Location: Underway to the Marquesas

Today started out bright and early for Watch Team One; we had the 0800 shift to bring us into another beautiful day on the Pacific Ocean. Blue skies, scorching sun, wispy clouds, and a breeze of 10-15 knots is the perfect recipe for a passage day. We entertained ourselves this morning with a number of conversation topics. Admittedly, we often (usually) talk about food, but today our conversation was more on the topic of amusing antics after waking up from wisdom tooth surgery, strange bodily functions, and at-home cast removals. With an EMT in the group (Ian), we sometimes end up down these weird medical rabbit holes. It was a toasty one today, so we were decked out in hats, long sleeves, and lots of sunscreen to protect ourselves. We have been sailing along without the need for the engine for a couple of days now, and everyone loves the peacefulness of sailing. A phrase often heard on deck at night is “red over green, sailing machine” in reference to the signal lights we have at the top of our mast to indicate to other vessels that we are under sail power only. We anticipate that the wind will slack off any time now, so we are enjoying it while we can.

The chef team outdid themselves again for lunch. Thanks to head chef Drake and sous chefs Alex and Eliza, we had a brunch of champions. Homemade shredded hashbrowns, apple sauce, and literally more fluffy pancakes than we could eat brought us into our somewhat sleepy, carb coma afternoon. After lunch, the students had a marine biology class with Amy, followed by a leadership class with Ian. After showers, the students had their typical ritual of on-deck saltwater showers. They are always a brisk, refreshing activity with the high-pressure sea hose followed by a quick freshwater final rinse to conserve water.

Dinner and sunset are always welcome after a scorching afternoon, and today was no exception. Everyone gathered in the cockpit to enjoy chicken, mac and cheese, and homemade soft pretzels prepared by the hard-working chef team. Dinner is one of my favorite times of day during the passage because it’s one of the few times when everyone is together, and we get to share with each other during the squeeze. While we are underway, our three-team watch schedules make it, so we spend a lot of time with our group, but we sometimes find ourselves missing quality time with our friends on the other teams. My squeeze question for the night was, “Share with the group a piece of advice, quote, or word of wisdom that you try to live by.” We got a lot of great answers, including things like learning not to be too hard on yourself, treasuring the simple things in life, worrying less about being perfect, and always working hard at what you set your mind to. My quote was, “Bravery is not the absence of fear, but doing what makes you afraid despite that fear.” As I reflect on our last 67 days, I have seen so many people take on these words very literally. From learning how to scuba dive, being at the helm in high winds, taking science exams, and striking out on a long Pacific crossing, shipmates have been facing fears all over the place. It makes me very proud to see how far we have all come as individuals and a crew as a whole. We are not the same people we were 67 days ago- we are so much more: a large, unusual, slightly sunburned, goofy family of divers, navigators, scientists, leaders, and sailors. We all have a little bit of all of these qualities in us now.

Update: this afternoon, right before dinner, the wind died down, so we have now dropped the mainsail, turned on the main engine, and we are motor sailing with just the staysails up. As we near the end of our long crossing, we have our fingers crossed for a little more sailing, but for tonight we are being lulled to sleep by the hum of the engine and the light of the moon and stars. It’s bedtime now to watch team one, as we have the 0400-0800 shift in the morning.

Pictured: The letters on our life ring in the cockpit have seen better days. We have gotten creative; Ian taking a sun sight with the sextant this morning; an alternative view of the cockpit.

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