"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

Underway: Student Writing

>> Sunday, May 15, 2011



JWO is the most incredible bout of independence this far. It is also the most difficult task we have performed. It requires the knowledge of a mate, the reaction time of a rescue diver, the patience of a teacher, and the strength of a boxer. This challenge will bring the most out of us and inevitably take us to our limit for the last time.


A lot of things can be stressful when you’re sailing. Learning the ropes, getting aloft cleared, or navigating. They all put you on edge. But nothing is quite as challenging as JWO. Being junior watch officer really makes your hair stand on end. You have to control the vessel, tell everyone what to do, and make sure not to run aground. You have to tack the ship, should you need to, and you are responsible for everyone’s safety. The final decision now lies on you if Cap isn’t on deck. You also report directly to the Captain about the vessels surrounding us and all the potential hazards. Talk about nerve-wracking.


Here we are again, in the same hectic conditions of our first passage, yet this time no one is crying, no one is scared. Everyone here has grown immensely, ready to go back and face the real world. That’s what three and a half months does for you.


JWO or junior watch officer is exciting. The crew are still there but you control the ship, the crew only says something if you are going to put the ship in danger. I was the JWO on the twelve to four am watch beating up Buzzard’s Bay with confusing lights all around. At night it is extremely cold and things are a bit confusing so I was a little freaked, but having the boat under my command gave me a huge power trip. I can’t wait to be JWO again.


Tack from left to right, port to starboard. I’m tired; I’m cold, and soaking wet in my last set of dry clothes – so I’ll wear them to sleep in hopes that they’ll dry. Pumps to be manned, dishes to be done, the deck to be washed with simply not enough hands to do all in the time given. We tack again; I’m on the low side taking a strain on the line each time the boat rolls. I do my best to grip and not give any line back, but it’s wet, my hands are numb. Before I know it the line is flogging my palms but I hold on as the waves come over the side.


The bright yellow color of my west marine fowl weather gear is becoming slighted faded and blemished after the wear and tear of East Coast weather. No longer do I look like something that fell out of the pages of the company catalogue, but more like I actually know my way around the boat, with grease stains and anchor rust to prove it.

Joshua Slocum (pen name)

A few days ago, I was out in the headrig attaching the outer jib to the bowsprit with gaskets, when all of a sudden, we passed over the crest of a huge wave and fell into the trough of the wave, thoroughly soaking the bowsprit. It was very fun to be out on the bowsprit when it was going under.


Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I will wake up to commands being called out on the foredeck.

“Ready forward!” (right above my head).

“Helms alee!”(very faint).

“Helms alee!”.

I can hear the sails beginning to luff, the inner jib snapping around, “bang-bang-bang-bang.”

“Let fly the jib.”

More banging. The boat is standing up more now, heeling less, and the staysail sheet block is sliding back and forth on the traveler.

“Pass the jib.”

The inner jib is scraping against the headstay and now people are grunting on the sheet.

“Pass the stays’l!”

“Stays’l club coming across!”

The boat is shifting now, heeling over on the new tack. I fall over in my rack and fall back asleep.


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