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SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans

October 19, 2015

How to Become a Salty Sailor

Mairin Wilson, B watch, Middlebury College


Me (Mairin) practicing my helm stance

Current position
18 34.14’ S x 178 27.79’E

Course and Speed
190 degrees, 2.5 knots

clear, starry skis

Souls on Board

A few days ago we started phase two of the sailing portion of the program.

In this phase we are getting more responsibilities and honing our sailing skills. To quantify these skills the mates made a checklist, which includes knowing where all the lines are, the parts of the sails, the lookouts responsibility, etc. Although these skills are crucial for us to safely take on more responsibilities, there is a lot more to becoming a truly salty Seaman. Looking comfortable while at sea takes more than checkmarks on a list; a sailor has to have certain sailor swag. Although I have only witnessed our captain's and mates' casually living aboard for a few weeks, here is a list of what I see as the 4 most important salty sailor characteristics:

1. Helm stance
Manning the helm is no easy task. The helmsman is in charge of maneuvering a 700,000 pound vessel though treacherous seas. Looking relaxed and nonchalant is crucial in becoming a true sailor. Third mate Kevo, for example, rests one hip on the boat, relaxes his arms, and smoothly steers on course while not intensely focusing on the compass.

2. Killer arm strength
The crew is constantly striking and setting sails. Hauling the halyards and down-halls take a lot of manpower, and often the students get to a point where there seems to be no more line to haul. Then a mate comes over and miraculously hauls in two feet of line with ease. Although us students have yet to get killer arm strength, with help from Ship Shape Gym (a crew-run gym on the forward deck) we will by the end of the trip.

3. First day of sailing excitement
The first day at sea after a port stop always includes Captain Sean ecstatically walking, more like skipping, around the boat. Leaving Wallis, he ran up to the deck, looked around, through his hands up, and said "we're finally sailing, isn't this great?"  A true sailor has a passion for the sea and is happiest in open water. 

4. Knowing when to be serious
The Captain and mates have the daunting task of sailing a ship with a crew of amateurs. This could result in a constant flow of orders and reprimands; however, our mates and Captain know how to use our mistakes as teaching opportunities. This makes the stress level on the boat decrease and the quality of life to increase.

- Mairin

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#1. Posted by Kate McIvor on October 20, 2015

Looks like you have the relaxed salty-sailor look down-pat.

Miss you, Miss Mairin



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