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SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans
December 11, 2014
Ship Work Day
At anchor in Prince Rupert Bay, Portsmouth, Dominica
“GOOD MORNING, EMMA!” My day started with the cheery boom of Willy’s voice. Despite this being my twenty-seventh morning aboard the Cramer, I woke up unsure what to expect of the day’s events. Since we’ve been at anchor, the ship’s company has been broken into two watches - port watch and starboard watch. Starboard watch had the day off today, so it was up to port watch to take care of Mama Cramer.
After an all-hands breakfast of strata and chocolate-chip muffins, it was time to get to work. Students spent the morning writing and drawing in their academic journals, while the crew brainstormed shipboard projects to be accomplished while in port. Nina stayed busy all the while, stewing up delicious snacks and meals to get us through the day. It did not take long for Willy and Kevin to concoct a list of to-dos. There were projects to help with in the engine room and the lab, and plenty of maintenance work
for the ship.
Becca and Missy set up on the quarterdeck with a set of blocks that were in need of a good sanding down and a fresh coat of paint. As they got busy with that, I harnessed up and headed aloft. From way up there, all the way up on the course yard, my eyes set upon the sight of overwhelming green. Dominica is a beautiful island, one that is made even more beautiful when one gets the pleasure of viewing it with a bird’s (in particular the magnificent frigate bird’s) eye view. I set to waxing the yards, never forgetting to look up from my work and be grateful for the tremendous mountains ahead of me.
When I finished waxing the course yard I descended back down to join Missy on the quarterdeck. We painted the blocks a clean, smooth white. After setting them to dry, we took a minute to sit and look at our work. It felt satisfying to accomplish jobs around the ship. It was time well spent, giving back to our home - one that had carried us safely across 3200 nautical miles of ocean.
For my next act I teamed up with Heather. Willy equipped us with thick, used-to-be-red mittens and tethered, used-to-be-chocolate-filled Hershey’s syrup bottles, and sent us out to the bowsprit. Under the sprit, there is a series of webbing called the head-rig. When we are at sea, this webbing allows us to safely set and strike the heads’ls. The webbing is made of thick line covered in pine tar. How does the pine tar get there? Well, today Heather and I found out.
We each took a side of the rig and began out at the very tip of the bowsprit. With one hand, we poured globs of tar into the big mittens. The texture of the mittens was not unlike that of a tired, droopy, drool-encrusted dog toy, perhaps one that should have been abandoned in the garage months ago. Once the mitten is heavy with tar, one simply smears the black paste about the lines, being sure to coat all surfaces. Heather and I worked our way from the end of the sprit back towards the ship. The work was messy, but silly jokes and booming laughter made it an easy job.
After an all-hands lunch and a mid-day Dawn Clean-Up, everyone met on deck for a swim call. More joyously than children on Christmas we splashed into the water. Once we were submerged in the warm Caribbean blues, nothing could lure us back onto the deck. Nothing, that is, except for shampoo. We took turns sudsing up before returning to the bath water below, usually via a cannonball off the bowsprit.
“Three more minutes,” “Hirschy” (Matt Hirsch) told us. But three minutes turned into fifteen, and then to twenty, and then to half an hour more. Swim calls are a grand way for even the most exhausted of sailors to fully refresh themselves, and soon spirits were high all around.
How can an afternoon get any better? With chocolate cake, of course! Today is Becca’s twentieth birthday! As a means of celebrating her departure from teen-hood, we found it entirely necessary to chow down an entire cake. Happy Birthday, Becca! We love you!
Starboard watch returned from their adventures ashore just in time for a relaxing dinner on deck. Tonight, galley clean-up was a breeze. Christmas carols sang and chimed from the speakers as Nina placed our miniature Christmas tree on the hutch. Although we may be island hopping through the Caribbean, the holiday season is in full swing onboard the Cramer.
Wishing those back home star-filled skies and delightful Decembers,
Shout-out to all the friends! I don’t even know what hemisphere some of you guys are in right now, hopefully we’ll internet soon! Mom, Dad, and Lib - I love and miss you guys, can’t wait to get in touch with you! Thanks for all the lunar love!