"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

Ship's Medic

>> Friday, November 4, 2011

Hello there, readers of this adventurous blog. I am Angela, a deckhand and the ship’s medical officer. I am going to write with reckless abandon. Here we go.

First of, dear friends and family of the souls on board this vessel, everyone is healthy and safe. However, as we pass into a new environment, our bodies are collectively adjusting to these southern latitudes. As we are exposed to tropic heat and the new microbiology of the area, intestines and sweat glands have shifted into overdrive. Slightly uncomfortable, but nothing a little time, rest, Gatorade and Gold Bond cannot fix.

You can taste the salty humidity of the Caribbean in every corner of the boat, in every crevice of our bodies. It has seeped in and taken over. Our sweaters are stowed in most unreachable parts of our bunks. Even the mention of the word “wool” makes me sweaty and comfortable.

In New England the trees have shaken their final leaves and pumpkins smile and glow, we are in the lush tropics where plants come in waxy, thick and green. The flora dazzles the eye with vivid colors, but the plant life lacks the delicacy found in the seasonal climates up north. You must be strong and covered in protective coating to survive.

And while I have been taking notes on a colorful display of heat rash and “traveller’s trot,” there is another change I have observed here on the Harvey Gamage.

The ship’s company is rising to the challenges of J-WO like a bird of paradise reaches for the white heat of the Caribbean sun. I have taken a step back as students have taken several steps forward. I no longer stand watches with students or make sure the dishes are done on time or ensure that the heads smell bleachy clean after soles and bowls. Instead, the students are self-tending (under the watchful eye of their mate.) They sail the ship and manage their watches. And when they tear the sails, the deckhands get out a palm, needle, and sail twine and fix them. I have made some stellar improvements in my stitching abilities in the last few days. I miss standing night watches and stargazing with my everyone, but watching them take on this challenging part of the trip has been well worth every stitch.

I cannot believe that the same students in Mystic who sat at midships struggling through clumbsy square knots are now running watches, calling sail maneuvers, making squall plans and plotting our course. We gave them 93 tons of schooner, and they carry the weight and responsibility with grace and style. Despite the heat rashes, unpleasant trips to the head, and foreboding mountains of homework ahead, these students are performing brilliantly. Everyone at home should be beaming with pride for your sailors out here on Ocean Classroom. This is one of the most warm, caring, and mature groups of students I have worked with.

Go team, go!
-- Angela


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