SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
March 08, 2020
Self-Care at Sea
70nm east of Kaimoho Point, southbound
Today is day four of our longest sea stretch of the trip, which will last eleven days total. I can't decide if that seems like a short trip or an eternity. It feels as if the days at sea are nebulous at best and nonexistent at worst. Time is entirely defined by purpose here, which is a big shift from life on land. Our time is divided between being on or off watch, and each of those times has its own subdivisions. On watch our time is strictly scheduled as we busy ourselves keeping the ship running smoothly or working in the lab, however as soon as we are off watch that time is entirely ours. Meals and class time provide a welcome indicator of the passage of time, especially for those of us sleeping at odd hours of the day, meaning most of us.
Sleeping tends to take up most of my off watch time, and the first day or so after setting off is the worst. After leaving Aotea Great Barrier Island all I wanted to do with my free time was sleep, and there wasn't exactly anyone to stop me from doing just that. It felt so ridiculously liberating to know that I could just sleep away several days and not only have everyone support me, but not fall behind at all. After I got that out of my system I've fallen into a pretty good rhythm getting plenty of sleep and still having free time to hang out with my shipmates. It's honestly shocking how quickly we all accepted some of the weirdest parts about ship life. Even the simplest things are made exponentially more difficult on a moving ship, I've already got more than one bruise just from trying to get dressed.
As crazy as it sounds, this kind of environment is exactly what I think I needed to start taking care of myself. We are all so focused on tending to ourselves and the ship that self-care is basically all we do. In this tight knit community the only expectations are that I do my fair share and respect everyone else. Combined with my division of time being entirely based on my needs and responsibilities, it gives me a great framework to do what I need to do to be happy and healthy. In my regular life I find myself forgetting to take time for myself, staying up all night to finish projects, and overall running myself ragged. Here I feel like I sleep plenty, I eat more than enough, I don't stress out over the few deadlines I have, and I feel like I truly get to enjoy the beauty and the amazing people around me. As I type this I'm wedged into my bunk so I can stay in one place while the boat pitches and rolls, and I'm laughing at the fact that I am asserting this as self-care, but I truly believe it. I think this experience has allowed me to better grasp what my needs are and how to budget my time to meet them, and to understand that I have to take care of myself to be able to take care of my shipmates. And I know without a doubt that they will keep taking care of me, too.
- Gillian Murphey
P.S. Love and miss you all back home!