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Voyages

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

The Robert C. Seamans departed Honolulu on November 15 with students in class S232. They sailed south towards French Polynesia, and concluded their voyage on Dec 23 in Papeete, Tahiti.

Position information is updated on a workday basis only. Audio updates from the ship are reported periodically throughout the voyage.

Dec

22

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Avery and Kara take in the view of Moorea!
  • End-of-cruise: 22 December Anchored off Moorea, perhaps the most picturesque anchorage one can imagine. In fact French Polynesia has honored this island profile by imprinting it on their coins.
  • I am overwhelmed. Where do I begin? How do I explain what a wondrous trip it has been?

    As Academic Coordinator I can state some facts.everyone passed.everyone has learned so much.in fact 17 academic credits worth of learning has happened over the last 3 months! For those at home who helped support this academic adventure it has been $$ well spent. But I assure you the value of this experience for each student is infinitely greater than the $$, school credits, or any other conventional measure deemed important by society. These intangible experiences are personal and consequently diverse in nature. Though specific details vary I assure you each student has had to stand by their decisions and confidently lead their watch, to speak up and have their voice and their ideas heard. Equally important each student has learned to recognize the value of being a supporting member of a team; to follow directions swiftly, with alacrity, and without question. Each student has overcome personal adversity in its myriad forms, learned from it, and is now the wiser, the better for it. Each student has experienced an event they will never forget and has likely experienced something they wish they could forget. Each student has been required, by the needs of the ship and the community, to do something they wish they didn't have to do, but they sucked it up, did it, and lived to tell the tale. And many have lived a dream by having accomplished something they always wanted to do. At some point in the cruise each student experienced fear, sadness, joy, doubt, accomplishment, humility, assuredness, and pride. It has been a rich experience, a time of personal growth that cannot be measured in any conventional, uniform way. Though the details vary, I know that each student returns to shore not as they departed. Perhaps now you can understand why I have a sense of being overwhelmed, tasked as I am to summarize our cruise, S232 - Oceans and Climate from Hawaii to Tahiti.

    Similarly, do not be surprised if your sons and daughters are equally challenged by the task to capture in words what it means to played their part in sailing the RC Seamans over 2000 nm as an integral member of the sailing crew, and as a scientist. Be prepared for the standard answer, "Oh, it was great, we sailed from Hawaii to Tahiti, and we stopped in Kiritimati Island and Bora Bora along the way. It was really cool!" And then there will be a pause while they consider what to say next. Where to begin? How to explain such a completely foreign, entirely personal experience that requires so much familiarity with the customs and language of a sailing/ research ship in the Pacific Ocean? They will feel overwhelmed. Expect to hear quite a bit about the port stops, they are the easiest part of the experience to explain, the stories will sound the most familiar. "I saw this, did that, tried such and such local food." Such stories are easy to relate from personal experience. But realize, the port stops are merely convenient bookends, chronological pegs upon which to hang the cruise in familiar terms. The heart of the voyage, the true story, the adventure, the drama, the tears, the laughter, the triumph all happen in that most mysterious of places, the open ocean.above and below the surface.

    I encourage you to dig deep and look beyond the dust jacket synopsis and laudable reviews. But be patient, slowly the stories will unfold. They may seem strange and hard to follow at first. When they laugh about something you may not get the joke. There may be no sense of chronology to the stories; time can be a tricky thing at sea. With a rotating watch system, hours, days, weeks merge one into the other. Try not to judge the value of the story based on these aesthetic qualities, instead read the passion in their voice as they describe the night they witnessed the lunar eclipse at sea. Instead, watch as a smile forms across their lips when they recount their day successfully cooking for the entire ships company. Look for a proud stance and air of authority as they explain their scientific findings or describe the many marine organisms they learned to identify. (For the latter, I encourage you to ask for a drawing to help illustrate the strange, yet beautiful critters collected nightly in our nets!) Enjoy the quickened pace and hand gestures that will accompany their descriptions of sailing maneuvers and hauling in perfect rhythm on the Main halyard or furling on the bow sprit in heavy seas! In short, do not judge the experience based on the narrative alone, or simply the gigabytes of pictures; the content and language may be too unfamiliar and the account so personal, that it may be challenging for you to contextualize and fully appreciate the story. Instead be moved by the tone, emotion, and expression of your storyteller. Therein lays the true heart, meaning, and value of our adventure on Mother Seamans.

    As I write this post I realize that my earlier use of a book as metaphor to explain our cruise is grossly inadequate. No single book could capture this rich story; instead imagine an entire shelf of first edition masterpieces. Each a story like no other. The captain and I have merely dressed the stage with various sundry accoutrements and necessities (sails, lines, scientific equipment, food, water, fuel, etc).the professional crew, the students have populated the stage, filled the pages of these many stories and given them life, meaning, purpose, direction. I am lucky to have been a bit player in such wonderful stagecraft. My thanks go out to all of my shipmates for a wonderful cruise I shall never forget. And my thanks also to our eager and interested audience back home that has found some manner of entertainment from our adventures. Good night and sweet dreams!

    Cheers Chief Scientist Jeffrey M. Schell

Dec

21

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Ice Cream! Alex, Becca, and Brad enjoy a lunch of ice cream on Bora Bora. 2 liters of Tahitian Vanilla ice cream between 4 people in the parking lot of a French Polynesian convenience store. Perfection.
  • Ship's 1200 position, sail plan, and weather: 17deg10.0'S x 151°34.0'W Sailing on a port tack under the four lowers (shallow-reefed main, manstays'l, forestays'l, jib) and the fisherman and jib tops'l. Hot and sunny (again), force 4 NExE winds, ENE 5 foot seas
  • It seems almost fitting that I find myself sitting in front of the computer, summoning my creative juices to write one last blog as the Seamans sails in sight of Moorea and our last port stop. It seems like just yesterday, I sat down to write our first student blog post out of Hawaii. But this time, I am writing as the new S-232 Alumni class representative. I have been charged with keeping in touch will all students from the class (a tall order, but will force me to actually keep in touch with people!). I think I'm up to the task?!

    I'm sure as many of you know, last night was the lunar eclipse, and what better seats for the sight than in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?! No lights around, no traffic noise, no distractions; just the moon, stars, and sea (and a few clouds…). You couldn't ask for more perfect conditions. The moon was a stunning iron red, highlighted by the brilliant stars, with the sound of the sea in our ears and the sharp cry of sail handling cries as we hove-to for the event (and the science to study diel migration during a lunar phase). We all felt pretty lucky to be in such a prime location for such a rare event.

    We have since transitioned into our last day at sea as we head towards land (and more ship traffic!). The students are still in charge of the ship, and doing a surprisingly good job! We have made it to within 35 nautical miles of Moorea, well ahead of schedule and with plenty of time to sail straight into the harbor tomorrow morning.

    But nothing can sum up the experience more perfectly than the end of class today. Jeff asked us to take a few minutes at the end to close our eyes and listen to the Seamans and the seas around us. Out of this whole trip, I don't think I had taken a single minute to do just that; to listen and feel the sea. For me at least, it made me realize how at home I have come to feel on the Seamans and on the ocean…and how much I'm not ready to go back to land (sorry Mom and Dad; your fears might be confirmed…!).

    However, what was truly the cherry on top, was Capt. Bill announcing 'Land-ho' at the end of our, for lack of a better term, 'reflection period'. We actually made it to French Polynesia!!!! I honestly don't think anybody truly believed we could have made it this far on that first day out of Hawaii. But we will; a little wiser and a lot bit saltier!

    Special Shout-out: Happy (a little belatedly) Birthday Mom!!! Love you and miss you all!

    Alex Hounshell

Dec

20

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Photo caption: Kara Dennis and Erin Zampaglione hi-five aloft from the tops'l yard.
  • Ship's 1200 position, sail plan, and weather: 17°34.5'S x 151°33.9'W Sailing on a port tack under the four lowers (shallow-reefed main, manstays'l, forestays'l, jib) Hot and sunny, force 5 E x S winds, 6 foot seas
  • think all of the students aboard the Robert C. Seamans have realized over the past day how difficult it is to actually con a vessel. During class time this afternoon both the Junior Lab Officers (JLOs) and Junior Watch Officers (JWOs) for the next day regrouped and adjusted our Ship's Mission for arriving in Moorea over the next day. We will still be deploying neuston nets to study the effects of the lunar eclipse on the migration of marine organisms, but we will likely be motor sailing quite a bit over the next day and a half. Outside of the Ship's Mission, all of us seem a lot less stressed since turning in all of our assignments before leaving Bora Bora. Students have actually been sighted playing games and getting some sleep! I think we are all really enjoying the last few days we have on the Robert C. Seamans. We will be having a ship's holiday Wednesday night, where we will be exchanging secret Santa gifts. People have been making some really amazing handicrafts out of odds and ends of sailcloth. It will be great to see the final products of everyone's gifts and enjoy our last night together as shipmates. Shout out: I really miss you, Mom, Dad, Scott, Bruce, and Zorro! I can't wait to see you/talk to you soon! -Marissa Tremblay

Dec

18

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Anchored at Bora Bora
  • Our final research papers are due in 16 minutes and many people are still in a mad frenzy making last minute figure captions and beefing up their discussion sections. Despite the recent flurry of chaos in the past two days with finishing up our research papers, nautical science and engineering reports, we have had some awesome experiences in Bora Bora. We have experienced the peak of stress as well as ultimate relaxation in a very short span of time.

    Bora Bora is a beautiful mountainous island surrounded by blue waters and sand beaches. Karoline, Sascha, Christine, Manique, Lauren, Erin, and I had an awesome adventure in our time onshore. We rented bicycles and biked the circumference of the island. We had a lovely picnic by the beach of fresh fruit, chocolate, cheese, and fresh baguette. We went swimming at beautiful blue-water beaches, and snorkeled around the coral reefs, and admired the vibrant tropical fish. My shipmates had many similar adventures, and some also went climbing and hiking. There was a Christmas festival going on by the pier with dancing, floats, music, and of course delicious food, like steak frite. The food was awesome, which is why I have mentioned it so often. At the festival we joined forces with other crew members, Chelsea, Greg G., Eric, Dylan C., Jonathan, Katy, Greg B., and chief scientist Jeff.

    Throughout the stress and the adventure of the past two days, I have realized what a strong community we have developed aboard mother Seamans. Finishing up our papers, I have realized how much I have learned since this program began only 12 weeks ago, and during our adventures I have come to really enjoy getting to know my shipmates and forming strong friendships. It is strange to comprehend that our voyage is coming to an end. You really get to know people well in this environment, and I am amazed and how these new faces have become familiar friends. Thanks to all the awesome blossoms on this ship.

    Love to my family and friends in Minnesota. I love you and miss you Mom, Dad, Codie, Kyle, Ollie, and Emily! All my Macalester friends, I miss you! Good luck with finals!

