22 Nov Chafing minds
22 November 2013
“Life on board is biased to the male side, from the total of 29 there are 4 women. The atmosphere is good and the influence of the male/female ratio is not really noticeable. Research (I will come back to that later) shall tell what the influence has been to our mind.
Everyone has gotten used to the movement of the ship, she is rolling heavily at times and we are moving carefully on deck and below in the saloon and our cabins. We have the endless ocean and the endless regularity of eating, sleeping and watchkeeping. But now change is going to come! The composition of the watches is going to change tomorrow. Familiar faces will not be there anymore, new faces will replace them. A bit of security is falling away, the new colleagues eagerly awaited.
And here I am behind the wheel of this beautiful schooner ‘Oosterschelde’, thinking of my father who as a child would look at the moored schooners of distant relatives in the harbour of Delfzijl, dreaming of long voyages. And here I am at the wheel, while the ‘Oosterschelde’ ploughs through the water of the South Pacific on a broad reach. This course suits her best. Straight as she goes, dad…
After every watch we count the miles: 12, 20, 30, 36; records are broken and everytime we get a bit further, closer to the Cape. Conversations continue, about nautical miles, date lines, time zones, degrees longitude and latitude. And of course about chafing, chafing gear, preventers, about sailing, politics, everything. Tall stories are told, I listen and tell mine. Diary entries are getting shorter, days longer.
The last couple of days visibility has been bad. It was cold and there were endless conversations in the wheelhouse. It is hard to imagine we were swimming in this ocean, not so long ago. Some of us want more wind and more racket, I don’t feel that need and I have the impression neither does the crew. We try to stay out of the path of strong depressions with high waves by changing course a bit. We will get some of the weather, we will see how it goes, we are prepared.
Amongst the trainees there are two researchers who use this special trip with its special population to their advantage. As I mentioned before mostly male and you can say matured with time and money at their disposal.
Now and again we are subject to questionnaires, interviews, mindmaps and one-minute-portraits. Probably to document changes in our minds that occur during this long trip. It is not wearing out yet, but if it does we will just put some chafing gear on our mind map.
Thinking of you…”