Thursday, June 1, 2017

Time at Sea

I look at the watch on my wrist to learn that today is Thursday. I would have no idea otherwise. In the middle of the South Pacific, hundreds of miles away from the nearest inhabited island, the days of the week hold no meaning.

Time moves differently on the ship. We operate in 18-hour square peg rotations awkwardly fit into 24-hour round hole days. Sleep is no longer a nightly activity cued by dusk but rather by the satisfying drop of the harness at the end of a watch shift, or rushed between meals and snacks. At certain moments the seconds trickle slow - staring at the stars while at the helm at 0300, staring at elaborate tubes of water waiting for nitrate samples to filter, standing at the bow scanning the vast horizon for potential threats in the clouds. Other moments slip time by in a gust - the frenzy of striking sails and closing the hatches at the sight of an approaching squall, the thrill of spotting land for the first time in days and being graced by a green deviation to our deep blue expanses, sighting a pair of whales surfing the waves alongside our ship well into the day until sunset.

Although we are only approaching about three weeks aboard the Robert C.

Seamans, it's difficult to remember life before the ship. Each three-day cycle of the watch schedule feels like a full week in and of itself, with the closest notions of weekends being the sparse days we spend anchored or at port. The beat of the ship has skewed our sense of the flow of time. As the days have passed, her syncopated rhythm has become our new norm.

-Jonathan Fisk

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