    Salty sea kisses - Kara

Dec

19

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Picture Caption: Lima Kayello jumping enthusiastically from the bowsprit during a swim call at our Bora Bora port stop. Matt Pickart emotionally prepares himself for the leap.
  • Manique Talaia-Murray 2006 Position and Weather Observations: 16°48.3' S x 151° 52.1'W Course: 190 psc Speed: 6kt Sailing under the four lowers and the tops'l. Wind at a force four from NExE. Skies clear except for a few cotton candy-esque cumulus clouds.
  • Today was a big day for the salty sailors of the RCS. It's the beginning of what has been called the "Ships Mission." This means that we, the students, are now responsible for getting Mamma Seamans to Moorea on the morning of the 22nd. Each watch has chosen one Junior Watch Officer to con (basically, to direct) the vessel for the time they are on duty. That individual has the same responsibilities as the JWOs during last week's component, but now we receive even less aid from the mates. The only input we get is when there is a safety concern. Needless to say, we are all extremely excited.

    Not only have we become independent on deck, but also we will have even more responsibilities in lab! There is a lunar eclipse tomorrow night and Jeff has charged us with a very serious science question: How will the eclipse influence biological productivity and diel vertical migration in the seas? We get to decide on where and when we are sampling, and work with deckies to make sure we get to our destination in time.

    C watch was the first to take the deck after our departure from Bora Bora and I volunteered to be the first JWO of the ship's mission. It was a little nerve-wracking, but my watch mates are so fantastically competent that I never truly worried! Talk about a power trip- my fellow JWOs and I were able to determine the course for the next few hours, all the while considering the milieu of variables that will influence our passage to Moorea.

    The trip is almost over, so we may as well end on a high note. We are in charge of this boat. Wootwoot.

    Moorea, here we come! 6 days until Christmas/Newton's birthday.

    Much love, Manique the Fearsome Dread Pirate of the Equatorial and Northern South Pacific, Specifically in the Region of French Polynesia

Dec

17

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Picture caption: Can you find all people? Frances, Noah, Kyra, Becca, Ollie, Dylan, JohnnyO, and Flora treating the Seamans like a jungle gym.
  • Temperature- 30.9C Anchored at Bora Bora
  • Today the anxious waiting comes to an end. After sitting at anchor for the past 24 hours, some of us are now allowed to set foot on land. Some have stayed behind to look after Mama Seamans, and of course, finish up the last of our project work. What Jeff says is true. Most of us have been stressing out about our science, navigation, engineering projects, and of course sailing the ship in the correct direction, but then we realize that we are in French Polynesia and our land loving friends are taking finals in cold places. We are constantly reminded to look around and remember where we are, and enjoy this experience now!... instead of looking back and remembering how we stayed below deck, typing away and wishing our graphs showed a better correlation. I think that this has been one of the most important things that the assistant scientists and mates have done for us. But alas, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Those who stayed on the boat got unadulterated work time: no deck work, no sail handling, no deployments, just good old-fashioned work. We all agreed that it felt weird, sitting, listening to music, and being all together in one place at the same time. We could not pinpoint why, and then we realized that the past day has felt like a normal weekend. This got us thinking, what else is going to be strange to us when we get to land? How strange have WE become now that we are accustomed to ship life. In fact, just today we made a shrine and danced to Ice Ice Baby for a fellow shipmates birthday. So here are some suggestions that we have compiled about how to handle your newly salty children/friends/loved ones:

    1. We might not get up unless we get personalized wake-ups that include the time, what the weather is like, what we should wear, and what is for breakfast.

    2. We might become a bit flustered if something occurs in a counter-clockwise fashion.

    3. We might tell you when and where we are going and announce our presence when we return, always in the third person. Ex: "Frances going to the head" and "Frances back from the head."

    4. We will never put our elbows on the table and will get nervous when some else does.

    5. If you are lucky, you will find us at random hours, wearing extremely loud shorts, singing along to bad music and scrubbing the floors with a sponge.

    6. Numbers will be read out one at a time. Ex) "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?" "Two One Six"

    7. We might get the urge to check the entire house for fires and floods on the hour

    8. If something dings, we will check our watch

    9. We will repeat every instruction given like an echo

    10. We will use phrases like, "that's well your insert noun here,"

    "Stand by," "Mark your head," and words like, soles, heads, galley, ladder, bulkheads, Hobart, and reefer.

    Oh yeah, Bora Bora. It is has been amazing, and I have yet to set foot on shore. Rainbows form magically across the mountains and end meters away from the Seamans. The sunsets are something off a postcard, and the mountain is absolutely beautiful at all times of the day. Our fellow classmates are trickling back, telling the tales of their port stop and I cannot wait to get my turn tomorrow. All in all, all is well and days like today make me love to call RCS my home. These are our last 6 days with these people and I cannot think of a better place to be.

    Shoutouts- Yo Naysayers- I got in the water with pictures to prove. Love always, Frances Happy Birthday to Brad's father. Love Always, Frances Sage, see you in New York. Love Always, Frances

Dec

16

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Image attached: 16 Dec Team 'Potatopod' tells an interesting story. (Sascha, Erin and Kristine)
  • By 0900 (local time) we were anchored in the lagoon off Bora Bora, French Polynesia
  • Chief Scientist, Jeff Schell - 0515 AM Can't sleep, too excited, today is THE big day, oceanography project presentations, the culmination of nearly three months hard work that is finally going to pay up in a big way! At times the work may have seemed tedious (datasheets, labeling, significant figures, analysis after analysis, one data point at a time), and there were definitely periods of frustration along the way (my hypothesis is @#%&@), but all have persevered, the end of their quest is in sight, the answers are soon to be revealed. This sums up much of the scientific process. So much work toward a singular goal, to accurately test a hypothesis with the end purpose being to advance our understanding, discover something new, and make a contribution to the growing knowledge of how the world works. This is not the science of the classroom, the textbook, or the lab exercise with rigidly defined steps and established outcomes; there is no guarantee. This is science in the trenches, literally getting your feet wet and hands dirty, struggling with malfunctioning equipment, weather, and data that doesn't follow what the books say! Upon first appearances it seems like a messy disarray of numbers, lines and scribbled notes.but slowly a light is emerging. Slowly the patterns reveal themselves. And out of the apparent chaos comes an explanation that just may tell us something new about the oceans and how they work.

    Up to this point the students have been cloistered away with their specific samples and correlations, but today they share their emerging story with the rest of the class. Today is when they will see connections across disciplines; the links among seemingly disparate data, today is the day of discovery! Today I am the proud parent that gets to sit back, enjoy and be a student again. Today I break out my freshly sharpened pencil, crisp pad of new paper, and learn from my students!

    This however is but my humble perspective. The anxious excitement that is stirring about the ship this morning may have as much if not more to do with the sight of land on the horizon.Bora Bora, often considered the 'most beautiful' island of French Polynesia. Though Bora Bora shares the horizon this morning with clouds and rain, our westerly approach toward the lagoon pass affords a picturesque view of sheer, volcanic peaks silhouetted by the sunrise. A truly spectacular sight captured in words by James Michener in a Return to Paradise -

    'On the horizon there was a speck that became a tall blunt mountain with cliffs dropping sheer into the sea. About the base of the mountain, narrow fingers of land shot out, forming magnificent bays, while about the whole was thrown a coral ring of absolute perfection, dotted with small motus on which palms grew. The lagoon.was a crystal blue, the beaches were dazzling white, and ever on the outer reef the spray leaped mountainously into the air'.

    I suspect you will hear much about Bora Bora in future contributions to this web post, so let's talk more science! Here is a list of oceanography projects and their intrepid authors:

    Patrick Wong - Transport of water and salt in the equatorial undercurrent
    Becca Goldman, Dylan Anderson, Peter Osswald - Water masses, upwelling and warm water volume dynamics and ENSO cycles
    Greg Gotta, Lauren Mitchell - Barrier layers and nutrient patterns
    Karoline Hart, Kara Dennis, Manique Talaia-Murray - Mechanisms of island mass effect around Kiritimati Island
    Alex Hounshell, Bradley Davis - Upwelling and nutrient patterns across tropical instability waves
    Matt Pickart, Flora Weeks, Frances Bothfeld - Spatial and temporal patterns in pCO2 and carbon flux
    Chelsea Bokman, Nick Balfour - Long-term trends in surface chlorophyll-a Marissa Tremblay - Distribution and nutrient requirements of Trichodesmium
    Lima Kayello - Vertical zonation of phytoplankton across the deep chlorophyll maximum layer
    Noah Citron - Doistribution of autotrophic and heterotrophic bacteria across the central Pacific
    Sacha Patel, Erin Zampaglione, Christine Reynolds - Impacts of ocean acidification on pteropod abundance and size
    Annah Gerletti, Ollie Weisser, Kyra Marsigliano - Myctophid distribution and contribution to the biological pump
    Joe Carver - Salp blooms and zoogeography
    Avery Paxton - Salp diel vertical migration patterns and lunar phase

    Sound confusing? Well, for these sailor-scientists this is now part of their daily vernacular. For project details I encourage you to request a firsthand account when your son or daughter returns home; I am certain they will gladly regale you with their discoveries! That's it for now. Until we chat again, enjoy the holiday preparations!

    Cheers jeff

Dec

15

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Picture captions: (1) Marissa Tremblay, Frances Bothfeld, and Patrick Wong deploying the Styrocast! (2) Manique Talaia-Murray as JWO, ready with her sextant.
  • Noon position, sail plan, weather conditions: 15° 06.2' S, 152° 20.4' W Total log run: 1892.4 nm Attempting to sail on a port tack under the four lowers HOT HOT HOT, force 2 winds, seas as smooth as our bald heads 96 nautical miles to Bora Bora!
  • Marissa and Manique here. We're a little giddy, mostly because we've just finished up the last of our Nautical Science and Engineering presentations. Everyone's topics were super interesting and we learned a lot!!! Tomorrow is another day, another assignment. Our poster presentation for our science research project is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, so we'll be putting on our cleanest shirts and briefing our peers on the data we've been collecting for these past weeks. Most of us will be getting very little sleep tonight, but the fact that we're arriving in Bora Bora tomorrow will definitely tide us over.

    C watch was lucky enough to deploy a very interesting scientific tool this morning. Both of us witnessed the Styrocast, which is a magnificent combination of art and science. Everyone aboard decorated a Styrofoam cup with brilliant colors and fantastic designs. This morning at 1000, the labbies stuffed each of the cups into pantyhose and attached them to the CTD, one of our most commonly deployed instruments. We sent them down on the same wire as the CTD to a depth of 2000 meters and when they were retrieved, the cups had shrunk to the size of shot glasses. We will all treasure these funky trinkets in the years to come- especially because coloring was so therapeutic amidst the bustle of science and sail handling.

    We would love to wax poetic about the impending finale to our voyage, or to thrill you with descriptions of beautiful sunsets, but project work/naptime calls! Since we have about a week left, we can't wait to share these stories with you in person.

    Here's to a great last week, we've learned so much and still have room in our noggins for more!

    Marissa and Manique

    Shoutouts--- From Manique to the Family: Miss you all and lots of love. Wait until you see how cool I look with a shaved head.

    From Marissa to the Family: Ditto!

