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Donkey Riding

Jul 15, 2010


Location: Nevis
Author: Sydney “Way hey and away we go donkey riding, donkey riding,
Way hey and away we go we’re riding on a donkey” While we do not sing sea shanties on the Ocean Star, last night/this morning’s choppy passage certainly reminded me of this one I heard elsewhere. Yesterday we left the BVIs and started an about 24 hour trip down to Nevis, working in three watch groups that each took turns working for 3 hours and being off for 6. The layer of salt encrusting my entire self gives you a pretty good idea of how wet things were getting, either from the intermittent rain or constant spray. While on watch there are three main positions, bow watch, helm, and boat checks every hour. Sitting up on bow watch one has to keep an eye out for boats and things, and in the process ends up soaking wet, each wave illuminated as the bow juts down and shines its running lights into the sea. Helm steers, pretty straightforward (hah), and boat checks happen every hour to make sure everything is working properly and to plot our position on the chart. While this may all sound damp and dreary, it is exactly what I came for: the exhilaration of our tiny selves on our own oceanic infinity. Like in the poem “Sea Fever”, which one of our staff read for us before departing, “all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by/ the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sails racing/ and the flung spray and the blown spume and the sea gulls crying.” Even off hours are exciting as no one can escape the pitching of the boat, particularly those of us up in the foc’sle (the forward most bunks). All in all, the passage went very well. No one was terribly sick, catastrophe did not strike, and though we motored for most of it (since the course was upwind) we did get some sailing in at the end. After a wonderful dinner of chicken salad and risotto we are about to take the first of several Hibiclense showers and fully cleans ourselves of any funk, as well as spruce up the boat in case customs decided to drop in. yeah!