The First First Watch

…the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn…

It was another day that expectedly brought another sunset. In fact, as of this third day of September, 2021, I had lived through 17,625 sunsets. Yet this would still be my first–my first sunset like this.

Like any good ocean sunset experience, this one included good food & drink, accompanied by great friends immersed in conversation that continued long past the sun’s disappearance behind the infinitely distant horizon. But when the food was finished and the glasses emptied, we didn’t pack up dirty dishes, fold the chairs, & say our goodbyes while walking along the beach back to the car. No, friends, not this time.

That evening we would continue south into the Gulf of Maine, sailing into and through the night. I was not only on First Watch, but it was my FIRST watch. As I sat among friends bobbling empty plates and finishing their drinks, my thoughts drifted. When joining this 730 nautical mile trip, I certainly knew we would be spending several nights offshore, but this was the first moment I not only knew it, but also FELT it. I felt a pairing of curiosity and excitement, all swimming in bucket of uncertainty, garnished with a dash of fear. This was it! One doesn’t just say, “G’night guys!” and head back home.

Then, just as the thought of sailing into the dark night begins to sit comfortably with me, like a sudden arhythmic ocean wave itself, I am reminded that not only am I responsible for keeping this ship in one piece while everyone sleeps, I am also wholly responsible for the well-being of those sleeping beauties themselves.

Ack! I have never felt so alive and present in my life.

While each of the crew and finally the captain disappeared down the companionway steps to their slumber, I queued track 27 of the Game of Thrones soundtrack in my head. Thank you for the lullaby that kept me awake, Ramin Djawadi!

I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the….deck.

September 3, 2021 | 19:02:19

Position: 43.380829° N 69.520141° W
Elevation: 13.12 ft.
Speed: 4.32 kts

In the Gulf of Maine, sailing into the night of my first First Watch here.