention to the ship herself, her needs, and her wants as the organism upon which we live was perhaps forgotten. Through time, we were able to make sense of the tempo of daily life onboard the ship and our responsibilities as crew, and the Bobby C. became less of a ship and more of a being whose authentic self we were only just beginning to experience. We now have instincts and an intuition about the ship: we know to jump straight to the JT Halyard  when the winds pick up, we understand which hatches need to be dogged down to keep the people and the ship dry during a squall, and we volunteer when a boat check needs doing. Over the past several weeks, we have matured and tuned ourselves into the rhythm of the ship. Through the initial chaos, we have internalized the cadenced order of the ship.

There is a pulse to the Bobby C., a throb of life generated solely by our cooperation with one another and with the ship herself. We live in time with the rise and fall of the waves, the gusting and waning of the winds, and the timely passage of a storm. And for perhaps the first time in any of our lives, these extreme conditions which have demanded equally extreme degrees of attention and vigilant observation have permitted us to transcend the perspective of an individual and plug into an experience built on synchronized camaraderie. With two days left until we greet land and soil once more, we have become part of the ship and part of the sea, for as much as we need the Bobby C. to set sail for new horizons, for science, or for whatever reasons brought us here in the first place, the Bobby C. has needed us to remain in perpetual harmony.

-Alessandra Santiago

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