SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
April 03, 2014
The Seafaring Life
10° 20.2’ S x 144° 11.5’ W
Course & Speed
050° at 2.2 knots
Mainly clear skies with some cumulus clouds all day. Currently the night sky is filled with the most and brightest stars I’ve ever seen.
It seems everyone is settling deeper into the seafaring life aboard the Seamans. I have observed more and more people awake when they are not on watch. Perhaps because for the most part we have all gained our sea legs and are no longer exhausted from sea sickness and the new sleeping routine. Today, I got closer to accomplishing one of my lifetime goals of learning how to use the sextant. Many of us took advantage of the clear skies and used the sextants to ‘shoot some sun lines’, precompute our local apparent noon and then find our angle at that time to ultimately try to find our latitude. To me, this is just the coolest skill ever.
Today many of us also took advantage of the squall-free day to do laundry. Now for those who are not accustomed with the seafaring lifestyle, laundry on a sailing vessel can be quite the undertaking. There reaches a critical point when the laundry heap pushed to the very corner of your bunk must be addressed because you’re pretty sure it just blinked at you. Not only have articles of clothing been worn for days on end, but they have been drenched in sweat, splashed by salty sea water, rained on, and smothered with seven layers of sun screen. There are no washers (or ‘warshers’ if you are my mother dearest) and dryers. There is a bucket and the sun. Battle plans vary, but typically laundry is placed into a five gallon bucket, some detergent is added and filled with some salt water from a spigot on deck. Using your own tactic you swirl, mix, and scrub away. You then rinse with fresh water and ring it out to the best of your ability. Great, you now have fresh clean clothes!
But don’t be fooled - this is only half the battle and the next half is uphill. You string up a line in some acceptable place on the vessel if there isn’t already one rigged. Once you have half your clothes up, you realize there are no more clothes pins and you still have a heap of dripping wet clothes. You look both ways and take some pins from a pair of boxers that surely doesn’t need three pins. Fantastic, now all you have to do is wait and in a matter of minutes you’ll have some ocean fresh laundry that will look and smell just like the label on your soap bottle. After a couple hours of sun your clothes are ready, but before you have time to contemplate collecting them, a squall rolls in that lasts just long enough to completely drench your clothes again. No problem, it’s a second rinse, I’ll just wait a couple more hours and they’ll dry out. Before you know it, you hear the call for “laundry twilight” and all laundry must be taken down and stowed for the night. You carry your ball of wet articles down below with you where it’ll once again live in a heap at the foot of your bunk, and pray to Neptune that you’ll get a chance to finish tomorrow.
This laundry scenario happens more often than not. In a single day we can experience several short bursts of rain - just enough to dampen everyone’s clothes and moods. However, it’s a bonding experience and it can be made better with a little sense of humor. The highlight of my day today was doing laundry on the bow, scrubbing in my bucket when I look up to see Beau with his towel tied around him like a cape making super hero poses and trying to get his ‘cape’ to catch in the wind. This is before he disappeared and reemerged on the lab top where he proclaimed “B watch may be able to sleep, but there is no rest for me!”
Before I end, I would like to shout out to my family that I love and miss so dearly: Mom, Dad, Julie, Grace, Jordan, Gary, and to all my friends back at home! I’m having the greatest adventure of my life and I can’t wait to see you guys when I get back!