"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

Squall Thoughts

>> Wednesday, November 14, 2012

No matter how we try to avoid them, storms and squalls are as common an occurance at sea as on land. Unlike on land, however, we are unable to simply tuck ourselves away from the weather. During our passage from Jacksonville, Florida to Vieques, Puerto Rico, we encountered several squalls. Here are two student's reflections on squalls at sea:

“Wake up! Wake up!” Says a fellow student, “there’s a squall coming, you’re going to want your foulies.”
I rub the sleep out of my eyes as best I can and start to don my orange foulies, struggling to make room for both myself and my bunkmate on the sole.

I head up the ladder to deck and almost immediately I see lightning. I look forward and see that the on watch has already struck the two jibs. “Good” I think to myself, ”those can be a pain to take down in these winds.”
I then take a seat and wait for the storm to hit. I can see the rain approaching in the moonlight and I brace myself for it. Finally it comes upon us and it hits with force. Almost immediately my shows are soaked and the rain is stinging my exposed face. I see the ten foot seas only in blinding flashes of lightning strikes.

The command is give, “Hands to strike the staysail!” I rush forward. We ready the lines and I find myself at the downhaul. Now it is time to fight these forty knot winds and bring the sail in. As my hands grab on “Wand I haul like my life depends on it, I think to myself what fun this is. I am sailing through a squall in high seas when I could be at my home, fast asleep.” The thought makes me laugh out loud.
This is what I came on Ocean Classroom for; to test my limits physically and mentally and then to have myself overcome those limits. If I can fight a sail down during a squall, then I doubt there is a whole lot more of a challenge I will come by. This is why I grin and laugh as I pass through the storm, because I am able to meet and overcome a huge challenge that has presented itself to me.


For the most part, the weather we have had has been steady and calm while out at sea, but every once in a while there are rumors of a squall approaching on the radar. As this is passed around on the deck, everyone is a little more on their toes than usual. There is almost an eerie sense about the ship as clouds darker than the night skies begin to roll in. The tension is high as everyone prepares for the command to take in the headsails.
We have now come to the point where it is simply mechanical to strike sails when needed. Once everything is in order, it becomes a waiting game. Everyone stands aft of the break in the deck and watches the power of the seas.
As soon as there is the slightest pause in the storm, we are back in action; cleaning up, recoiling lines, and tending sails as necessary. This process can happen a few times before a squall is fully past.

Storms like this always bring out the best in people. No matter who is doing what, we always trust that person and trust ourselves with our own tasks. Through these squalls, we shipmates have built faith in one another and in ourselves.



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