My Hatch and 15 Other Things That Can Hurt You on a Schooner, an Autobiography

Like most of the sailors and science crew, I’m currently covered in bruises and cuts and abrasions. A sail boat is a veritable ER doctor’s dream because literally almost everything on it can hurt you due to the fact that the floor is moving and there is lots of stuff everywhere to fall and slip onto, whack your noggin on, crunch your fingers and toes in, and basically disfigure you continuously. So here is a little summary of the most notable injuries I or others have sustained since I’ve arrived.

1. The Hatch

This mini door that allows fresh air to be exchanged with stank in my room is the bane of my current existence. It hangs down from the middle of my ceiling in my cabin, which is often where my head is also located. I’ve stopped counting now the number of times I’ve hurt myself on this jerk, but I’ve hit basically every part of my head on this thing, the front, back, sides, and even poked my eye on it. F-bombs galore.

2. Doorways

I’m lucky enough that with my height this is less of a problem for me, but every day I see someone whack the front or back of their heads on these. I am more prone to hitting my arms on the sides when a big wave hits.

3. Steps

Toes and feet beware, as there are many of these to stub yourself on. Some are wood and some are metal, but all hurt.

4. Dishes

When this boat is a rocking those dishes and knives can go flying. The trick during meals is to gauge the period and height of those waves and get your mitts ready to grab whatever flies off the table. Yesterday in the middle of the night I got so sick of listening to the dishes smash into the side of their storage space I got up and stuffed the dish towels around them. Surprised this wasn’t standard operating procedure before, although it seems to have been adopted now.

5. The Deck

Actually this was my first introduction to the pain inflicted by the boat. On my first night watch I tripped on a line (see #11) while checking out a strange noise in the dark and wham….the whole left side of my body was strongly caressing the deck of the boat.  Ow.  But I somehow managed to not hit any of the random metal things on the deck so I think that’s a win-win. Plus it was a good lesson to learn….always be aware of what’s near your feet.

6. Scuba Tanks

These are some of the more scary items on a moving vessel. 20-30 pounds of steel that contain pressurize air waiting to come out. In tall cylinder form, these tanks are not stable and warrant severe caution while managing them. The tank holder set up they have here works on three tanks at a time so if you release one you release them all. That means your toes and feet could get crushed if you don’t mind the other two while working on yours.  

7. Other People

Throwing your fellow sailors and colleagues under the bus is looked down on in any good crew, but seriously we all seem to find ourselves hitting or hurting each other, physically and emotionally. For example, Marion is cutting onions at this moment and I can’t see anything as a result. But on the super small dinghy, this is especially rampant. I must have clocked or gotten clocked by someone putting on their gear like 3 times already. I had someone put a tank on my foot, and I managed to elbow Chris in the face.Sorry dude. Also since my French is so bad this is where I tend to get teased. During our dive at the super big swell site, I was on watch for the other divers. Two Taranauts, Nico and Monche were waiting with me when I said “Over there guys.” In a not-so-flattering and highly nasal voice (Do I really sound like that?), both French dudes immediately said “Over thereeeeee guyssss!” and then giggled. Hmmm. Interesting. It’s the fact that they both did it simultaneously that suggested to me that this reply was practiced behind my back late in the night when I was asleep. But it’s all in good fun and I’m thick skinned. Next time I will make it even more annoying and high pitch to add to the fun.     

8. A Random Box on the Floor

While labelling the other day, (see last blog) I managed to destroy my shin on a plastic box filled with samples. I then realized that the stupid person who put that box right where my leg goes, was my very own self. Nice.   

9. The Bathroom Door

Really the bathroom doors should count as two because you can get hurt on both sides, where it latches and where the hinge is. The doors are always kept closed for a reason but if you are unfortunate enough to try to get in one of these small coffin-sized potty rooms and a big wave hits, you better hope your finger isn’t in the hinge (did this yesterday) or on the latch.

10. The boom

It’s called this for a reason. Keep your head away from it.

11. The lines/ropes

While lines (sailors’ term for ropes) will trip you up easily (see ‘the deck’) they can also do all sorts of other horrible things to your body.  They can give you a burn and tear small parts off of your body, as Chris and his toe nail found out a few days ago. Chris was moving his scuba tank to secure it when he managed to clip a rope on the deck and bent that sucker right back and then off. Cue cuss words and squeals about the blood. Definitely the biggest ouch since we got here.

12. The boat as a whole

As I mentioned, she rocks, she rolls and she shudders, especially when in big seas. Yesterday in our 15 foot waves and 35 knot winds she rocked, rolled, and shudder half the science team into their beds. Barf city. I was all good all day until the chef served a delicious pasta with blue cheese sauce that sent me on the vomit comet. No one wants to spew blue cheese, believe me.

Panoramas don't work too well when the ship's rocking like crazy...

Panoramas don’t work too well when the ship’s rocking like crazy…

13. A sponge

This one was unexpected, but Guillaume my cleaning partner managed to throw a soapy sponge straight into my face while attempting to toss it to Monche during cleaning time. Soap + eye = sad Becky, but hysterically laughing French sailors (see #7).

14. Your laptop

Besides the induction of seasickness while reading and writing on this, I managed to somehow pinch my leg skin in between the screen and back of the computer while writing on my lap. What is my deal, really?  

15. A pineapple

Before we left for Ducie island, Marion our chef had to go shopping on Easter Island for enough supplies to feed 16 people three 3-course French meals for 20 days. That is a lot of food. So I offered to help put the food away. I hauled, packed, and lifted hundreds of pounds of food across the ship. Mostly I managed, but I did end up damaging one orange, crushed one box on a door way, and slit my right wrist. The culprit of the cut wrist was a freaking stray pineapple. In revenge, Marion immediately cut the bastard up into pieces for fruit salad. But there remains one loose pineapple. I got my eyes on you, Pineapple. Come any closer and it’s piña colada time.

Still having good time, though!

Still having good time, though!

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