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Voyages

SSV Robert C. Seamans Blog

The Robert C. Seamans boarded students of class S-237 in San Diego, California on Sunday October 2, 2011. They plan to sail towards the tropics and equatorial region, and will then head north to Honolulu, Hawaii. Students will disembark on Wednesday November 9, 2011.

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

Nov

08

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: November 7, 2011
Current Position: 2051.3N x 15701.2W
Course & Speed: Anchored on the coast of Lanai
Sail Plan: Nada!
Weather: Force 6 wind ENE, <1 foot swells
Photo Caption: Watching the sunset while at anchor off of the SW cliffs of Lanai.

Hey-o home!

This is the second to last blog you will be reading from the class of S237! As our trip nears its end, relaxation takes on a whole new meaning.  It is 2230 here off the coast of Lanai and final poster presentations just ended; we are finally officially finished with all research projects!  As we joke saying, now let the fun begin with one day left, it is actually starting to hit us that within 36 hours the semester and this amazing adventure will be over. 

Today started out great as we crossed the Alehuihaha Channel heading towards Lanai. We expected extremely rough seas and a crazy roll, but to most people’s comfort (and some people’s dismay), we experienced calm conditions for the most part.  The day only got better as we began celebrating deckhand Sarah Felders birthday! We all ate too much good food today thanks to the stewards and Tara, our assistant steward of the day.  At about 1300 we found a cozy and very windy cove along the southwestern cliffs of Lanai.  These remote and sheltered cliffs made for a beautiful sunset landscape and a comforting place to sleep tonight.  As we are at anchor tonight, sleep will be plentiful on the ship! Anchor watches take place tonight meaning that two or three people watch the deck and continue on boat checks and anchor checks for two hours a group.  That leaves six whole hours of sleep for everybody else, a luxurious amount basically foreign to us now.

As the trip wraps up, tomorrow becomes busier and busier with last minute projects, some crew evaluations, a final extreme field day tomorrow, bunk love and our last swizzle.  We are planning an all hands breakfast at 0700 which will fill our stomachs and give us energy for the big day ahead.  The working day starts with bunk love after breakfast during which we will give some lovin to our bunks,  AKA personal field day!  The boat will start to look scarce as bunks empty and bags get packed.  After bunk love, we have our last, but far from least, field day.  We all look forward to the satisfying feeling of cleaning the ship to make it sparkle shinier than when we stepped foot onboard on day one.  Following field day will be some fun activities and an evening celebration.  The challenge for this swizzle is a contest to see which watch can come up with the sappiest goodbye; hopefully we dont see too many tears.  You guys will hear more about that from our final blogger tomorrow!  Tomorrow evening we will get underway for our final destination - Honolulu. 

To friends and families back home, we will be talking to you very soon and I know everybody is more than excited for that.  We miss you all terribly.

For one of the last times from the Seamans,
Carry on.
Dana

PS - Mom, Dad, 334, M, Jer and Cookie - talk to you guys so soon.  I miss and love you all like crazy!
PPS - Dad - we arent sure if the NFL update on the computer here is fake the Bills? I hope the standings are a joke.

Nov

07

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: November 6, 2011
Current Position: 19° 55.4’ N x 156° 01.8’ W
Course & Speed: c/o 005° PSC, c/s 008°, 9.2 kts
Sail Plan: Motorsailing at 1400 RPM under the staysails
Weather: Wind NNW F2, seas NW 1 ft. 27.5°C, Barometer 1015.2
Photo Caption: An outrigger floating in the harbor with the waves crashing in the background. Photo credit: Josh Sorosky
Photo Caption: Chad snorkeling nearby Cook’s monument. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Campbell

Hello people of the Earth,

Tara here to provide an update to the adventures of the Robert C. Seamans. Today has been an exciting day for sure. Anchored off Hawaii, we started out our day with an all hands breakfast. Usually we eat in shifts to keep up with the watch schedule, so it was pretty fun to have everybody eating together. After that we were split into two groups to head over to Cook’s Monument for some snorkeling fun - a morning group and an afternoon group. I was in the morning deployment so as soon as breakfast was ready and things were set up, we took off in the small boat to head over. It was brilliant. We saw so many different fish and coral. We even saw an eel and there were rumors of people seeing a manta ray. The afternoon bunch got a most excellent opportunity to swim with the dolphins that hang out in the area..

After returning to our own Bobby C., we started work on our oceanography projects. It took a while (and 32 days out at sea collecting data), but they are finally finished. Turned in and complete (phew!). Tomorrow we get to present our findings to everybody on board - which is going to be interesting. I can’t wait to find out what everyone has discovered with their projects.

