By Olivia Glaser, Williams-Mystic S’18 and Skidmore College ’20
Note: This post is an excerpt from Olivia’s reflections on her offshore experience. Check out the full post (and other posts on her Williams-Mystic experience!) on the blog she’s keeping for the semester, OG at Sea: https://academics.skidmore.edu/blogs/oglaser/
Hello! I am back from the Offshore Field Seminar. We circumnavigated the island of Puerto Rico in 10 days, and it was a crazy, exciting, sometimes scary, and all around unforgettable experience. The director of the program, Tom Van Winkle, provided us each with notebooks in which he wrote us a personalized message of how to make the most out of our semesters here. We were encouraged to write in our notebooks whenever we could during the field seminar, and I tried my best to write as much as possible. I have transcribed the majority of my notes into this post, adding editor’s notes along the way.
0510 – At the Hartford Airport, with Cheez-It’s. Rachel’s biggest worry: “That everyone makes it out alive.”
My professor, Rachel, is a self-proclaimed Jewish mother, and we are her children.
1107 – On the bus from the airport in Puerto Rico. The music on this bus is SO GOOD.
1213 – Made it aboard the SSV Cramer after a short bus ride from the airport. All of the palm trees I saw still had their tops but there were definitely signs of the hurricane, such as ripped balcony awnings, partially destroyed buildings, and a billboard and post that was completely on its side. We’ve just got our bunks and unpacked and are now waiting to continue on with orientations from the crew and captain.
Technically, we were the crew on Cramer. It is actually illegal for the ship to have passengers, so everyone on board must act as a crew member.
1821 – Had a brief introduction to the crew and then lunch. We split up into watch groups for more specific orientation. I’m in group B and our second mate is Rocky and our assistant scientist is Janet. We learned how to do a boat check on deck, in the galley, and in the engine room. The engine room was so cramped and hot! I was so tired that I was standing up in the lab swaying with my eyes closed. I am just trying to stay as hydrated as I can. It’s Sunday, but we aren’t leaving port until tomorrow evening, where we’ll anchor somewhere not too far out. There’s almost 30-knot winds out there, so it’s better for everyone to stay in the harbor. That’s surely where and when the seasickness will begin. Although I’ve been fine at the dock, just tired. It’s good we’re also getting full night’s sleep today and at least tomorrow.
Here is a breakdown of how the watch schedule actually works:
- 0700-1300 — A WATCH
- 1300-1900 — B WATCH
- 1900-2300 — C WATCH
- 2300-0300 — A WATCH
- 0300-0700 — B WATCH
- 0700-1300 — C WATCH
- 1300-1900 — A WATCH
- 1900-2300 — B WATCH
- 2300-0300 — C WATCH
- 0300-0700 — A WATCH
- 0700-1300 — B WATCH
- 1300-1900 — C WATCH
- 1900-2300 — A WATCH
- 2300-0300 — B WATCH
2012 – I am in bed ready to go to sleep. We had really good pizza for dinner and then my watch was on dishes. It was fun but I almost fell from the crate I was standing on twice. We will get woken up at some time during the night for our watch. It’s weird to have to wake up someone who is basically a stranger.
After many days of watch, it is not weird to get woken up by someone, and my classmates are definitely not strangers anymore. In fact, it was kind of exciting to pull back the bunk curtain and see who was behind it, whispering my name. Also, steward appreciation note: the two stewards on our trip were ACTUAL WIZARDS and cooked some of the most delicious food I’ve had in a long time. A lot of my journal entries are food oriented; we basically ate six meals a day, and it is so wonderful to find rice crispy treats waiting for you when you wake up for 0300 watch.
Some final observations and reflections:
- Seasickness goes away after a while! It does get better!
- Putting 20 college students on a boat is truly a great way to bond. Also, part of me feels that bonding is overrated, since we have the entire semester to get to know one another, and this trip was a great way to jump start that process.
- I often forget that I love science and doing science on a boat was even more fun that I expected.
- People that work on boats are SO COOL and I want to be like all of them when I grow up.
- I have a feeling this semester is going to challenge me in very unexpected ways, and this trip was a good reminder that challenges come in all shapes and sizes, and the good thing about being a part of a supportive and collaborative community is that people are willing to help whenever help is needed.
To read more about Olivia’s experience, visit https://academics.skidmore.edu/blogs/oglaser/