Thursday, April 10, 2008

Homeward Bound

A lot of people have expressed interest in my job, so I thought I would share in a little more detail what it is that I do. First, though a couple photos.

We took a trip of the most amazing high schoolers to the Bahamas and saw all sorts of great things including large piles of conch that made me want to wear pink and think pink and be pink all day long. This may be influenced by the fact that I recently finished 'Skinny Legs and All' by Tom Robbins - an excellent read I would recommend to anyone.

I finished my father's Christmas socks, making the close of the Christmas knitting official. These are the Mock Wave Socks from Favorite Socks. I knit them on size 1 needles with Trekking Pro Natura yarn. More details can be found on ravelry or by request as I am a little tired and honestly can't be bothered to look them all up.

Onto my job and what it is that I do. Basically I am a deckhand on tallships (traditionally rigged vessels). This amounts to taking part in the every day running of the vessel as well as doing what other people tell me to do. On my current boat, the S/V Denis Sullivan, we took out programs with adults and high schoolers in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas until late March. Then we started the transit north. The boat's home port is in Milwaukee, WI but since the sailing in the Great Lakes is non-existent in the winter the boat goes south with the birds. Our stops have included Fort Pierce, FL; Brunswick, GA; Beaufort, NC; and Baltimore, MD where I am now. Before we reach Milwaukee we will be stopping in Woods Hole, MA; Lunenburg, Nova Scotia; Quebec City, Quebec; Port Huron, I don't know which state; and probably somewhere else in the Lakes. We'll stop generally for around three days in each port depending on weather and a number of other variables. So that's the schedule.

The really great part of my job is getting the boat from place to place. This is generally known as 'transiting.' While underway we break into watches, essentially shifts. There are three watches made up of at least three people each. The watch schedule is as follows:
Each watch, or group of three people works one watch period then has two off. So you basically work 9 hours a day or so, the 9 hours are just spread around you get a 10 hour lunch in between.

While on watch we take turns to steer, do lookout, and every hour we do a boat check. Boat checks include a physical check of all compartments in the boat as well as weather observations and plotting our position on the chart (nautical map).

Off watch time is your's to do with what you will. For the most part people sleep, but you hit a point where you can't sleep any more. This is when computers come out to watch movies on, or a lot of reading occurs. I often sit in my bunk and listen to books on tape and knit. Sometimes if the seas aren't to rough and the sun is out I'll take my chair on deck for a little knitting.

Meals occur between watches and are prepared by the cook (!) who doesn't stand watch. The oncoming watch eats a little before their turn on deck and the offgoing and standby watches eat after that. This way everyone gets to sit and eat a leisurely meal and the navigation and safety of the boat isn't neglected.

Sometimes it is necessary to go aloft to do some work or sort something out. I love working aloft and take every opportunity to go, as it affords a much better view than on deck. Here I am sporting my new t-shirt my mother bought me. I do love the color orange.

That was a brief overview of what I do, but hopefully it answered some questions. If anyone wants to know more please ask. I love to my job and I love to talk about what I do and if you're lucky I won't be as tired when I reply and will do so with more eloquence.


Mokihana said...

I LOVED reading about your life on the ship... loved the photo of you aloft as well.

Sailing is in my blood, and you're doing for real what I can only do in my imagination. I'm so glad I found your blog!

Wanna said...

Loved hearing about your job. WAY more exciting than my job as a Human Resources person. I can only imagine the amazing things you get to see! Thank you for sharing!