At 1630 B watch returned to standing watch and my last watch as a JWO was spent getting us ready to go underway again and navigating us back out of the anchorage so that we could sail overnight to our next destination. My watch was reunited with our Phase 1 mate and scientist, Jeremy Dann and Katy Hunter, and we gained Kate Tanski as our deckhand. It was fun. As it got darker, we could see the lights of Hawaii illuminating the night and C watcher Sunny spotted dolphins playing off our bow. It was awesome; a lot of us went out to watch as they jumped and swam in front of us - though some forgot in the excitement to walk on the windward side of the boat.

Hey guys, your youngest sailor, Ryne, also back to drop a quick hello to the readers. How’s land? Oh, that’s right, it’s great, as we know now from today’s snorkel and Cook’s Monument adventure! What a beautiful anchorage with fish, dolphins, and manta rays! As we near towards the end of our journey and we reflect upon the friends we have made, I am 100% positive that I would have had it no other way. Being out here has been the best adventure of my life thus far. I would love to follow up on my challenge to the readers and again remind everyone to go out and breathe a little, take in the sites, life is short, go out and live! Although, technically, this is Tara’s blog post she has been willing to allow me to write a quick shout out and fill in some of my followers on how things are, as this will be B Watch’s last post. So much thanks to Tara! Things have gone very well this trip and I can finally breathe a huge sigh of relief, due to earlier accomplishments in finally finishing the big oceanography research assignment. To keep this short, I’ll end by saying I miss everyone and hope things are well! Mom, dad, Z.J., Colton, and Justin and all other friends who will be upset that I didn’t specifically give them a shout out I’ll be home shortly but for now I am living it up and taking in the sites! I have tons of pictures and stories to share with everyone so prepare for a cook out when I get back! Love you all and we will speak soon, God bless!

Cheers for now,

Tara C. Haney and Ryne Beeding

PS. I’ll be seeing you shortly, family of mine. It seems like such little time has passed, but we’ve sailed across the Pacific to Hawaii. Crazy.
Tara signing off.

Nov

06

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Position: Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii
Course / Speed: Anchored
Sail Plan: Anchored
Weather: Winds: West force 1.  Seas: West 1 ft.  Cloudy.  Temp 26°C.
Photo caption:  Everyone enjoys a swim in Kealakekua Bay.  Students line up to jump off the bowsprit and Chad makes quite a splash. 

Hello all,

Greetings from Hawaii!  We have finally dropped anchor in Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii after five weeks of sailing the open ocean.  Our trek across the Pacific totaled 3277.5 nautical miles and a few more remain before we reach our final port in Honolulu.  After spotting land yesterday afternoon, we traveled clockwise around the big island through the night and prepared to anchor by making the Seamans ship shape.  We pulled into Kealakekua Bay in the early afternoon as kayakers and dolphins escorted us around the bay.

After the successful anchoring at 1500, Captain Jason called an all hands muster on the quarterdeck and announced that the afternoon science deployment was replaced with a swim call.  The students rushed to change into swimwear and patiently listened to the lengthy safety briefing before the “pool” was opened.  Once lifeguards were in place the students hustled to the bowsprit and leapt one by one into the water.  Footballs were thrown, Frisbees were flung, and dolphins jumped around the bay as S237 swam around the Seamans. Once everyone was accounted for back on the boat, the grill was brought up from below, hung over the side, and fired up.  Assistant steward Claire, steward Chris, and steward Kelsey finished off an amazing day in the galley with ribs, burgers, and fresh fruit salad.  All hands enjoyed the feast on deck.

Tomorrow we will split up into two groups and take trips ashore. We are going to visit the shrine of Captain James Cook, who after years of leading exhibitions of European discovery in the Pacific met his end in Kealakekua Bay.  It should be a fun day of swimming, snorkeling, and getting our feet on some hard and dry ground.  In the meantime, our familiar underway watches will be shortened to anchor watches, giving everyone time to sleep and work on our research projects. 

To all the loved ones reading, we all look forward to talking soon. 
Aloha,
Jimmy C.

P.S. Family and friends, I will be in touch very soon.  I’m having a great time and hope that everything is well back on land.  Mom, Dad, and Amy, I’ll talk to you all on Wednesday!

Nov

05

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 4 November 2011
Current Position:  1844N by 155 34W
Course & Speed: Clockwise around the Big Island - Captain Quilter, 8 kts.
Sail Plan: Staysls and Topsl
Weather: Fairly high seas (9-11 ft), happy clouds and 25 kt winds
Photo Caption: Chad Bowker and Jimmy Campbell enjoying the view from aloft on the course yard.

