Right out of the Chatham Islands, we hit a lot of big waves. We’ve quickly had to learn how to wedge ourselves into our bunks so that we don’t fall out, and have not quite mastered how to move around without ricocheting off of walls, tables, or our shipmates. At night, we’ve learned to fall asleep with considerably more than a gentle rocking of the ocean – more like a bouncing that lifts our whole bodies off of the bed every few seconds. On deck, especially in rainy and slippery conditions, people are slip’n’sliding about, bowling down the deck to leeward, sweeping up their neighbors as they make their rapid journey to the other side of the boat. Down below, each roll is accompanied by clatters and clangs as everything in the galley shifts two inches. Although everything is secured away, it is alarmingly noisy as the entire galley reorganizes itself.
As for dining, our gimbaled tables are a miracle of modern science. The tables sit on a pivot with large counterweights underneath them, so they swing in time with the ship and keep food stationary. It’s a huge relief to be able to set something down and walk away from it without worrying about it becoming a projectile. The gimbaled tables, however, do not come without their risks. If the ship rolls too far, the table will run into the thighs of the people sitting at it, which stops its rotation and effectively launches food off the high side, into the faces of the terrified people seated across from you.
Along with big waves comes, you guessed it, seasickness. Although I never threw up, seasickness was still a struggle for me, and really changed my outlook on the trip. It was hard to stay positive when I was feeling so bad all the time. It was this phase of the trip where I really began to miss land. Not only did I miss the stability of land, but I missed the escape it provided. I missed being able to walk away from things and get away from people. I missed grass, dirt, and trees. I missed space. But as with any trip, it was the lowest moments that defined the high ones. I didn’t know it at that time, but once I got over this low, the trip would become one of the most memorable experiences of my life. There were small things that made it worth it, like the stars or a full moon. The sunrise after dawn watch, or the privilege of not showering for days. These things slowly built up so that once my seasickness subsided, I was stoked on life and loving sailing for the remainder of the trip.