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Day 27: Ships, whales, and waves oh my!

Sunsets, sunrise, whales, and boats. Standing watch is an equal balance of seeing so many incredible things and seeing nothing at all.

Charlie company stood their first double-day watch of cruise which many faced with a bit of apprehension. Watch days involve two 4-hour watches with an eight-hour break between. With a double watch day, it meant 16 total hours of watch standing. Though the number doesn’t seem that daunting, it means operating on a totally different schedule. It might mean you are working four hours during the night and sleeping all day or vice versa. It is a busy time as lunch becomes breakfast to some, and dinner becomes breakfast to others.

While the freshman students are still divided between deck and engine, I have been able to stand deck watch for the first half of cruise. For my first entire day of watch I rotated between steering, and standing bow and stern watch. Steering has been an engaging experience that takes a lot of focus. I have learned that if someone is talking to me I end up a few too many degrees off course. I guess I can’t multitask that well. The other challenging part is that the current and wind will push the bow of the TSSOM. Sometimes you will be steering a heading of 104 degrees and you give the rudder maybe 2 degrees to get back onto your course of 105 and suddenly the rate of turn shoots up because the current is contributing to the turn and suddenly you are now at 108 degrees! Completely off your course! There is often a joke on board of, “Hey! Who’s steering the ship!” as heavy turns cause the whole ship to rock about.

Standing stern and bow watch is an entirely different experience. Instead of intense focus on the wheel, you stare into the abyss of the ocean. Occasionally you see a whale breach, a really good wave, or a ship in the far distance, but most of the time you see nothing at all. Thankfully we still remain in the Gulf Stream which even in the middle of the night means warm winds and warm temperature. Though not doing the same job, after standing a few watches in winter storms in Castine on the TSSOM, I have become very thankful for the warm weather aboard. Many people spend the time outdoors on watch singing to themselves or thinking about what is for dinner. While I was on watch, we ran parallel to a large ship for a while with a small sail boat between us. A brief radio chatter revealed that the man in the sailboat was British! With about 5 days into the Atlantic, everything is super exciting!

I was thankful to have the 0800-1200 and the 2000-0000 watch which meant out of everyone, I had the most normal sleep schedule. The second day of watch I got a new job which was “Fire and Security”. F/S is the typical job freshman do at Castine watches so it was a small comfort. The F/S watchstanders often mirrors the junior deck job “BMOW”. The BMOW walks around the ship for the entire four hours to make sure everything is in line. As F/S I tried to do the same. The F/S round has typical checkpoints but while I did my rounds I went everywhere else in between. What I truly find as the treasure of F/S is the ability to find random tasks to do along the way. The 01 forward fan room was drenched in water and I spent a lot of my watch mopping it up and searching for a dry mop head. I cleaned watch mess, brewed coffee for the next watch, overfilled the coffee, spilled the coffee, and then re-cleaned watch mess. It doesn’t get much better than that.

On the eight hours off between watch the majority of people sleep. Even when its sunny and warm the lingering thought of getting a few more hours of rest always win. On my time off I finished a book I was reading, made a friendship bracelet, and most importantly: slept a lot!

We are roughly halfway across the Atlantic which is fascinating. Truly we are, “in the middle of nowhere” but that only reiterates the passion of cruising on the ocean. The rocking of the ship, the warm sun, and the constant bustle of people laughing makes it feel that we could go on this course forever.

Post By: 4/C Mia Plaskiewicz, MTO Charlie Company



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