Dec

14

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Greg (as JWO) and Erin, the third mate, talking over the situation on deck.
  • Instead of giving our current status in bullet form, as per usual, we have decided to give an example of the dialogue that happens on deck with each watch turnover to ensure that the oncoming watch is ready to take over with all pertinent information:

    "As you can see, we are sailing on a port tack under the four lowers and the tops'l with a single reefed main, with a course ordered of 130. We are currently making about 3 knots with force 3 winds from ExN. The seas have been from ExN throughout the watch and roughly 4 feet. There have been a couple threats of rain squalls throughout our watch, but thus far this morning we have avoided them, hopefully you will have similar luck. We pumped the starboard pontoon of the life boat about ten minutes ago, so it should be ok for a while. There has been no traffic in the area. The day tank level is 175. We just took a noon sun line and with a running fix from earlier this morning we have determined our current position as 14° 30.2'S x 152° 38.2'W, and we will plot that on the chart for your use."

    Captain Bill is doing his best to test all of our sail handling abilities as we each work through our JWO phase. This means attempting multiple sail maneuvers each watch period. This morning, even though we were on science watch, we spent at least half the watch sail handling. This included setting and striking three different sails multiple times, as well as tacking three times. Because of this flurry of action, all of us on science watch were called on to help out the "deckies" multiple times, but we did manage enough time in lab to deploy a CTD to 1000 meters of depth.

    In the past few days we have all begun to present on selected engineering and nautical science topics. This, on top of the science presentations due on Thursday and our junior watch officer rotation, has made sleep a distant memory. But for the existence of coffee things might be very grim. Our Thursday morning arrival in Bora Bora also shines like a beacon, inspiring hope in souls lost in the valley of the shadow of Excel. We are all very excited for this upcoming taste of paradise, and I'm filled with curiosity about the next phase of our voyage, when all of the students will be in charge of getting the Seamans the rest of the way to Papeete.

    Family and friends, much love from all of your sweat-soaked shellbacks,

    Flora and Joe

Dec

13

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption- This nibblet can't do it justice. Nom nom.

    The sunset rocked our socks off tonight (mostly because no one is wearing any). 360 degrees of pink cotton candy in the sky-yum. There was some ice cream too. But really. Jonathon realized that the whip no longer instilled fear in the hearts of the crew on field day (AKA the de-funk dance on the RCS where we scrape our momma till she shines.) and instead dangled root beer floats to tempt our cleaning skills out of hiding. Let me tell you-creamy, cold, and clean (the ship, not us) never felt so good. No, we're not losing our minds, but we are looking forward to the sight of coconuts and palm trees in the next few days.

    On this same note, we are sailing more aggressively towards Bora Bora in an attempt to stave off salty sillies. This means the sails go up and down multiple times a day,whether a storm is approaching or not. Good thing we are pros at this since we are now running the ship. (We decided to drop off Capt. Bill on a floating tropical island towed by a turtle we passed by a few days ago!) Just kidding.. but we are running the ship in the Junior Watch officer phase.

    In the junior watch officer phase, we are showing off our mad ship handling skills and everyone has done admirably well. We continue to truck towards Bora Bora and hope to make land fall Thursday. Since we have officially made it to the 28th day at sea, we know we are worth our salt (don't let the crew tell you otherwise). We miss you guys and can't believe we only have 10 days left at sea!

    Alex and Chelsea

    Shout-outs!!!!

    To Alex's Family-Love you and miss you and will be in touch from French Polynesia.

    MOM! Happy Birthday - we got both hemispheres covered this year! Love, hugs, and missing you. -Karoline.

    Mom, Dad, and everyone else-I promise I'll call when I get to land! Lots of love.

Dec

11

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Your friendly neighborhood engineers. From the left James and Eric
  • Greetings from the sweaty confines of the engine room! This is your assistant engineer, an alumni of SEA, and ecstatic to be back on board with your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and friends. The junior watch officer stage is upon the crew, and it's great to see everyone confidently carry out the maneuvers and ship-handling that they have been working so hard at for these past weeks. Celestial navigation has become commonplace, and if you find yourself on deck during twilight, there will undoubtedly be a frenzy of individuals taking star shots, eagerly waiting to see how close their fixes will be. It truly is an empowering skill, and I have no doubt that you will get your earful when everyone returns home. Life on board is busy these past days, constantly working on one of the 716 projects that are due yesterday, but spirits are high, and the bond that has formed between shipmates makes this feel like a home. More and more students are making their way into the engine room, learning systems and asking a wealth of questions, and before long, they too will be turning valves and pushing buttons with reckless abandon (that goes out to our dear Frances.) Despite the busy schedule, there is time to relish in the beauty and solitude of our position, somewhere between here and there, with nothing more than the ocean, the stars and of course, the scientists.
    Telepathic thoughts are sent home daily, but it should be noted that everyone lives in the moment, and every minute in this humbling environment is being milked for all of its wealth and beauty. This is an experience that will never be forgotten by any of us, and I can earnestly say from experience that it will change the lives of everyone involved. I'm off to see what brilliant show the sky has in store for me tonight, but from everyone aboard the Robert C. Seamans, we miss you, we love you, and we will see you soon enough. -Eric

    Shout Out To my cousins Quinn, Jack, Brady and Liam, I am continually collecting little treasures for you from these far away places. Love you, Katy

Dec

12

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Frances confronting her overwhelming fear of touching fish
  • Crew member Dylan (2nd Mate and Bosun)
  • Today was a day like you read about; clear blue skies, a sun that isn't too hot and a breeze that keeps the temps down to a bearable level. Despite the fact that the mercury read an impressive 34 degrees centigrade, the weather was beautiful any way you slice it.

    A watch had the deck this afternoon, and being Sunday, we didn't have class. The leisurely afternoon was broken up by some sail maneuvers, led by today's JWO Oli. Right at watch change we set the Jib tops'l, and then ran through a double tack. Once we were back on a port tack and sailing in the proper direction, we set the fisherman stays'l. In a force 4 breeze, with all the fore and aft sails set and drawing, the Seaman's is a happy vessel. With the extra sail aloft, the motion of the vessel was quite comfortable, even though we were moving at a quick 5 knots.

    The daily routine of the ship has become 2nd nature to the crew, and everyone knows what has to happen during the watch. Boat checks, hourly weather observations and engine room checks happen without a hitch. The 6 hour afternoon watch flew by, ending with a great sunset, as well as catching our 2nd fish of the trip. So far A watch has had all the luck with the fishing line. We pulled up a small tuna, which unfortunately was already dead when it was hauled on board; if it was still alive, we would have thrown it back.

    Dinner tonight was an amazing meal of penne and meat balls, and as the day winds down, the crew of the RCS is enjoying some time together in the saloon. Some are reading, some getting a little work down on their projects while the rest are just hanging out and enjoying each other's company. Its hard to believe we are only 5 days out from Bora Bora. The routine of the ship makes the days blur together in a pleasant collage of stars, bright sun, warm breezes and rolling waves. Its hard to believe that people back home are dealing with freezing temperatures and battling rain and snow. Miss you all.

    Dylan C

Dec

10

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Dinner hauled aboard by Dylan (2nd Mate) and Chelsea
  • Noon position, sail plan, weather conditions: 8° 40'S x 155° 20'W Total log run to date: 1539.3 NM Sailing on a port tack under the 4 lowers with a single reefed main, steering full and by at 140° PSC Sunny, wind E x N , Force 5
  • B watch took the deck at 0700 this morning, and brought good luck with us; we caught a fish! A 43" wahoo got hauled onto deck and carefully filleted by Greg Boyd (2nd Scientist). We were excited to see and touch the scales, eyeballs and organs. We even saved the two parasites living in the stomach! After the excitement of the catch, we moved into the very last day of sampling for student projects. Our morning watch included deployments of the hydrocast, drift meter net, secchi disk, three phytoplankton nets and a neuston tow. In total, we were on station doing science for 4 hours. Star frenzies have been taking place almost every dawn and dusk, despite their inconvenient overlap with mealtimes. With careful logistical planning, however, we have been getting lots of practice with calculations and the sextants.
    The junior watch officer and junior lab officer phase is finally upon us. Beginning at 2300 tonight, students will take on all the responsibilities of our watch officers and scientists. After some motivating reassurance from Captain Bill, we are prepared to lead with confidence and to trust the skills and knowledge we have gained in the last several weeks.
    Engineering reports covering the many mechanical systems on board are being researched. Greg, Brad and I were amazed to see the floor boards of the aft cabin lifted this afternoon to reveal the intricacies of the steering systems below. Students are spending more time than ever in the sweaty confines of the engine room, but gaining a deeper understanding of our ship and all she does for us.
    After a dinner of fresh wahoo prepared by Joe and Jonathan (Steward), B and C watch are relaxing in the main saloon, while A watch has the deck. As we contemplate the enormity of the ocean and work to unfold its mysteries, we think often of everyone at home. This evening had yet another picturesque sunset with a perfectly flat horizon and rays of sunlight piercing upward through colorful clouds. There's nothing quite like a sunset to remind us where we are and give some perspective on life.
    We love you all, Becca and Dylan

Dec

09

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Students hanging out on the headrig. Picture taken from aloft by Olli.
  • Noon position, sail plan, weather conditions: 7° 27.9'S x 156° 22.9'W Total log run to date: 1470 NM Sailing on a port tack under the 4 lowers, steering full and by at about 145° PSC Sunny, wind E, Force 5
  • We are slowly, but surely, becoming used to our bald selves. I no longer experience a jolt of fear and disgust when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Some of the girls have remarked that the hair on their legs is longer than the hair on their heads. Today the group tried to remember what we looked like with hair, without much success.

    The days pass with startling ease when one lacks a consistent sleep schedule. Nights and days run into each other; the only real delineations are meals and watch times. Never before have we been so aware that the system of hours and minutes we use to describe time has little to do with how we experience its passage.

    Moreover, time appears to be accelerating. Our project presentations are due in a week, the junior watch officer phase is beginning, and we have collectively realized just how little time remains before we reach Bora Bora.

    Today we learned about the 'green flash,' an atmospheric phenomenon that occurs at certain sunsets and sunrises, when the horizon is crisp and the sky clear. The atmosphere bends the light of the sun, resulting in slightly separate images of the sun in each color (like a malfunctioning printer). This effect is only noticeable at the horizon, where the sunlight must travel through more of the atmosphere to reach the observer. The red and yellow wavelengths bend less than green wavelengths, so as the sun passes the plane of the horizon, the red and yellow colors disappear first, leaving a green color for a second or two. Some of the ship's company have seen this 'green flash' a few times already this cruise.

    Hi to Kyra's family (Mom, Dad, Michael, Krystal, Aunt Jo, Uncle Dennis, Marisa, Mitch, Meg, Kat, etc) and Matt's family (Mom, Dad, Jana, Sarah, David, and Greg).

    -- Kyra Marsigliano and Matt Pickart Haiku o' the day

Dec

07

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption : (4601) B-watchers Lauren Mitchell and Lima Kayello laying out on the bowsprit to furl the jib. Nick Balfour, Greg Gotta
  • Estimated Position 4° 37.4' S x 156° 58.0'W Course Ordered FB, steering 155 psc, Wind ExN F5, Sea ENE 4, clouds 1/8 Cu
  • Ahoy, howdy and greetings from the Bobby Seamans!
    After being greeted by an awesome breakfast and a beautiful sunrise B watch took the deck by storm for 0700-1300. I began my first day shadowing B watch officer Erin for the junior watch officer (JWO) of the sea component. Erin and I took the con and immediately started getting ready for the mornings sail plan and scientific deployments. After collaborating with the b-watch team in the lab, we set up for 0900 deployment of the carousel and drift meter net.

