One Water Blog July 3, 2013

Crew on Board: Margaret Pietrak, Asta Mail, Mitch McLean, Kate Gardella, Eric Loss, Shanley McEntee

Today’s blog by Margaret Pietrak

Today has been quite a shift. All of a sudden it seems the ocean has calmed and quieted. That is wonderful for my tummy, but not for sailing. I came to this experience with a little sailing experience on ponds of Maine and was a little wary of heeling. I soon gained confidence with the spectacular abilities of the Sea Dragon and the crew on board. Now, while on watch this morning and last night with glassy rolls of the ocean lapping at the boat, I found myself missing the 6-10 foot swells and heeling that pinned me to the wall of my bunk earlier in the sail.

In the calm my mind began to focus on the present: the sounds of the water flowing by the boat, the sparkles of bioluminescence in our wake and the shearwaters cruising the wave crests. It also made me think of the sailing experience and something Eric (captain and watch buddy) said. It’s all about the water and the boat and you. There is such a direct relationship, and a  need for respect. It’s also a chance to let the minor “conveniences” go and take a turn at being in the moment. It’s a state of mind I try to achieve and realize it is ridiculously difficult at times. Though here on the Sea Dragon I’ve noticed stresses have melted and muscles relaxed (unless I’m hauling the halyard or grinding a sheet!).

It’s an exciting day, even though we haven’t had our sails up much and are motoring. We’ve had some great looks at gannets and are starting to see cormorants as we cruise into the Straight of Canso between Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. We’ve been welcomed by picturesque lighthouses on Cape Breton’s shores and have played some music from Cape Breton in tribute. Huge, graceful wind turbines are standing tall on the wooded hills. One noticeable difference is insects as we are getting closer to shore. A couple of flies and gnats have made their presence known.

The sun has made its appearance – first time while we’ve been sailing! The 3 layers of base, fleece and gortex have been shed and replaced with sunscreen and t-shirts. The warmth is so unusual and so welcome! Soaked gloves and socks are hanging to dry and freshen up on the line behind the helm.

Since the calmer seas, the crew has been able to hang out together a bit more. Everyone has quit the immediate-crash-in-the-bunk-after-watch routine and instead are joining each other on deck. Asta and Kate even did a little workout on deck. You’d be surprised how your body adapts to being on board. Abs I’d not used made it known they existed while my hamstrings are getting tighter and tighter. Eric and Shanley have been busy with projects on the boat. Master chef for the evening, Mitch, has been prepping our dinner for tonight.

Asta and I have also been able to talk about activities, water quality and ways to incorporate monitoring into a school setting so that water science and it’s connection to our world can be an integral part of science teachings. I work with my students investigating the Pacific and Atlantic gyres and can’t wait to share this experience to bring oceans a little closer to home!