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Nuku Hiva – Part 2

By Chelsea McBroom

February 25th, 2014

My 2am night watch aboard the Picton Castle went by quickly. Maria woke me up ten minutes before, telling me I might need a jacket, and I met her on the quarter deck in my pajamas, foulies in hand when I was ready. The stars and nearly full moon were bright, but clouds were crossing. She was just coming out of the charthouse having finished her hourly log in the logbook – writing wind direction and location should the weather change or the anchor drag. Three bearings were written down which Maria explained to me as we looked at the lit compass, holding her arm out at SSE and NE by W etc. to each colored or flashing light. If the bearings were off, we would know the ship had moved, especially after checking the GPS in the charthouse. Maria noted which direction bad weather would be coming in and then went off to do a ship check.

She returned about ten minutes later saying all was well and goodnight. It didn’t take long for the rain to come. Throwing on my jacket and lifting my hood, I walked around the deck checking lines to make sure there was a bit of slack in each, should they get very wet. I closed the hatches that looked down into the salon and the forepeak. Those who had attempted sleeping on the hatch under the windblown awning had made their escape to their bunks, deciding sleeping in the heat was better than sleeping in the rain. I spent the rest of the hour looking up at the sky and the lights on the shore, daydreaming (or ‘nightdreaming’?) and keeping alert my senses for anything – a change in wind direction or the smell of fire – looking my watch every so often to make sure I didn’t wake Simon late.

I checked the scuttle bunk map to make sure I knew where he was sleeping and made my way through the well deck and down the brocave hatch, feeling my way in the dark so I didn’t blind anyone with the torch and whispered his name. He responded immediately, thanking me for the wakeup and the details of rain. When he met me on the quarter deck in a pair of shorts (the rain had, of course, passed) I gave him the spiel and left to do a ship check – making sure to look at our skiff and dory ‘SeaNeverDry’ that were lowered and kept alongside. My worst fear when doing a ship check is that I would miss something detrimental – the freezers could stop working and our food would go bad, our storage of fresh water could leak, the linseed oil covered rags could combust, the gas for the galley stove may still be on, forgotten. But, the ship check put me at ease and I happily returned to my bunk after saying goodnight to Simon, leaving any worries and the ship in the next person’s hands.

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