    This is where the excitement truly began. With steady force 5 winds and 8-10 foot waves, we called on the lab to help double tack to hove to on a port tack. It was nothing less than exhilarating to stand on the quarter deck and see the Seamans respond as B watch took to the sails. This also allowed me to understand the big picture of maneuvering the ship. Without having to focus on the little things like tending a sheet or casting off a line I could see the whole process in its entirety. B watch performed admirably and transitioned effortlessly through each step, showing off how much we have learned in what seems like a few short weeks. The deck crew and I wrapped up the morning with truly awesome crepes from the galley, sextant action, and some time at the helm.

    Looking forward, we have 10 days until Bora Bora and the days seem to be slipping by. With project work and preparation for our final JWO and JLO (junior lab officer) phases we all constantly find ourselves with something to do. And yet, with so much my plate, nothing compares to the little moments where I find myself singing random songs underneath the stars on bow watch. (Mom I can see grandma's star!)

    To my family, I miss you all and love you so much. Thanksgiving was absolutely perfect. I've got you right here with me. Thank you!! Say hey to all the animals and keep a lookout for postcards from Kiribati!

    And before I forget, O......S......U!!!!! Bring back pictures!!!

    -Nick Balfour

    Our short stay in Kiritmati seems like the distant past as life aboard the Seamans returns to scheduled watch rotation. The crew of S-232, now sporting new haircuts (some of us with jedi knight tails, top knots, and William Dafoe haircuts), has pushed into the Southern Hemisphere. Pressure among the crew appears to be rising as we continue to sail full and by with the southeast trade winds making headway toward Bora Bora. As we move closer to our next destination individual responsibilities begin to increase in attempt to make time to finish our research projects, prepare for our shadow and JWO phase's, and put last minute touches on our secret Santa gifts.

    Under the tutelage of our phase II watch officer's Erin Bostrom and Greg Boyd we are taking small steps at achieving the title of Junior Watch Officers (JWO). During this phase I have found a number of newly acquired skills to be quite rewarding. Yesterday during morning twilight I used a sextant to shoot three stars (Canopis and Arcterus, Pollux). While we always have the GPS as back-up, it is much more satisfying to plot a fix on a chart with no electronics.

    Additionally, while this cruise is known for it's over bearing temperatures the upwelling associated with the La Nina phase has kept the temperatures moderate and quite comfortable, even below deck. Nevertheless, most of us still do not enjoy the heat of the engine room, which needs to be checked hourly. While most of us can make it through the check without feeling queasy, we still hit our heads on the seemingly random pipe protrusions, which causes many audible outbursts. Luckily, no one can hear you yell over the sound of the generators.

    We now only have ten days till Bora Bora and our boat Christmas celebration. I am missing everyone at home (Mom, Dad, Emily, Lucy, and Shelly) and hope that you are all well and had a great Thanksgiving. I will be in contact when I get to Tahiti!

    Sincerely, Greg Gotta

Dec

05

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Yesterday we crossed the Line and our ship of pollywogs has transformed into a ship of shellbacks. The venerable ceremonies of the sea were visited upon the crew by Neptune and his minions and already these young people have attained one of the most coveted titles of the sea.

    With our crossing from one hemisphere to the other we enter an entirely new world of weather, currents and sea conditions. The SE trade winds have been blowing strongly since we arrived at Christmas Island, and our track line to Bora Bora requires that we sail as closely into the wind as we are able.

    This demands even more from our students in the realm of seamanship, as now each helmsman in turn is asked to sail "full and bye": bye the wind meaning into the wind and full meaning sails full and drawing well. This is an art and skill relegated solely to the sailor. Each must learn to finely judge the angle of the vessel to the wind and maximize our progress to windward in both angle and speed.

    Phase II, the "shadow" phase is upon us and each student in turn works closely with the mate on watch to learn how to manage the watch and direct the maneuvers of the vessel as we alternately fight to windward and heave-to for science deployments. Many deployments are net tows and these demand a high level of seamanship from both the lab watch and the deck watch as the vessel's heading and speed are carefully manipulated under sail to produce the right towing angle and speed. Increasingly, our students are learning to call the shots.

    Bill Curry
    Master

Dec

06

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Robert C. Seamans Underway 06 December 2010 Peter Osswald and Patrick Wong
  • Noon position, sail plan, weather conditions: 02° 56.1'S x 157° 32.1'W Total log run to date: 1251.3 nm Sailing Full & Bye at about 155°PSC Sailing Under 4 Lowers and JT Sunny, winds ESE, Force 5 Temperature 28.5°C
  • In the past few days following our departure from Kiritimati, the ship's company has settled back down into their normal shipboard routine as we make headway towards our next port stop, Bora Bora. Given that our next destination is a good 5° East, we will be sailing Full & Bye for a good deal of the rest of the trip due to the SE trade winds. For the first half of the trip, we have been gybing to get ourselves sailing appropriately for science deployments. Gybing is a maneuver in which the ship turns around by passing the stern though the wind. This maneuver causes the ship to loose ground and since we have enough trouble getting East already, we have turned to tacking to get on station for science. In tacking, the ship puts her bow through the wind, which allows her to keep more ground than gybing. Compared to gybing, tacking meets the criteria for a "hot move" as per the standards of chief mate Johnny O.

    On December 4 this ship and her crew partook in an equatorial crossing and thereby entered into a tradition of sailing going back hundreds of years. There are very few indeed who can boast of crossing the equator on the crew of a ship, and even fewer on a sailing vessel. All 27 students and 3 professional crew crossed the equator for the first time on this voyage, transforming from lubberly pollywogs into salty shellbacks. The details of this time-honored and mysterious transformation are a closely guarded secret by all shellbacks. To find out, you will have to cross the equator for yourself.

    After our transformation into shellbacks many of us opted to get our heads shaved in proper maritime tradition. The new haircuts are found to be well suited to shipboard life (in particular the limited shower usage), but it is often difficult to tell each other apart from a distance!

    One of the most exciting activities we're doing now is having "shadow watch officers." On each watch, the deck and lab officers will pick a student to become their "shadow" for the watch. That student gets the opportunity to organize the watch's activities and command the watch in conjunction with the watch officer. Over the past few days many of the students have commanded the ship to Gybe, Tack, and heave to for oceanographic deployments. It won't be long until every student has had this privilege. It has been really exciting to take on more responsibility in controlling the vessel and running the operations aboard a sailing research vessel.

    Today, the students took their long awaited Lab Practical after having it pushed back from prior to our arrival at Kiribati. Although there were only 27 questions, students found themselves confronted with questions numbered #30 and #31 with questions such as #12 nowhere in sight. Over the course of an hour and a half, students scrambled to answer question such as: What's wrong with the Neuston Net? What do these acronyms mean? What zooplankton is this? And everyone's favorite: Process this jar of M&Ms.

    Best wishes to all family and friends,
    Peter Osswald and Patrick Wong

Dec

04

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Caption: A spectacular visit to Cook island bird sanctuary and reef. Front row L to R are Patrick, Kyra, Marissa, Karoline, Johnny'O (Chief Mate), Carla (3rd Scientist), Kristine. Back row L to R are Peter, Matthew, and Manique, and our guide Ratita (pronounced Rasta)
  • Mid-point of the cruise (based on days) Equatorial crossing looms on the not-so-distant horizon Sailing and weather conditions @ 0700: 0° 06.5'N x 157° 45.3'W Sailing full and bye on a port tack, under the 4 lowers with single-reefed mainsail. Course made good is 185° True Winds SE x E force 3, light cumulous cloud cover, air temperature a comfortable ( 25.0°) and water temperature ( 25.2°).
  • Chief Scientist Jeff Schell

    Looking out from the deck of the Seamans you get the impression that you are in the middle of nowhere: blue sky above a deep blue sea and scattered clouds as far as the eye can see…no hint of land in any direction. When you look at our position plotted on the chart it is confirmed that we really are in the middle of nowhere. Yet here in this remote location we are able to witness one of Mother Nature's true wonders on display in grand fashion…the Equatorial Under-Current (EUC). The currents around the equator in general and the EUC in particular seem to defy all expectation. Please bear with me as I try to explain.

    The EUC flows from west to east across the entire Pacific Ocean and at its maximum can be upwards of 3knots (3.5 mph). Oddly, this current doesn't flow at the surface but instead this year we found it around 180m deep using an instrument called the acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP). So far, nothing too strange, but wait, based on our measurements the EUC is ˜120nm (138 miles) wide, and ˜150m (490feet) thick. If we make a few simple assumptions about the size of the Mississippi River perhaps we can get a general sense of how massive this current actually is. As a rough average the Mississippi River is no wider than 1nm (likely a bit generous) and on average about10m deep. If this be the case then the EUC is 1,800 times larger (120 x 15) than the largest river in the United States! Are you kidding me? That is just crazy, but, guess what, it is true. The physical mechanisms responsible for this phenomena are fairly well understood, and many student projects focus on the EUC, how it has changed one year to the next, how it mixes, and redistributes salt, heat, nutrients and organisms.

    Now to really blow your mind; what is even more remarkable is that the surface currents, separated by a mere 50m distance are flowing at nearly the same speed in the opposite direction! The turbulent mixing of these different currents and other wind driven processes of upwelling combine to make the equatorial region a remarkably productive area despite being literally, 1000s of nautical miles removed from any major land masses. Recently our net tows have come aboard filled with small fish and plankton. Larger fish and squid that also populate the area to feed on the smaller critters easily avoid out nets, but they do capture our imagination as we watch them swim by. Similarly, we are always in the company of seabirds that have travelled 100's of nautical miles from distant island homes to find food aplenty. And one final surprise…since leaving Hawaii several weeks ago, we are experiencing the coldest water and air temperatures of the trip! All of this mixing and upwelling by the currents has brought deep, cold water closer to the surface generating pleasantly, cool nighttime conditions. For the first time all trip, despite our approach toward the equator, students are pulling out that fleece jacket and hat that Captain Bill encouraged them to pack during the shore component. The equatorial current system is truly one of Mother Nature's wonders.

Dec

03

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Mama Seamans chilling at Anchor.
  • Frances Bothfeld and Karoline Hart
    As we departed our anchorage at Christmas Island, high seas and strong trade winds once again greeted us. Normally we would put up canvas, but we were forced to motor for the sake of science. All night we bobbed up and down deploying our CTD endlessly. Some people in the focsle reported going airborne in their bunks during these rough seas. Christmas Island was great, but all the beach combing stole some of our sea legs and, once again, many of us were prisoners to the deck and remained over the rail for most of the morning- especially C Watch. However, this is just another skill that we have learned on the boat. Unlike before, smiles returned faster, and we were able to laugh about the experience sooner. Peter and Patrick are a bit chagrined that their hull cleaning went to waste, and Johnny O wants to tape off section of the deck to minimize the cleaning come Bora Bora. No worries though- we are now all below deck, enjoying our spaghetti and sauce and contemplating all that lays in our very distant future.

