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Day 24: Getting our sea legs…

Our friendship with the fog began around the time we were on our way to New York for bunkering, and has continued for the past several days. A thick, heavy mist hangs about the vessel, occasionally parting for us to see brief glimpses of the sky or, very rarely, the horizon. Last night, we were treated to a brief respite around sunset, where we watched the sky turn to brilliant orange and the sun sink into a low-hanging cloud.

Every two minutes, the TSSOM calls out into the lonely sea with her foghorn, a deep, mournful bellow that you can feel through the deck. For many, it’s a nuisance, interrupting a calm slumber, rocked to sleep by the waves. But it reminds me of my childhood in a little town near San Francisco, where, every night, I could hear the howl of ships’ whistles and the baying of buoys as the fog rolled in over the bay. At home, I can hear trains across the river, galloping over tracks used for a hundred years, and in my dorm room, the soft ringing of the CH Buoy.

It’s strange not to be able to see more than a half-mile. I had expected to see straight to the horizon, to watch the green flash of the sun in a cloudless sky, but it seems the TSSOM is in her own world. The sea swells are impressive to the freshmen still getting their sea legs under them, but not so much to the juniors. They’re old hands at this, unphased by underway life, and it makes it easier for us – though still rather wobbly, we can rely on the upperclassmen for a sense of calm and an example to follow. If they aren’t worried, we aren’t either…though we’re due for a little bit of weather sometime in the next few days, which should make things a bit more fun.

Life aboard the ship continues quite unremarkably. Some of us rise with the sun, others roll out of bed and stumble up several flights of stairs a mere minute or two before muster. Morale is high. We’re having ping-pong and cribbage tournaments, and already there’s some good-natured rivalry going.

Of note, the ship’s Minecraft server is up and running better than ever. It’s proven to be incredibly popular, and an excellent way to keep us all entertained. I’ve even been convinced to download Minecraft for the first time since about 2015, and I’m just now figuring out how to make iron swords. Others are having markedly better success with netherite and diamonds, and I believe a few folks are on their way to beat the Ender Dragon.

The food is continually excellent, work is not terribly difficult, watch is interesting (but involves quite a bit of mopping after cleaning out sea strainers) and everyone is cheerful as we progress towards Europe. I haven’t seen any more birds or butterflies – we must be getting too far out for them – but a small group of us spotted a mola mola (ocean sunfish), a large, round fish that subsists on jellyfish and drifts through the ocean mostly by currents. Every evening, at least a few cadets are out on the fantail fishing.

Some of us have taken to riding the waves up in the forecastle, since the motion of the ship is most dramatic there. One moment, you’re weightless, and the next, it feels like the you’re being crushed. We stumble around, laughing, and so far, it seems to be an effective preventative against seasickness, since our berthings and staterooms are comparatively calm. And, to be fair, the seas might not even be that bad – the freshmen are just now learning how to steer, and if you watch for long enough from the fantail, our wake makes continual “S” shapes.

Despite the trials and tribulations of freshmen at the helm, the TSSOM rides smoothly, her sleek bow cutting gracefully through the waves. Seeing her at the dock, you might think she’s an old, rusty, cumbersome thing, and sure, you can tell she’s a training ship now, not a state-of-the-art research vessel anymore. But out here, underway, she’s simply a delight; you can tell she’s well-designed and built for carrying several tons of sensitive equipment (or, now, several seasick cadets…)

To everyone that complimented my last post- thank you very much! I’ve gotten several messages and they all mean a ton to me. I have been rereading them often – I really appreciate them, and it’s nice to know my mom isn’t the only person who reads these..:) Writing is one of my favorite hobbies, and I’m pleased that I can continue it on cruise. To all the family members and friends out there, lots of love from all of us on the TSSOM! We hope you’re having an excellent summer, and we’re excited to tell you all about cruise when we return.

As always, we’re looking forward to our next adventure just over the horizon. Clocks change over tonight, yet another marker of our progress across the Atlantic. Soon, we’ll be out of the fog, and on our way to sunny Tenerife for the beginning of our Mediterranean summer.

Post By: 4/C Meredith Spotts, MTO Charlie Company


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