|Doug Dunbar (photo by B. Block)|
Time on a vessel following a strict schedule is as much a resource as fresh water, fruit, or toilet paper (the last of which we are running low on). Though the lab and deck are separated by different agendas, both must work together to accomplish the things they set out to do. When coming onto watch for either lab or deck you are confronted with a to-do list often much longer than you have time to complete. It is essential to prioritize, delegate, and communicate in order to get through as much of the list as possible, that way when you turn over to the next watch they have less on their agenda. In Lab you balance deploying scientific equipment with data processing, all the while ensuring the deck is informed and prepared to have the ship at the right speed or orientation so that none of the equipment is damaged. On Deck you balance keeping the labbies happy with maintaining course and speed made good towards whatever destination is next. While getting mama Seamans onto station may sound like a wheel turn away, heaving to on a port tack for science (HTPT4S) involves sail handling, gybing or tacking, and often more hands than are available. This is when you rely on your shipmates to lend a hand so that when it comes time for their watch everything is shipshape and on schedule. Keep in mind, all of this is unfolding on a rolling, bouncing, heeling living entity we have all called home for the last five weeks.
Compensating for the motion of a ship underway manifests itself in many ways. Appetites increase, but weight is not gained, eating meals off the gimbaled tables involves many crunches to maintain a constant range (distance) off your plate. Sleeping in your bunk requires a strategically braced leg to prevent yourself from falling out or crumpling up in a corner.
People walk in sequences, holding fast when the swells make movement energetically inefficient and bursting forward when gravity is once again on their side. Water tight doors that open against the heel of the ship (tilt of the ship) are ankle killing traps that require no small amount of brute force and alacrity to slip through unscathed. Showering involves fortifying yourself in a small stall, fighting an uphill battle against being clean and the negative side effects soap has on your ability to maintain friction. It is easy to spot the freshly woken oncoming watch from their stiff legs and drunken movement, often resulting in unintentional embraces with bulkheads
(walls) or even each other. All in all the motion is one of the many universal forces we all share aboard the Robert C Seamans, it is something that we bond over, from catching one another to jumping up from dinner to clean up a spill from a foolishly placed milk carton.
Without internet or outside communication everyone on board has been relying on the font of knowledge stemming from the book filled library and all of our own skills, strengths, and experiences. This so called intranet arguably yields more information than any Google search, not only do you get your question answered, but you get associated anecdotes and insights that save a lot of time in the long run. Not to mention people frequently expand upon brought up subjects opening up new avenues for future interest or investment of time on board. The number of recommended books, movies, theses, and campsites has merited a long and fruitful list for time on shore. With our journey quickly coming to a close we are all frantically running around to update said lists, download all of our favorite photos, and gather contact information. The last of which is especially important for me as a UC Davis student who will not have the luxury of bumping into these beautiful and intelligent people back on Stanford campus.
|A sailing sunset (photo by Nick Mendoza)|
Still Sailing Strong
-Doug Dunbar S259