    In order to preserve the sanctity of our Equator Crossing and Shellback Ceremony certain portions of this daily web update have been removed, thus ensuring that the pair of pollywogs responsible for writing this update are not held accountable for yet another transgression against Neptune and his minions. This is for your own good. Remember the first rule about crossing the equator is: you don't talk about crossing the equator!

    But the buzz is all about the equator countdown now: its mere latitudinal minutes until the pollywogs get... In the meantime, we're all getting to know a little more about Neptune. For one, he owns an unusually large supply of .... And for a burly man with a trident, he nurses quite the flair for ... Although not mandatory, many of us are looking forward to .... It has become quite the nuisance in a world of two showers a week and a daily saltwater mist.

    But no matter what awaits us in the next twelve hours, this is the last post coming at you from a couple pollywogs. As we also roll into shadow watches and the routine really becomes second nature, there's also the sense that we're slowly becoming more deserving of the venerated shellback status. We've memorized more than fifty lines and their locations (land also stole some of these from our memory), become conversant in ship-speak, and can play a mean zooplankton during a game of charades. Not to mention that every single student has stood at that helm and used the clouds to keep a straight course, plotted on our official chart, logged occurrences in our official ship's log. Southern hemisphere, here we come!

    Again, sending our love to everyone- especially Kara's mother (happy B-day) and our families. We miss you, but are having fun!

    Frances and Karoline

Dec

02

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Teaching students of the Tennessee Primary School how to play the "Down by the Banks"
  • 02 December 2010 Carla Scocchi - 3rd Asst Scientist
  • Greetings from your local 3rd Assistant Scientist! We have a bit of catching up to do, so let's fill you in on the activities of our last days in port. We had the very unique opportunity for a special cultural exchange on our final day on Kiritimati. We were invited to the Tennessee Primary School where the local students performed beautifully harmonized songs and dance. The acoustics in the pavilion classroom were spot on, and the smiling faces of the children were radiant and contagious - making us smile that much more. While I wouldn't suggest that the RCS crew try out for choir anytime soon, we reciprocated their gesture by singing some songs of our own - such as "Wagon Wheel", "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" and some holiday songs. We had a delicious snack consisting of cookies and coconuts, and continued to mingle with the children after presenting them with some school and art supplies we purchased in Hawaii. It was an unmatched experience - one of those moments when you realize there is truly something special, and uniquely human, that can bring two entirely different cultures together in friendship and laughter.

    After the school visit, a group of us ventured off for some snorkeling at Cook Island to explore the equally amazing underwater world of Kiritimati. We swam with Parrot fish, dove under brain coral, and collected sea urchin spines along the shore while dodging nesting terns. The water was brilliantly colored every shade of blue you could ever imagine. For our first-time snorkelers - this was a great place to learn, and I am so happy to have shared it with you!

    Eventually it was time to say 'Sabo', or 'Goodbye', to Kiritimati. The port stop was fun and a good change of pace, but it’s also good to be home. Lots of shipboard work was completed at anchor, but there is still a lot of work ahead in what is now "Phase 2", where students will be taking on more responsibility for the daily operations of our home, the Robert C. Seamans. It is incredible the amount of information our student crew has managed to learn in the past couple of weeks, and I am excited to watch them continue to take ownership of this vessel that has become so near and dear to their hearts.

    It can take a bit of time to get back into the routine again after being in port, but there are moments of shipboard life that keep you coming back for more. One of the things I will never tire of is sailing off the hook under a brilliantly star-lit night, watching the genuine excitement in the faces of my shipmates as we gaze at the bioluminescent wake of our ship pass astern of us.

Dec

01

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Sascha Patel, Becca Goldman, Greg Gotta, Dylan Anderson, Ollie Weisser, Cara Dennis, Nick Balfour. Jumping off of Kiritimati Island's one and only pier was a major attraction.
  • Noon position, sail plan, weather conditions: 2° 03' x 157° 29.4'W Total log run to date: 1036.2 nm Anchored at Kiritimati Island Sunny, winds SE, force 4 Temperature 28.2
  • We have spent the past two days at anchor at Kiritimati (Christmas) Island, with one watch aboard ship and two free to go ashore. Yesterday A watch and my own C watch went ashore. We began our day by snorkeling around the pier looking at fish and coral. Ollie saw an eagle ray and we all saw parrot fish. After our underwater exploration we turned inland, walking into the town of London. We stopped by the only bank, picked up some Australian dollars, and continued into town in search of food. While we did not find any restaurants (tourists are few and far between in this neck of the woods) we found a convenience store and managed to scavenge for food. We also found a shop selling jewelry made from beach shells. The beaches here are littered with colorful coral and shells. In fact coral was everywhere, reminding me of when we were told in class that the entire Atoll was made of coral. We spent the second half of the day relaxing by the beach and beachcombing for colorful shells and coral.

    Today C watch stayed onboard while A and B watches went ashore. While they were snorkeling off of Cook Island we spent the day keeping up with the ship's tight maintenance schedule and processing for our science projects. Patrick and I got the privilege of scrubbing our own puke stains off Starboard side, as well any spots of rust or grime. After lunch and a short swim call off the port side, C watch continued on to do a deck wash, hold science project meetings with Jeff Schell, and continue lab processing. Ultimately today was a relaxing break from life under sail, but excitement for and anticipation of our future voyage keep us focused on the tasks at hand.

    P.S. Ahoy to all family and friends, thinking of you all the time, without your support I would not be here. Can't wait to tell you all about the voyage when I return to shore. Kristen I love you so much!

    -Peter Osswald

    Hello, land! Goodbye, having a viable excuse for walking silly. You win some, you lose some.

    Kiritimati feels like a different world. We haven't encountered any Americans with tripods and special permits, but it's possible to imagine Kiribati's number one export is tropical island calendar pictures. Not just the white sands, blue water, and perfect shells, but also bizarre English advertisements, rusted cars, and patchwork houses. And needless to say, no pay-phones anywhere. Surreal.

    Since the sleep schedules we've adopted over the last two weeks should rightfully be constrained to labrats for scientific experiments on the REM cycle, it's nice to shift back into a day schedule again. Seeing the sun for more than six or seven consecutive hours at a time creates its own problems, though. Sorry, collective mom readership, we may have picked up some sunburns along the way.

    A and B watch may have missed the pumpkin cheesecake the galley turned out today, but they got to see some pretty cool birds at Cook Island (so named because of a historical visit by Captain Cook). Joe, Chelsea, Ollie, Greg Boyd, Nick, Dylan A, Erin Z., Flora, and Eric all got in on a game of soccer with the islanders- but also reported losing sorely. And even at 2100, with a day of exploring behind them, the main saloon is full of energy- I think that Erin's amazing juggling tricks and Sascha's wonder-massages may be part of the source.

    (Sending so much love to the good ol' S,C,P&K,P,C and J. Oma, I have a new shell for your collection now. And Minnesota crowd, thinkin' of you.)

    -Karoline Hart

Nov

29

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Noah Citron, Sascha Patel, Annah Gerletti, Avery Paxton, Olli Weisser, and first mate Johnny O'Keeffe look for land. We successfully spotted Christmas Island at 0920!
  • Noon position, sail plan, weather conditions: 2° 07.5'N x 157° 32.3'W Total log run to date: 1029.5nm Sailing at 2 kts on a port tack, course 170psc Stays'ls and mains'l Sunny, winds SExS, force 4 Temperature 28.0°
  • Greetings everyone! The morning watch for "A" watch began at 0700. After gobbling down delicious breakfast burritos and heading up to deck, we were informed by the offgoing watch of an exciting development on the radar! Against the black backdrop of the radar screen, green dots created an elbow of land. Although faint, it was distinguishable as Christmas Island. Of course, after realizing we were only 24 nautical miles away from land, we eagerly turned our eyes to the horizon. We could obviously not see land.

    Our watch continued with the longest science deployment to date, a four hour long tow-yo CTD (an instrument towed through the water at various depths that reads temperature, salinity, and depth). Sail handling occurred throughout the deployment to ensure the necessary science speed of 2 kts. As the watch progressed, the green dots on the radar screen became more defined. We again tried to look for land, and failed to see land yet again.

    A few hours later, all members of "A" watch congregated on the roof of the doghouse. Two pairs of binoculars were passed around as our mate, Johnny, explained air and sea features, such as an accumulation of clouds, that indicate the presence of land. We stretched our imaginations to fathom the possibility of land. We did see an accumulation of clouds, but no concrete land mass.

    Following our failed attempts to spot land, we all devoted our full attention to our watch duties. Avery was at the helm when Johnny clambered onto the doghouse roof yet again. With his binoculars in hand, he scanned the horizon, grinned, and called to Sascha. Sascha bounded to the binoculars and after deliberately scanning the horizon, screamed "LAND HO!!!!!!" As is the custom on board, a command not heard is a command not repeated, so Avery echoed Sascha's words. Shouts of "land ho" chorused and leaps and bounds of excitement rippled across the deck and down below.

    As of now, most of us have mixed feelings about seeing land. After being surrounded by nothing but ocean for the past two weeks, to see land and strangers is almost a culture shock. As Noah proclaimed, " I look into the horizon and it's all too static. So far, evey time I've looked out, the water's always moving, changing." The port stop means a break from the busy sea schedule, a chance to snorkel, and interact with locals!

    On another note, we are surprised that nobody has written about a central component of our shipboard lives, gimballed tables!! While on land, tables do not move, at sea, this is not the case. Sea tables can be made to rock with the movement of the boat, so as to not have food slide off the tables. This means that surface of the table may move up to 45 degrees and can hit either your chin or knees. Picture the table as a moving seesaw. You may want to forget leaning or laying your elbows on gimbaled tables forever! You do that and your lunch will either be on the floor or on your neigbour's lap!

    P.S. from Avery: Mom, Dad, Robert, and Clare, prepare to be impressed by my manners! Just think--if you had installed a moving table in the house, I would have learned not to put my elbows on the table 21 years earlier... Clare, I hope you're treating my clothes well haha! To all family and friends, I am having the time of my life and think of you all often. Alex, I miss you more than you can imagine... LOVE, Aves

    P.S. from Sascha: Big bear hugs to ALL the ones I love and think of ever SO OFTEN through rain, shine, sunrises, sunsets and salty sea sprays. See you "Somewhere over the rainbow". Love you, muff.

Nov

28

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Alex seems to be doing the right thing at the helm.
  • Noon position, sail plan, weather conditions: 4° 06.9'N x 157° 23.2'W Total log run to date: 926.5nm Motor-sailing at 1300 RPM on a port tack, course 165psc The 4 lowers are set and trimmed tight Partly cloudy, winds SxE, force 4 Temperature 29.5°
  • A (relaxed) day in the life aboard the Robert C. Seamans. Greetings from the Pacific! Today I will run you through a day aboard the Robert C. Seamans. At 0300, I was in the lab with Annah, Noah, and Erin. There was not much going on, due to some bureaucratic complications related to a science permit in Kiribati waters - we crossed into the EEZ of Kiribati yesterday, and one needs a permit to conduct scientific research in another nation's EEZ. Because we did not have that permit, there were no scientific deployments. Students onboard were also worried that our port-stop on Christmas Island would be cancelled - it would cost us too much time without collecting data!

