Friday, January 14, 2005

Elettra: Monday

Currently 1835
At 1626, 24º26.5’N 82º33.2’W
Dry Tortugas- Florida Keys

The waters are rough and all is creaking.

Earlier today, the foretopmast stay of the sail parted and the sail flapped in the wind- only partially, but it was going wild and part of it even fell in the water. Captain Robin, Andy, the first mate, and Matt, the third mate, were trying to fix it along with about five other crew members. It was quite a commotion.

Half of our group has been lying down near the helm for most of the day (since we left Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas) and some have already thrown up. Andy says after an hour or so you should get used to the rocky waters, and just in case, he has Ginger Ale. Prof. Pyle brought Ginger Squares. So it appears we should all be okay, but most still have pallid faces and are spacing out into the horizon, hoping to feel better soon.

The crew advise not to take any sea sickness pills because they will only do worse (as they keep all the vomit inside you) and in any case, most of them are sailors who have lived through even worse conditions.

This morning we pushed the line around the capstan in order to raise the anchor. That took about all morning and it would’ve been torturous if it hadn’t been voluntary, if the breeze were not present and if I were a slave. But of course it felt fun because there was singing and joking. We even played ‘I spy with my little eye...’

The watch hours have switched and I should be sleeping by now because I have to wake up at 2320.

Yesterday we went to Fort Jefferson. It was majestic and charged with a painful memory of soldiers who lived there, wearing wool suits in tropical weather. After walking around the Fort, we hung out by the beach. The highlight was the snorkeling in the reefs, where we even saw a barracuda. Everyone is scared of barracudas. Brian, a crew member, remembers a crazy friend of his jumped on one, had to have five surgeries on his hands and he’s still missing some fingers. Their teeth are extremely sharp and they won’t be able to tell the difference between your hand and the fish you are feeding it.

None of this ferocity could be noticed. They just swam away when we followed them.

Like the barracuda, there were many other bright-colored fish swimming alone or in schools. I was a Mermaid, fins and long hair, twirling around my bubbles. The fish stared back at me, some with curiosity and others with a menacing round-eyed look. But most just shone back at me with luminous tropical colors of electric blue, lemon yellow and lilac purple.

On the way back to the ship, Andy explained how he often goes to the shrimp or other fish boats anchored near the bay and offers good beer or rum in exchange for fresh fish. He had none this time, so we ate no fresh fish.

At night we went with the ‘tender’ (‘tender’ because it tends to the boat) back to the Fort for a special candlelit tour.

Nicole and I have been seriously considering returning after graduation and sailing with the Bounty for a while. If I get a job and it permits me to start in January 2006 I will do so. Captain Robin requires a six weeks notice and a six-month commitment.
posted by Elettra