SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
April 21, 2015
Expectations vs Reality
25° 21.1’S x 146° 08.7’W
Course & Speed
330 true, 6kts
Main stays’l, Fore stays’l, and the Jib
Windy (F5) and cloudy—great sailing weather!
Expectations are an inevitable part of life. They shape the way we experience life, and can make a moment better or worse just from the state of mind you come in with. This program is a perfect example of how expectations can color your experience. I had never sailed or had any experience with boats before starting this semester back in Woods Hole. My expectations consisted of being in a totally foreign environment with a bunch of people who I didn’t know very well and having to learn almost everything from scratch just to be able to function properly aboard a ship. All of these expectations were met, but that does not mean I had a bad time. The opposite is in fact true! I prepared myself for this life-changing experience and knew that putting yourself out of your comfort zone is a scary, but very rewarding decision to make.
Chief Mate Will read an excerpt from the book "Tuning the Rig" today in class, which put into words the exact feeling I am trying to convey here. The narrator talked about his romantic expectations of life on a ship and how frustrated he was when he learned what it was actually going to be like and how it seemed that everyone else had it so much more together than he, while in reality everyone had that exact same thought about all the others, too. They all had different expectations coming onboard, but they helped each other out when everything seemed to just be too much. One of the jokes that gets made a lot is that we’re all in the same boat here. Not only does this elicit some satisfying groans, it is also a very true statement and one that a lot of the student crew doesn’t forget easily. We rely on each other for moral, emotional, and sometimes physical support all the time. Project work, celestial navigation assignments, science deployments, gybing—all aspects of life on a ship are community oriented.
Having a good support system is especially important now when we finally are getting into Phase III of the cruise: JWO/JLO Phase. The JWO or JLO runs either the deck or lab, respectively, while our professional watch officers basically become just another crew member, taking orders from the JWO/JLO. This has been a very nerve-wracking time for many students. We have learned so much, yet there’s still so much more to figure out and think about. I would say it is probably impossible to not make at least one mistake on your JWO watch, but thankfully, this, along with everything else, is a team-building exercise. As our watch officers have told us many times, we will succeed or fail as a team and no one will be left out in the open all by themselves. In this aspect—building a community where I feel comfortable coming to anyone with a problem—my expectations have been exceeded above and beyond. Thank you S-258!
P.S. Hello and hugs to my family at home: Mom, Dad, Amy, Evan, Jon, and Noah! Miss you all and hope everything is well in the States. Dallas: Happy Anniversary, Honeybear! I love you and miss you tons. I hope you’re liking Beijing!