    Anyways, back to the lab. Instead of just sitting around, twiddling our thumbs and making giant tape balls, Carla (our science mate) allowed us to work on our individual research projects. So Annah and I (we're studying Myctophids together, along with Kyra) went to the library and put our heads together for some data analysis. It is very difficult to think about excel spreadsheets between 0300 and 0600!

    At 0600, Annah and I were in charge of wake-ups. Our job was to wake everyone from B watch, the engineers, and Jeff, our chief scientist. Wake-ups are crucial moments aboard the Seamans - a bad wake-up could ruin someone's watch! Today my wake-up line went something like "Hey, good morning, its Olli. Its about 0600, you have 20 minutes until breakfast. There is a beautiful sunrise outside, make sure you don't miss it!" (And what a sunrise it was!)

    After B watch relieved us at 0700, it was time for our breakfast and then Dawn Cleanup. Every watch that is relieved at 0700 is in charge of a thorough cleaning of heads, soles, showers, and emptying of trashcans. The cleanup is definitely not something to look forward to after being awake since 0300 but the freshwater shower afterwards is! But before taking my sweetly anticipated shower, I had some laundry to take care of. Some thorough saltwater scrubbing later, I hung up my laundry and encountered a few of my fellow A-watchers and Carla: yoga time! In the middle of the "downward dog", it struck me: I should open a yoga-on-a-boat academy! Balance guaranteed to improve by 500% or your money back.

    After some good stretching, it was Shower Time!!! Boy does it feel great washing that sheen of salt, sunscreen and engine grease off! Feeling like a new person, I threw myself into my bunk and took a nice, long nap. During that nap, a P.A. announcement from Capt. Bill: "We have been cleared for scientific research in Kiribati waters!" A thunderous cheer echoed all the way into my bunk. I turned over in my sleep with a big smile on my face – Christmas Island, here we come!

    Avery woke me up, kindly reminding me that it was lunch time - and there was no way I was going to miss falafel and freshly-baked pita bread! With a full stomach and no watch duties for a few hours, Annah and I got together in the lab once again and worked on identifying, weighing and organizing Myctophids. I also had some time left over to rest my back against the storm trysail and finish my book (Kurt Vonnegut, recommended to me by a very special person!). The afternoon was spent basking in the tropical sun, thinking about this blog, and just enjoying my precious time off.

    Dinnertime was at 1820 (delicious pasta with spinach and bacon, with a side of green beans), followed by night watch: 1900-2300. Night watch for me was on deck, under a magnificent night sky. I even got to see the Andromeda nebula through regular binoculars, wow! Now I am wrapping up this blog, ready to go to bed after another long, albeit fantastic day. Good night, everyone!

    P.S. A birthday shout-out from me, in case I don't get a chance on the 30th: Ma, Pa, Tito und der Rest der Familie, ein riesen Abraço! Reza, Tobi, and Basti, I miss you guys! And Sage, I love you very much! All the best

Nov

27

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Each afternoon we get an update, a news report if you will, about interesting happenings around the ship. Navigation, Science, and Engineering. On this day Peter Osswald and Christine Reynolds explain a close correlation between currents and ocean productivity.
  • Chief Scientist Jeff Schell Noon position, sail plan, weather conditions: 5° 21.0'N x 156° 07.6'W Total log run to date: 842nm Sailing on a port tack, steering full and bye making good on 205° psc Sailing under the 4 lowers and fisherman Partly cloudy, winds SSE, force 4 To sum up, a beautiful day of sailing!!
  • FIELD DAY!!!! It is that time of the week to once again give a little love, show some respect for ol' Bobbi C. Each Saturday the entire ship's company turns to and cleans the ship from the bottom up. Every nook and cranny, every square inch of surface below decks, from the overheads (ceilings) to the soles (floors), gets scrubbed down. All the funky smelling mung collected in our wash buckets comes on deck and goes overboard. Three hours of cleaning before it is all said and done. As fun as this may sound you will be surprised to learn that we often need to stir up the student's enthusiasm for this weekly festival of fastidiousness. Periodic doses of candy, delivered with love by the steward, helps to keep the blood sugar levels at peak performance, and radios and Ipods are brought out of storage for the special occasion. Each Watch seems to have their own musical preference, so, as you walk throughout the ship it is not uncommon to find yourself amidst a boisterous group singing and dancing to the latest pop star song (think Katy Perry and Lady Gaga), or some old favorites (say Rolling Stones and Journey).

    Once we have polished off the final touches it is time to clean ourselves. Saltwater showers with a freshwater rinse, on deck, are a favorite option since you can clean your swim suit at the same time! Others opt for the more familiar shower, though water conservation is still a must. We carry a modest supply of freshwater from port and then rely on making our own water thereafter. Two water makers, working by reverse osmosis do the task efficiently, but not without the use of electrical energy, and thus not without the need to burn fossil fuel. Thus, each day as part of our ship's daily news report from the engine room we keep track of our water and fuel usage; a friendly reminder of our contribution to the ship's carbon footprint. To think, the simple task of taking a shower is also an important lesson in sustainable living.

    Well, the sun is about to set, so I am off to grab my camera and head up on deck, where the sounds of laughter are filtering down into my cabin. So with that thought, I bid you adieu, until next time.

    Cheers jeff

Nov

26

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: A beautiful picture taken by Olli of the sunrise. Captain Bill Curry Stands by as C watch relieves A watch of duty. See if you can find me and Annah
  • Annah Gerletti and Kara Dennis 1300 position and weather conditions: 6°44.9' N x 156°43' W Logrun:731 Course: 185 PSC Speep: 6kt Motor sailing full and by under a single reefed main, mainstaysle and forestaysle on a port tack. Clear skies with wisps of clouds and calm force 4 breeze from SExS. The sea height observed was 3-4 feet.
  • We finally sailed out of the ITCZ and were greeted with a wonderful sunrise. A breakfast of champions of oatmeal and sausage was waiting for us as we awoke. The day brought with it warm sunrays and nice breezes.

    The use of sextons brought us "one step closer to becoming gods" as we reduced Apollo's Chariot to a sun line. Steadying ones self from the frequent bob of the boat while holding a sexton requires a stunning power stance.

    After lunch, which of course was, turkey sandwiches the famous post-thanksgiving meal. Class was gathered on the quarterdeck where Kara and I dressed in ridiculous costumes introducing all the presenters. The presentations: navigation, engineering and science went first followed by Creature Features. Later during class each of the watches were tested on how to either gybe the Seamans and get her hove to for a science station. A Watch which includes Kara and myself went first. We nominated Avery to take charge of our group. She was shouting commands and we were scurrying about the deck. All in all each watch was able to figure every thing out.

    Hey Mom, Gus, Taag, and Jill hope you enjoy following me on my amazing voyage. It has only been 11 days since I left but I feel it has gone by so fast. It is so relaxing at sea and every night I am rocked to sleep in my tiny bunk. I have yet to get sea sick on the voyage but I fear I might get land sick. Love you. - Annah Gerletti

    Life without a Cell Phone:
    There is no denying we have been very busy at sea. We are in class, lab, or on watch 10 plus hours a day. Still there is something very calming and simplistic about life at sea. At first I was a little concerned about being without my quintessential staples of technology, my cell phone, email, and Ipod. But I think this isolation from technology has proved to be very beneficial. It enables us to be completely consumed with the task at hand whether it be doing a 100 count of zooplankton or hauling a halyard. Conversations seem richer because you are not competing with a cell phone for the other person's attention. It has also provided me with a lot of time to be introspective. Free time that I would usually use to check email, Facebook, or surf the web, I instead read, journal, or do nothing but simply watch the sea and the sky. It is really centering to experience the silence of observation. At first I really missed music, but now everyone sings and a few of my shipmates even play instruments. My sea experience thus far has been very educational on many different levels. The SEA curriculum is challenging and I have learned so much crossing many disciplines, but I have also learned a lot about taking time for quiet and enjoying the silence. I send salty sea kisses and hugs to all my loved ones in Minnesota. -Kara Dennis

Nov

25

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: End of the line chase conga line! Lima, Annah, Greg, and Ollie celebrate their victory with the port side team!
  • Thursday, November 25, 2010 Lima Kayello and Alex Hounshell 1200 position & weather conditions: 7° 32.0'N x 156°; 43.5'W Log run: 653.75 Course: 160 PSC Speed: 4.5 knots Weather: Rain and squalls with sunny breaks and light and variable winds. Beaufort scale average of 3 with waves 3-4 ft. Sail Plan: Port tack with the four lowers: jib, fore stay'sl, main stay'sl, and shallow reefed main'sl.
  • Happy Thanksgiving to all family and friends!!! We had a great Thanksgiving Day as the sun finally made an appearance. We awoke to rain squalls which quickly gave way to partly sunny skies, but light and variable winds which made sailing slow. Despite having to motor a little, our holiday sprits weren't dampened.

    With the sun bright in the sky, we were able to take our first noon sighting. Using the sextant we determined our latitude based on the height of the sun from the horizon. Although it was our first introduction to the sextant's practical use, our calculations were surprisingly accurate for beginners!

    Also during our morning watch, we saw a sea turtle! It was curiously poking its head on the port side of the ship exploring our drift net as we sought to capture biomass. In addition to the drift net, science was also busy deploying the carousel to collect nutrient and chlorophyll-a samples at deep depths.

    In the afternoon we had a lovely class under the sun! It was very active, highlighted by an exciting line chase to top it off! We had all been working hard this past week learning all the lines to the sails, and the line chase was a chance to showcase how much we had learned! The student crew was split into three groups, with each group having a list of lines. In relay race fashion, each team had to locate all 52 lines; concluding with a conga line dance!

    The day ended with a beautiful sunset and a yummy-licous Thanksgiving dinner! We were all able to take a break from the normal schedule and eat together on deck, soaking in the wonderful aroma of turkey and cranberry sauce and the mesmerizing red skies. We even had a guest appearance from a school of pretty, bright orange squid!

    We all miss family and friends at home, but we are thankful to share this ocean-going experience in the company of such wonderful and caring people. It is now official that the Seamans is our home away from home!

Nov

24

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: All available hands on deck out on the bowsprit furling the jib. From left to right – Peter Osswald, Patrick Wong, Frances Bothfeld, Caroline Hart, Assistant Engineer Eric, and Second Scientist Greg.
  • Wednesday, November 24, 2010 Christine Reynolds and Marissa Tremblay Position: 8°22.3'N x 156°56.9'W Course: 160 PSC Speed: 4.5 knots Weather: ExN Force 7 winds, ExN 9 foot seas!!! Visibility less than 3 nautical miles. Sail Plan: Sailing under a port tack with a double-reefed main and two stays'ls.
  • Rain, rain, go away! C watch took to the deck this morning at 0700. The weather looked promising but showers began to roll in and the clouds began to darken almost immediately. We raced to get our foulies and prepared for the weather ahead. The science team was still able to deploy a carousel and a one-meter net, but had to cancel our next deployment due to rough seas and gusty winds. Captain Bill and our third mate Erin pulled C watch together for a muster and instilled confidence in our sailing abilities. With the prospects of worse weather to come, we all worked as a team to prepare the Seamans.