Land ho! After 32 days at sea, we finally got our first sight of Hawaii looming on the horizon. After so long staring at the sometimes only subtle break between sea and sky, its almost surreal to see the mountainous Big Island poking through the clouds. We had a little competition to see who could guess closest to the time of our first sighting and Dana Wilfahrt nailed it on the dot at 1400. Jimmy Campbell and Chris Klein spotted it from aloft after some deliberation. Though we saw it from 50 miles out on radar, some cloud cover on the horizon concealed our view until it was already towering above the sea. It brought a whole new wave of excitement as preparations for land began and we turned south to sail around the southern end of the island. Captain Jason revealed the plan for the final week at sea, filled with swimming, snorkeling and way too much project work (which has added a sense of urgency to the next few days). I think that sight of the looming island that marks the end of our trip also reminded us all of the looming deadline two days from now Its crunch time as we fight for minutes at the computers to finalize our findings. But were almost there! Its exciting to think we are so close to turning in the project we’ve nurtured for the last 12 weeks. And as exciting as the prospect of reaching land is, it has also brought a wave of realization of just how few days we have left on the ship we’ve called home for so long. The idea that we will be off the boat on Sunday after 32 days within the bounds of the deck rails is just crazy.

Amidst the rush and stress of finishing our projects, its saddening to think how few days we have left. As excited as I am for firm ground, I know the rock of the ship is something I will miss until the day I step foot onboard again. We spent the majority of class time today in solitude (as much as you can get on deck of a 135-foot ship) reflecting on the trip and looking forward to life on land. As we sat and thought, we wrote ourselves a letter, which Deb promised to send to us six months from our departure from the ship. We asked ourselves questions like, what about life aboard the ship was easy? What was hard? What is something no one on land will understand? What do we hope to take from this trip? In the 45 minutes, I only got to one of these questions, but the chance to stop, slow down, and really think about life aboard and how it will change life on land was a pleasant relief from the stress of the end of the semester. Amidst the writing and analyzing, it is easy to forget that we are, in fact, sailing on a 135-foot boat, 12 miles off of the Big Island of Hawaii, gearing up to make anchor and explore the ocean we’ve been sailing over for so long. Life could be worse.

But the thought of the end brought a wave of emotion as I wrote my letter. As quickly as this journey began, it will end, and we will be back to the real world. Back to a world so vastly different than our life here at sea. Where the galleys called the kitchen, the soles the floor, and where we have to rely on little things called alarm clocks instead of sure wake-ups from the on-watch. If I could have both, I would. Gearing up for the culture shock of returning to land, where life is not nearly as simple as 3 pairs of clothes, a 5 gallon bucket and a laundry line is daunting. As much as I have to tell and as much as I have to show, its a hard realization that very few will truly understand. And the only ones that will will be walking down the gangway beside me, only to part ways and part lives.

Despite for a daily sunset and a nightly squall, there isn’t that much to see out here. And with all the seeing stripped away all that is left is being, which is impossible to make someone understand. How it feels to get off the jib after a quick furl in an oncoming squall, how it feels to ride the rock of the ship at the end of the top yard. All the things a picture can show but not much describe. Most of all Ill miss this community: the people Ive met and the relationships Ive formed, the confidence I have in my shipmates’ abilities and the trust I have in my peers. These things are the ones Ill miss the most but the ones that are hardest to describe. Ill miss all the things that only someone who’s done this could understand and the things only someone on this ship could share. As much as I want to put them into words, I know I probably never can. Its been 32 days in the making and its only a few more before it ends.

Ill miss this. Thank you to everyone who made this possible for all of us. I cant tell you how appreciative I am.

To Kelsey, I miss you so much and I love you like crazy and more every day. Cant wait to see you and hear all about your travels!
To Jamin, first day in sight of the island and we saw a coconut float by. Thought of you!
To the fam, I havent forgot about you I promise. See you soon!

Josh

Nov

04

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 3 November 2011
Current Position: 18 28.0 N x 153 27.1 W
Course & Speed: Course Ordered 275 PSC, 5.5 kts
Sail Plan: Mainstaysl, forestaysl, and topsl
Weather: Winds ENE F5, swells ENE 10 feet. Patchy altocumulus with occasional squalls.
Photo Caption: Yesterday, Clare and I sat on the top spreaders on the foremast as Ryne and Brendan climbed out on the topsl and course yards.

