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SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans
November 04, 2015
Routines that are Never Routine
30° 35.1’ N x 15° 34.1’ W
Cool, clear, starry night.
Perusing past blog posts for inspiration, I realized how little attention gets paid to the daily routine of the ship. And yet it takes over much of our life: even beyond the determination of when we sleep and eat, it’s relatively easy to predict what you might be doing at any given time. On the watches, one of the JWO’s main tasks is ensuring the steady rotation of people between the constant jobs. Someone’s always steering and someone’s always keeping a visual lookout. Every hour we record the weather, and someone checks the entire boat for anything out of the ordinary at least every hour. There are other constants between all
watches: waking up the next watch, washing dishes, recording the watch change in the logbook. On top of this are the duties paired with each specific watch. Galley cleanup happens each evening, there are Neuston tows at noon and midnight, navigation lights get turned on and off daily, and so forth.
As I was mentally drafting this post on watch this morning, however, I was abruptly reminded of the disruptions in the routine, small and large, that are intrinsic to such a variable environment. On the bow with a beautiful sunrise (one “routine” occurrence that in itself is never the same and doesn’t get old), several people saw the green flash! Inconveniently, in doing my job, I chose that moment to scan the rest of the horizon and missed it. But my dutiful lookout was rewarded not too long after when I saw spouting in the distance, tentatively identified as two or three sperm whales.
In an even more dramatic break in routine a few nights ago, I woke from my pre-watch nap to cries of “Fire in the engine room!” and the general alarm. Eventually the follow-up phrase “this is a drill,” and a correction from “fire” to “flooding” made their way forward to my bunk, but not before I was thoroughly startled awake and most of the way on deck. As it was a flooding drill, my watch’s role, usually focused on preparations for fighting a fire, turned out to be mainly standing by in case the other watches needed assistance, but the practice of being surprised was certainly valuable - as was the reminder of the importance of each individual boat check.
Meanwhile the looming end of the semester steals sleep from everyone’s schedule, but throughout it all the Cramer keeps sailing safely (and slowly) onwards towards the Canary Islands.
P.S. Sending hugs to my family, friends, and acorn back home!