    We finally stood down watch at 1300, when A watch came on deck to relieve us. Soaking wet from head to toe, we were happy to get some warm clothes and hot chili in our bellies, prepared by our awesome assistant steward Lima. Class proceeded as usual, held in the main saloon far away from the weather on deck. Our second Mate Dylan led class, teaching us how to use a piece of equipment called the sextant, which is used for celestial navigation. During our classes onshore we learned the theory of celestial navigation; having now learned the practical applications of this technique at sea things are starting to make more sense.

    After class, there was time to sing songs, play guitar, and sip hot cocoa for those of us not returning to watch. The weather is slightly clearing, but most of us plan to stay below. Perhaps after a nap and dinner we’ll play a game of cards.

    The smell of pie is wafting through the air; we all have high hopes for our Thanksgiving festivities tomorrow. Christine says the pie surely won’t be as good as Mom's, but she'll be thinking of and missing her family and loved ones. Surely, all hands aboard the Seamans will be too. Marissa says happy early Thanksgiving, family and Scott! Gobble, gobble!

Nov

23

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: Peter Osswald, Jeff Schell, Avery Paxton, Noah Citron, Sascha Patel, Joe Carver, and Erin Zampaglione work together to sweat in the mainstays'l sheet.
  • Tuesday November 23, 2010 Students: Flora Weeks and Oliver Weisser Position: 9 ° 19.5 N x 157 ° 22.5 W Course: 170° PSC Speed: 5 knots Weather: ENE force 5 winds, 6 foot seas Sail plan: Stays'ls (fore stays'l and main stays'l)
  • We crossed below the 10th parallel of North latitude yesterday, and in the Pacific at this time of year, that means ITCZ! ITCZ stands for the "Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone", which is a fancy name for "an area with a lot of squalls and strong winds". Sure enough, when I went on deck this morning at 0700, it was raining. The winds were at force 5, which is about 20 knots, and the 8-foot waves were covered with white-caps.

    A Watch was on deck from 0700 to 1300, as the winds and seas steadily increased. By the end of our watch the winds were gusting force 7 (up to 30 knots), and the seas were reaching heights of twelve feet. While the Robert C. Seamans has seen winds much stronger than this, none of us students have. And so, for the first time, we wondered if maybe it wasn’t safe to spend time on deck. We considered holding the afternoon ship’s meeting and class time in the main saloon instead of outside on the quarterdeck. This also meant that a few of us were forced to don our "foulies" (foul weather gear) for the first time.

    We spent the entire morning looking at our radar and out to the horizon, trying to dodge the worst-looking squalls. The winds began to pick up as we were heading into a science station, and it looked for a few minutes as if we would not be able to deploy our carousel down to 600 meters, to recover water samples at depth. We quickly struck the mains'l and the jib, and the weather started to look a little better, which allowed us to lower the carousel. Then with the carousel at depth, the winds continued to increase, and another squall loomed. We were able to recover the carousel and attain the samples we all needed, before the squall hit in full force, drenching the deck with horizontal rain. And, thankfully, by 1400 the winds decreased, the sky cleared up, and we were able to carry out class on the quarterdeck as planned.

    The ability to have class on deck was much appreciated, because we are all growing accustomed to shipboard life, and we wouldn't want to mess with our routine. At this point, we have figured out how the watch schedule works, when we have to be on deck, in the lab, with the engineers, in the galley, or anywhere else on the boat. What strikes me about life aboard, is how we are constantly working on something. There really is not a single moment of down time on the Robert C. Seamans. Not only is there a hand on the wheel at all hours of the day (and night), the lab is also working 24 hours a day, the engine room is checked and logged every single hour, and the wind, waves and clouds are checked and logged at least every hour. Then there is daily cleaning of the galley, the heads, the soles (floors). If we are not on watch, we are probably trying to sneak in a 3-hour nap between dinner and mid (night) watch. And finally, between the watch schedule, meals, and sleep, we need to be processing the data that is constantly flowing in from the lab, for our research projects.

    But even though it seems we have been running at 110% since day one, there is not a moment's hesitation to put our books down and get hands on a line when we hear "hands to strike the jib!" even when off watch. As hardened sailors of one week, there is a growing understanding of how much the Seamans is our home, our vehicle, our existence. It becomes very hard not to get lost in the handling and caring of the boat, and wrap our heads around where we are and why we are here. That being said, there are also some things that we all find ourselves daydreaming about in idle moments. Amongst those are music (Lady Gaga), clean sheets, half-hour showers, family, friends and loved ones.

Nov

22

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • B-Watch enjoying the view from the bowsprit
  • Monday, November 22, 2010 Brad Davis and Lauren Mitchell Course: 160° PSC Speed: 5 knots Weather: ESE winds, 8-9 ft seas, temp is 28.5°C Sail plan: four lowers: (jib, fore stays'l, main stays'l, double reefed main)
  • As I write we are thousands of miles from home with thousands of feet of water beneath us; we are continuing our journey towards Christmas Island, Bora Bora, and ultimately Tahiti. We are currently about 550 nautical miles from Christmas Island our first planned ports stop, we should be there in about a week's time; our coordinates are 10° 44.1' N x 157° 23.1' W,

    Over the past few nights we have been bathed in the soft light of the moon, last night was a full moon and it is remarkable how much the moon can illuminate the night. Everyday I have been awe-struck by the beauty of the sunrises and sunsets, the incredible azure blue of the water all around us, the shape of the clouds and the way the sun's rays shine through them, and also the way water droplets refract light to create rainbows. At sea you are acutely aware of your surroundings; the beauty of nature is easy to recognize. All one must do is walk on deck and you are taken to a place not many people have the privilege of experiencing during their lifetime. – - Brad Davis

    Last night, B-watch had the evening watch (1900-2300). The watch started out smoothly with the science lab deploying a tucker trawl! Basically three nets stacked on top of each other that open at different depths. I (Lauren) was the "driver" for the deployment, which meant that I got to operate the controls that raise and lower the nets into the water. "Wire Raise! 100m!" The labbies successfully deployed the tucker trawl with the guidance of our First Scientist Katy and our Chief Scientist Jeff. The tucker trawl had been in the water for about 40 minutes when the weather started to pick up and a squall began. We had 600m of wire lowered of the side of the ship, which makes maneuvering the ship rather difficult. As I stood at my post by the wire controls I watched the deck crew, Captain Bill, and our Second Mate Dylan handle the situation with efficiency and finesse. Two of the deck hands, Dylan Anderson and Nick Balfour furled the jib out on the bowsprit during the squall! It made for an exciting evening watch! We got the tucker trawl back on board and as the squall faded out, were finally able to enjoy the delicious ginger snaps that Brad Davis had made for midnight snack!

    B-watch had the morning watch today (0700-1300). The lab deployed the carousel and the meter net, and they also did a neuston tow. One of the major findings was some HUGE, blue copopods! The deck crew was able to do some sail handling as well as assist in some boson work. We learned how to splice ropes, and a few of us learned how to braid. After lunch we had class, which included a few of our Creature Features. While we were at Woods Hole, we identified and studied a zooplankton in pairs. Three groups of students presented today, including me. We also had a very informative skit from A-watch, demonstrating the proper wake-up technique. Wake-ups are very important on a ship that always has people sleeping and working at all

    hours. Summing it up: This trip has been amazing! Time has flown by while we've been on board. It's hard to believe that we're over halfway to Kiritibati (Christmas Island). I've been learning so much about sail handling and oceanography research. I'm constantly trying to absorb more knowledge. The best part however is the view, we are constantly presented with beautiful sunsets, sunrises, clouds, clear skies, rainbows and the bluest water I've ever seen. So, students of Haverling: remember when I said to make sure that you travel? Let me reiterate that now. The world is huge, and I'm on a journey to discover it! P.S. To all friends and family: you are missed and we send our love. Matt's Mom: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    - Lauren Mitchell

Nov

21

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Marissa and Patrick cross the fore staysail as the Robert C. Seamans heaves-to for another oceanographic station.
  • Sunday, 21 November, 2010 Bill Curry, Captain Position 12 05' N x 157 31' W Course 160 PSC Speed 5 knots
  • This morning's position placed us 500 nautical miles almost due south from Honolulu. We are rolling along now with the NE Trades filling in nicely. The students are no longer "land-lubbers"; they have learned the ways of the ship remarkably quickly and are becoming, as the sailor would say, handy. To be able to "hand, reef and steer" is the mark of a tallship sailor and tonight, after tucking in a second reef in the mainsail, our crew is almost fully trained. The mates can with confidence order sail maneuvers and over the past couple of days the crew have set and struck nearly all of the sails many dozens of times. The sounds and scenes of the deck action are very much like those found aboard sailing ships for hundreds of years.

    The mates call the orders: "Hands to the main halyard!" "Standby the main sheet!" and the students sing out the reply "Hands to the main halyard!", "Standby the main sheet!" An order repeated is an order heard. Now everyone knows where to go and, if not all the lines have been memorized, certainly the most used are now well known. The sailing ship has its own language and already our crew would be at home on any of the many hundreds of schooners, brigs, barquentines and tallships still plying the oceans. "Cast off the clewline!" "Hand-over-hand the outhaul!" "All together, now! Two, six, HEAVE!" "That's well, belay!" The new crew of the Robert Seamans can do it all.

    As I write this the watch is changing on deck; the off-going watch carefully explaining how they have prepared the deck and sails for the oncoming watch. The helm is handed over: "I'm here to relieve the helm." "The course ordered is 160 and she is carrying a slight weather helm." Although the days and nights are full, the students are mostly cheerful and ready to soak in the many new experiences. Yesterday pilot whales surfaced along side the ship; last night the sky painted a rainbow across the face of a squall illuminated only by the light of the full moon. Early this morning a thundershower overtook us and all hands doused and furled the mainsail in the driving rain.

    Every day is packed full and the adventure has only begun.

Nov

20

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Caption: The carousel being deployed by Nick Balfour and Katy Hunter (1st Assistant Scientist). Greg Gotta at the hydrowinch controls, Alex Hounshell reading the depth display and Chelsea Bokman in the background.
  • 1200 position and weather conditions: 14o 27.6'N x 157o 41.7'W Log run 325nm, steering 143o psc Sailing on a port tack under 4 lowers, JT and Fisherman sail Wind ExN Force 4, seas 3-4', Making 4 knots
  • Now this is what we have been waiting for. The picture perfect day. A few scattered clouds against a brilliant blue sky matched by the deep blue of the sea below. We have found the Trade Winds and they have given the Seamans a welcome, comfortable heel to starboard, and a gentle, steady motion. No need to use the motor today or in the foreseeable future (knock on wood).

    It has been one of those spectacular days when everybody remembers to unpack their cameras. And where to begin to describe just this one singular day, let alone to try and summarize how far we have come in the past week? The students of class S232 have truly made the Robert C. Seamans their home. They have learned the sailors language, and though they are still learning the names and positions of all the lines, they at least know how to handle them safely under strain. Many have been out on the bow sprit to furl the jib and JT sails; and by now all have had their hand on the helm steering us toward Christmas Island.