Were just over 100 miles from the Big Island and have started overhearing radio chatter again. Everyone has made a guess of when well first call land ho! Most estimations fall around tomorrows sunrise (Friday morning). There will be fabulous prizes for whomever has guessed closest without being late. I anticipate many people will be aloft tomorrow morning, scouring the horizon.

At the beginning of this trip, all I wanted to do in my free time was read. Now, that is the last thing I would choose to do with any limited time off. Id first go aloft, lie on the bowsprit, work on my sail canvas wallet or tie knots, write a letter, bounce work-out on the science deck, or just talk to shipmates. I love to sit on the deckbox on the quarterdeck with a project in hand, talking and goofing off. My favorite moments usually occur with just one other person, and by chance: well be left alone on the quarterdeck, one of us steering and the other standing by, or someone will be at the controls on the science deck and the other will be watching the wire. We cant cross under the wire during deployments because it is under such high tension, but well talk across it, lightly but deeply. Ocean and sky facilitate strong connection.

Ill certainly miss the open ocean. This isolation has been incredible. There is too much here to ever be bored. Most fundamentally, the water and sky are never the same moment to moment. The birds too have changed. Today, deckhand Sarah Felder gave a presentation on pelagic birds: petrels, terns, shearwaters, albatross, tropicbirds, and boobies. We have not seen albatross since weve entered equatorial waters: they exist in both hemispheres but do not cross the equator. Since they cannot sustain flight in calms, they do not venture close to the equatorial doldrums. Sitting on the foremast yesterday afternoon, Clare and I saw a booby hovering around the top yards. They do not trail boats, but they like the wind coming off the ships bow. We watched him wheeling and plunging wildly as he hunted flying fish.

One of my favorite places to visit is Waynes World, the tiny deckhouse that is the boatswains domain. The walls are lined with all manner of hand tools and almost out-of-place equipment, like a drill press. I’ve personally made good use of the hot knife and canvas repair toolkit. It’s great to be around others working on their own projects - Ive seen ditty bags, wallets, canvas photo albums, notebook covers, monkeys fists, Turks heads, bags made from scraps of tired pants. Many of the crew have a lot of experience with sailor craft, so they’re a great resource. Its also fun to commiserate with fellow students as we all work on our first projects.

The juxtaposition of supplies in lab is also very pleasing. Well work with beautiful blown glass titration systems for measuring nitrate concentration, and later filter seawater for microplastics using a bulky contraption made of PVC pipe. Deployments are an intricate dance between people, fragile instruments, and thousands of meters of high-tension wire. Handling the wire and equipment becomes an art, as much as sail handling, coiling line, or scrubbing the soles.

In short, I love this. I have loved being at sea. We have crossed half an ocean: yesterday, we logged 3000 nautical miles. The next few days will be very exciting as we sail past Mauna Loa, Molokai, and other incredible parts of the eastern Hawaiian Islands. However, I did realize with a pang that tonights star frenzy was perhaps the last time this trip that well see an unbroken horizon. It happened too quickly.

It is impossible to communicate to you a conception of the trembling sensation, half pleasurable and half fearful, with which I am preparing to depart. I am going to unexplored regions, to the land of mist and snow, but I shall kill no albatross, therefore do not be alarmed for my safety or if I should come back to you as worn and woeful as the Ancient Mariner. You will smile at my allusion, but I will disclose a secret there is something at work in my soul which I do not understand a love for the marvelous, a belief in the marvelous which hurries me out of the common pathways to the wild sea and unvisited regions I am about to explore shall I meet you again, after having traversed immense seas, and returned?
I dare not expect such success I love you very tenderly. Remember me with affection, should you never hear from me again.

-Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (from the preface of Eye of the Albatross by Carl Safina)

Dont take me too seriously - you will hear from us all again in a few days.

Love,
Justine-ophore Bouton Paradis

Nov

03

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 2 Nov 2011
Current Position:  1829N by 152 15W
Course & Speed:  Currently gybed for science, going 2kts in the wrong direction
Sail Plan: Staysls and jib
Weather: Generally nice, though there have been squalls on and off the radar for the past two days.
Photo Caption:  C Watch decides to get off the deck!  Jimmy C took this picture of Sunny, Justine C, and Steve on the headrig from the top yard, while Max (hidden by the topsl) waves from the course yard.

Hello you big wide world!

