SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
April 10, 2015
Community and Reflection
038° 24.3’S x 155° 00.0’W
Course & Speed
Course Ordered 000°, Course Steered 025°, 7 knots
Sailing under the Tops’l, Fisherman, and the 4 lowers: Mains’l , Main Stays’l, Fore Stays’l, Jib
Overcast skies, Strong winds coming from WNW
During the shore component, our little group of 24 quickly became a close-knit community. We were advised to avoid cliques and strive to include everyone, and we took that advice to heart. When we arrived onboard, I expected the close quarters to put a strain on our group dynamics. Since we are only 135 feet away from each other at all times wouldn’t we get tired of each other? But as the weeks progress I’m finding the opposite becoming a problem. Our watch schedule limits our time together—the only time everyone is awake is during our 1430 class. We do get to hang out at meals but sometimes it seems like days since I’ve seen people from other watches.
Yet, despite this limiting schedule, life aboard ship fosters an even deeper sense of community than I could have foreseen in the shore component. I am depending on others (individuals I’ve known for only two months) more than I’ve relied on anyone in my young adult life. We count on our shipmates to wake each other up on time for watches, to perform the hourly boat check to make sure everything is in running order, and to generally make sure we are doing OK. The motto is “Ship, Shipmates, Self,” so instead of just looking out for myself, I have 23 others to do the job as well. As a result, I feel closer to everyone in this program with every passing day.
Another hesitation I had before arriving was that, in the hustle and bustle of life on the ship, alone time for personal reflection would be lacking. I thought that in our busy schedule, sleeping and using the head would be the only times we were alone, and as a bit of an introvert that concerned me. But again, reality has surpassed my expectations. The schedule is taxing and most parts of the ship are communal spaces, but I have plenty of time to just think. On lookout, gazing at more sky than I’ve ever seen before, I can’t help but think about how small we seem compared to the vastness around us. I think everyone uses this time to mull things over or just to enjoy the moment. Sometimes I hear snatches of a song (ranging from folk songs to Bohemian Rhapsody) coming from the bowsprit. With this time to relax, even with our busy schedule I usually end my day feeling at peace.
Life onboard ship is vastly different than anything else I have, and probably ever will, experience. I feel so lucky to be able to share the communal aspects and discuss personal reflections with everyone else in this program!
P.S. To my lovelies back home: happy birthday Dad and hugs to Mom and Jorain.