Friday, January 28, 2005

Maria's catch-up #2

Well, I return yet again with another catch-up post. I felt like I should write down some kind of reflection on my experience as a mini-mate.

Being a mini-mate meant that we each played the role of mate for the entire watch. I was pretty anxious before my turn came up, and I anticipated a rather stressful four hours. One of the biggest reasons I felt so nervous was that I had to be mate from 8am to noon, and I am most emphatically not a morning person, as many people found out over the course of the trip. Every morning when someone, usually Jaime, came to wake us up, I would let out a sort of creaking groan to make them aware of my consciousness. Little did anyone know that my creaking was a vast improvement from the growl that I generally use at home. Once I have succeeded in getting out of bed, I generally do not like to acknowledge any other living objects for some time. It's not that I'm grumpy, I'm just laconic. However, all leisurely thawing of my people skills was out of the question as long as I was mini-mating. I had to be with on the ball right away. Even before I had finished my coffee.

I think it must have been for people to see me trying to make sense of the chart and plotting the course at 8am. Another hurtle to jump was the process of wearing ship. Wearing ship is a sailing evolution used to turn the boat 180 degrees by putting the stern up into the wind. The Captain made it a requirement that each student had to wear ship while they were mate. Caleb, the mate for my watch, went over the process with me again and again before I had to shout the orders, but even with that preparation I managed to mess up. Everything was so different in practice than it was in theory. However, on the whole I feel like it was a good experience. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and I found that I could still do ok outside of it. Things didn't go too smoothly, but I didn't break anything so I say it counts as victory.

Later, I got the chance to mini-mate from 8-12 at night and that was much better. Not only was I more alert, but at that point in the trip we were motoring, so there was less to keep tabs on. It was interesting to see the difference in work load between the mated and-deck hands. I don't think it's really fair to say that the mates have the easier job even though they do less physical work. The mates have a more stressful job because they are responsible for quite a bit. They need to navigate, make sure everything is getting done that needs to be done, and are responsible for anything that goes wrong during their watch. Through my mini-mate experience, I gained an appreciation for all that the mates do and an even greater appreciation for the lack of stress that comes with being a deck-hand.
posted by Maria