    In the lab where once the equipment was foreign and awkwardly handled is now second nature and the students are teaching each other what they know. The research sampling plan has progressed flawlessly thanks to a well trained scientific staff; my hat is off to Katy Hunter, Greg Boyd and Carla Scocchi for doing a wonderful job in the lab. Tonight we look forward to a frenzy of net deployments, each watch deploying a 2m diameter net down to a 100m, as we hunt for myctophids or lantern fish; so named because of their bioluminescent photophores that distinguish one species from the next. True, this means the captain and I will be awake for the entire night, but who could sleep on such a beautiful evening?

    Each time I go to sea I am pleasantly reminded of how bright the moon can be. On land you can go days, weeks, months and not think of the moon, is it full, has it risen, does it matter? But at sea, the moon, the stars, tell us where we are, they help us see, to navigate; the moon drives vast migrations of animals toward and away from the surface of the ocean. To see the reflection of a full moon upon the waves is to be struck by awe and inspiration. Thus, I am here trying to share of bit of the experience with all of you. So please, find yourself a patch of open sky tonight, away from streetlights and billboards, and take in the moon for a change of pace. Chances are good that we are looking up at moon as well. I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening as much as we will.

    Sweet dreams and good night.

Nov

19

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Image attached: 19 Nov setting the jib Caption: Nick Balfour, Lima Kayello, Alex Hounshell, and Joe Carver getting ready to set the jib sail and sweat it out!!!
  • This report brought to you by student Lima Kayello
  • 19 November Lima Kayello At noon the ship was on a port tack with the three lowers (fore stays'l, main stays'l, and main) and the fisherman stays'l set. We had force 2, East-north-easterly winds and 2 to 3-foot seas. Although the winds were light, we were sailing full & by with a course steered of about 160°. Our position was 16o 30.2' N x 157o 54.9' W.

    Another beautiful day aboard the Seamans! A tantalizing sunrise and a light cool morning breeze gave all crewmembers on deck an energized fresh start to a fun-filled and information-packed day. As part of the morning watch, my fellow shipmates and I of B watch had a lot to do. We prepared to set the vessel to hove-to for a three-hour science station. The station deployed the carrousel up to a depth of 600m along with a neuston net tow.

    While the ship was drifting, I managed to help sew a few patches on the fisherman sail alongside my watch leader, Dylan. I enjoyed getting my hands on the sail canvas, mending it with a needle, waxed thread and my own bare hands. The faint smell of canvas still lingers on my fingers this very moment. The smell of a hard days work on deck. We then got our hands and feet wet during the complete deck wash. A lot of back braking scrubbing was involved, yet we very much enjoyed getting our feet wet under the hot sun while taking care of our new home.

    By the time lunch came around, I was definitely looking forward to it!!! After a 6 hour watch, who wouldn't be? Jonathan, our steward, and Erin, his assistant for the day, prepared a hearty tomato soup with side of salad and sour dough... yummmmy... A meal perfected once topped off with the fabulous company of the ship's crew.

    Afternoon class provided us with a brief overview of sail theory and members of the crew demonstrated the proper techniques to carry out a tack and a jibe. The class was then challenged to carry out the technique ourselves… AS A TEAM! Here communication is key. We spent the next hour with all hands on deck soaking in the Big Picture and putting all the details together to set sail and maneuver the ship.

    All parts of the Seamans remain busy throughout the day… and night. At night, the deck and lab do not sleep. There is constant hustle and bustle as we sail along our path to Tahiti. The winds' on our side, the moon shines bright and the waters glitter with the evanescent glow of tiny copepods in our wake. An awe-inspiring sight complementing the infinite blanket of bright twinkling stars painted overhead.

    We are still in the beginning of our journey, and have yet to master all parts of the vessel, from the sails to the dissecting scope. There is no reason not to take full advantage of this large 'sea' of opportunity laid before us. But for now as my day comes to an end, I will now join my fellow shipmates and watch the beautiful sunset while laughing, unwinding and maybe taking part in the massage train right under the main sail.

    To all of those I hold dear, my family and friends, I am doing very well, missing you so much. I am so happy to be here, sailing the Pacific about to cross the equator for the first time while soaking up the sun and all that there is to learn about our oceans, and sailing the beautiful Seamans.

Nov

18

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Christine Reynolds, Matt Pickart, Avery Paxton, Marissa Tremblay, Flora Weeks, Frances Bothfeld, and Nick Balfour, sitting on the quarterdeck.
  • 18 November Marissa Tremblay
  • 1300 Report:
    The ship was on a port tack with the four lowers (jib, fore stays'l, main stays'l, and a shallow reef main) and the tops'l set. We were sailing full & by with a course steered of 210°. We had force 2, southeasterly winds and 2-foot seas.

    I think it is fair to say that all of the students aboard the Robert C. Seamans feel a lot better today than we did last night. For example, I was only seasick once today, which is a lot better than the 13 times I leaned over the quarterdeck yesterday. The seas feel much calmer now that we have stopped motoring, and getting some shut-eye really helped my stomach be more acclimated. Soon we should all have sturdy sea legs!

    I am on C watch, and we had the morning watch today from 0700 to 1300. Once the deck crew set the sails so that we were heave-to, we launched into our first science SUPERSTATION! In the science lab, we deployed the carousel over the port science deck, and we drifted a 1-meter net from the port stern to collect Trichodesmium for my project. Once the carousel reached the surface, we had many, many water samples to collect and analyze, which took up the rest of our watch in the science lab.

    At 1300 we turned the reigns over to A watch, and went below for a delicious lunch of homemade macaroni and cheese prepared by Jonathan, our steward, and Dylan Anderson, the assistant steward for the day. At 1400, the ship's company met on the quarterdeck for our first class. We discussed what the academic program looks like for the rest of our time at sea. We have a lot of work to do in the next six weeks! If the past one and a half days are any indication of what is to come, the hard work will be well worth it for the adventure we are just beginning.

    C watch returns to duty tonight for mid-watch, 2300-0300, so I had better get some sleep. A big shout out to family, friends, and anyone else who is reading this blog. Yes Mom, I am wearing sunscreen diligently and have yet to get a sunburn.

Nov

17

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • This daily web update is from student Alex Hounshell
  • Image attached. 17 Nov Heaving Caption: Erin, Brad, Lauren, Annah, and Noah learning to heave on the clewl'n and out-haul to set the tops'l
  • 1300 Report: The ship was on a port tack with the four lower sails set (jib, fore stys'l, main stays'l, and main). Course heading was 165o with 2-4' waves. Our position was 20° 56.5' N x 158° 02.7' W.

    Aloha to all family, friends, and pets from the Robert C. Seamans! Today was a big day for us as we finally cast-off our dock lines and headed for the Pacific Ocean. The harbor was calm, but once clear of the break water, the ocean swells started to kick in. The seas were about 3 ft, but it was enough for people to start dropping like flies right away.

    Those who had not completely succumbed to seasickness, set the sails for the first time including the jib, the fore stays'l, the main stays'l, and the main. It took awhile for us to muster the muscle and the right leverage to heave the sails all the way up, but we eventually got the hang of it!

    From there, we learned how to maneuver the sails to 'heave-to' for the science stations; essentially to keep the motion and position of the ship steady as we take measurements. As we watched, the scientific team deployed the neuston net in hopes of catching fantastic sea creatures. While no mermaids were caught, thousands of Trichodesmium made their way into our net.

    By this point, we had left sight of land and were completely surrounded by the deep blue ocean. Of course, there were still plenty of people searching for the horizon in hopes of curing their seasickness.

    At 1330 we entered our regular watch routine. I happened to be in B watch, the first watch to take over the ship at sea! I was assigned to the engineer and spent most of the 6 hour watch in the engine room. Incredibly, despite the close, hot quarters and a rolling boat, I was able to learn plenty about the inner workings of the Seamans. From the engine up keep to the cleaning of the sewage system, I was exposed to it all. It was fascinating to learn all the ins and outs of the systems that keep life aboard the ship so comfortable!

    While I was in the depths of the engine room, my fellow watch-mates were deploying the first CTD to test for temperature and salinity down to a depth of 1,100 meters. We also got our hands on the helm for the first time. I took over the helm right towards the end of the watch as the sun was starting to set. It was hard to keep her on course, but after awhile we all got the hang of it!

    After a full day on deck, B watch was finally able to meet up with the rest of our shipmates for dinner. This included fresh tuna from the local fish market auction, which we had visited on shore the day before. It was delicious!

    At this point, we are all enjoying the beautiful moon and hoping that in the next few days we will all be able to acquire our sea legs! Hope everybody at home is doing well!

Nov

16

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • SSV Robert Seamans, alongside Pier 36 Honolulu Harbor
  • 16 November Chief Scientist Jeff Schell
  • Image attached: 16 November, Honolulu fish auction

    Today was the first day the students of class S232, the new crew of the SSV Robert C. Seamans; awoke in their new home, and I was lucky enough to be the one to wake them all at 0500 AM. Our morning began with a tour of the famous Honolulu Fish Auction, the commercial outlet for the Hawaiian fishing industry that has been an example of sustainable management. The students toured modern long-line fishing vessels and witnessed the auctioning of the days catch. Our steward Jonathan Holmes jumped into the frenzy and purchased us a modest sized yellow fin tuna and our 3rd scientist Greg Boyd was kind enough to cut some sashimi for breakfast!

    After such a hearty breakfast, the students were ready for a full day of safety and procedural training. There are no passengers on a Sailing School Vessel (SSV), thus, according to coast guard regulations the students are required to learn and practice their individual and watch responsibilities during all emergency situations. In addition, line handling, sail set and strike, and hydrowinch operations for oceanographic gear deployments occupied much of our morning. The crew emphasized clear, concise communication across all departments. "A command not repeated is a command not heard" was our mantra for the morning.

    And now as the evening draws to a close, the students stagger back to their bunks, eager to rest their weary minds and body knowing that tomorrow theory becomes practice; tomorrow we set sail for Tahiti!

Noc

15

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate

SSV Robert C. Seamans S232 - Oceans & Climate
  • Class S232 arrives in Honolulu, excited to see their new home!
  • This past week has been busy; so much work accomplished: sails repaired, blocks overhauled, new line rove off. The crew have been single-minded in their focus and intensity; mounds of provisions have been packed, repacked and stowed, engines and pumps have received new parts and renewed life; computers groomed; science arrays perfected, tweaked and calibrated in preparation for so much new ocean to come. But somehow the heart of the ship has seemed strangely silent and still, something missing. All is preparation, anticipation; we stage hands bustle about.

    Today the heart came alive at exactly 1400 hours. Empty bunks have been occupied. New "foulies" hang in the lockers. The ship is ringing with laughter and greetings and I am reminded of the first time, decades ago now, that I joined my first ship. I mean, how could you not be excited? Our 27 new shipmates have arrived and the ship has sprung to life. We will spend the next day and a half training, drilling and learning the ropes and soon preparation and anticipation will turn to realization. Within days our happy new "lubbers" will be ocean sailors and eager oceanographers. We can hardly wait to slip the lines.