SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
December 23, 2014
41°14.251’S x 174°50.789’E
Crisp & Clear
Sail Plan & Course/Speed
At anchor in Wellington Harbor
Ever since writing my last blog post I have been concerned about this one. What would I say about our very last day? How would I sum up this voyage and do the rest of my ship proud? I am not this vessel’s most artistic writer, in fact I tend to write very technically and without flourish. I am not one of the people on this vessel who has been in love with this experience from the very beginning; I am grateful for it, but also ready to come home to my family. So how could I possibly be the right person to write this final blog post? They say that if you wait long enough what you need will come to you. Dawn Watch of December 21st, 2014 was the last sailing watch for C Watch and with that watch would come the inspiration for this blog post.
It was in that darkness with 35 knot winds ripping at my clothes and hair that I realized what I truly gained from this experience. Within five minutes of being on deck I found myself on the main’sl downhaul with a combination of other women from my watch (C Watch) and the off-going watch (B Watch). We would be responsible for hauling that line until the main’sl was all the way down. We were in for a long haul and a fight with the wind.
As the call came, “Haul away your downhaul!” we took up the chant of “2, 6, HEAVE!” and began to haul. Not once did I feel alone on that line. As I would lose my breath and be unable to call the chant, Kate M. would take it up next to me. As one of us would falter to give more to the line, another would step up. It was seamless, in that moment we were one.
With the downhaul made fast, another call came across the wind, “Hands to strike the jib!” Some of us made our way to the bow to help on any available line; she was struck swiftly. As I prepared to lay out onto the bowsprit to wrestle the sail into a furl with a handful of others, I did not feel unsafe. Christopher was calling the sail evolution and he was watching out for us. “Be quick, but stay safe” he demanded of us, “call out who you are as you lay on.” And so we did. “Kylie laying on” I shouted out to him, and he repeated it back to me. At the same time, those already out on the headrig called to me, “Lay away!” As we struggled in the dark, we slowly succeeded in our task and made move to quickly get back aboard the vessel. As I climbed back over, I called out, “Kylie back on!” and Chris was there to repeat it back to me. I moved past him, hearing him saying our names to himself. He knows who is onboard and who is still out in the darkness, he vigilantly watches until we are all safely aboard.
My feet back firmly on the deck, I respond to another call, “Hands to furl the mainstays’l.” To reach the mainstays’l I must cross from the doghouse to top of the lab using the mainmast ladder and balancing on the traveler. Going over is always the easy part as the traveler angle makes the step across seem narrow, but to step back to the doghouse the angle makes the void seem wide. After the furl is complete, I am the second one to cross. I openly hesitate; it is dark, the wind is strong, and my leg span minimal.
Allisa, who has crossed before me, steals me back away from the fear with “It’s ok. I’m right here for you,” and she was. As I step over I see her in the dark, down on one knee to stabilize herself, one hand reached out to me. I step across and she steadies me until I can come down on a knee myself.
There were many others in the dark that lent me a steadying hand, kept me from feeling alone, or offered me assistance, and I readily did the same for whomever whenever I was able. What struck me after the fact was that in the situations that I have recounted for you, those offering me assistance were not of my watch.
We have come together, without my realization, as one waka.