This is the Bobby Seamans checking in once again from the great big blue. Were all doing well out here.  Our hands have become callused and tough, our noses have become impervious to BO, and our eyes keep a sharp lookout for traffic, weather, whales and mung.  We are well into the JWO/JLO phase of the trip now, and have begun putting various things on top of the compass when we steer, in preparation for our upcoming Polynesian navigation run.  During the Polynesian portion of the trip, all modern navigational methods will be denied to us, including sextants and compass. Well be steering by the wind, waves, sun and stars.  I’m pretty excited, though I imagine we will get fairly off course, at least until we get the hang of it. 

Shooting stars and sun lines with the sextants quickly became and has remained one of my favorite things that I have learned during this trip. Its hard to pick sometimes, because I feel like Ive been crammed full of so much information its amazing my head can hold it all.  Shooting stars at star frenzy definitely stands out though.  Not only must we precompute twilight and selected stars (those stars that will appear early in the darkening sky), we must also shoot accurately and quickly so as to not lose the horizon.  This means, among other things, knowing how to find the correct stars in the sky at a time of night when there are very few other stars to give helpful pointers. 

As the frenzy begins, cries of Stand by Student X on Vega/Deneb/etc! begin to fill the air, along with Mark! and How do I pronounce this star?  This last is usually directed at Fomalhaut, one of the brighter navigation stars in our sky that has received some of the funniest names from students trying to shoot, mark, and stay upright all at the same time. My personal favorite was Formalhog, which brought to mind a pig in a ball gown.

On an unrelated subject, as we approach land, we have all begun ripping through our bucket lists for the trip, trying to cram in as much time aloft, on the headrig, and learning fancy knots as possible.  C Watch learned how to make a Turks Head today.  We’ve all got one now, on a wrist or an ankle.  It feels like a badge of togetherness.  Most of the crew and students have one.  Many students and crew have also been making bags, wallets, and book covers out of sailcloth, using palm thimbles and wickedly sharp, long needles.  We all want to take a little piece of the ship with us when we go.

I’m excited to get to Hawaii, but I will miss being all on our own in the middle of the huge blue sea.  The other day the International Space Station passed over us (it was spotted by Steve), and at the moment when it was directly overhead, the people inside it were the closest people to us. 

Dawn watch is approaching, and sleep is very necessary.  Lots and lots of love from the whole ships company!

Sunny, Star Hunter

P.S.  Has it snowed yet in New England?  Cause I’m wearing shorts and sunscreen.  Suckers!  Halloween at 25C was weird but awesome.

P.P.S.  Hi Mom, Dad, Sam, and Gramma!  I’m going to be a deckhand for a few days at dock in Hawaii!  I miss you all and have postcards waiting to be sent as soon as we pass a mail buoy.  I considered the message in a bottle method, but I didn’t want to pollute. 

P.P.P.S.  Will, I cant wait to call you.  I miss you so much.

Nov

02

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: November 1, 2011
Current Position: 1719.7N x 14937.0W
Course & Speed: Course Ordered 275 PSC, going 6 knots
Sail Plan: Sailing on a broad reach, starboard tack under the main staysl and forestaysl.
Weather: Wind Force 5, ENE. Waves 7 ft, NExE.
Photo Caption: The crew after their night of terror.

The hierarchy of the working culture in which we’ve found ourselves immersed has proved to be in place for a reason. We check in with the captain, chief scientist and our watch officers to make sure that were not endangering our shipmates or the ship. So far, so good - were 400 miles from the Hawaiian Islands and in the final week of our research manuscripts. Naturally, we thought we were safe to believe everything that we were being told. We were wrong.

Halloween on board the Seamans was incredibly epic. I don’t think a single one of the students has ever been so royally pranked. The day was straight forward with an assortment of creative of costumes, a pumpkin carving contest, and an hour of trick-or-treating. After the afternoon events, watches resumed their duties on deck and in lab and everyone else caught up on sleep. But at 2130, everyone on board was notified that our beloved steward, Chris, had been bitten by the rat.

Now, for the sake of our families state of mind and at risk of spreading rumors, we had been advised to not blog about the rat that we believed boarded with us in San Diego. Since day one wed been setting traps and keeping a sharp lookout for rat-related evidence, and we had concluded that our little friend didnt actually make it on board. Then, just last week there was a reported sighting in dry storage! The rat had been feasting on our provisions, and it was somehow getting on deck and gnawing through our poorly cleaned meter nets (oops - well played science). Obviously it had to be taken care of, but amidst the hustle and bustle of our lives on board, we students didnt pay too much mind to our (fake) 32nd shipmate.

Through the loud speaker we heard, All hands to the quarter deck. Wear your shoes and bring your harnesses. Chris has been injured - he was bitten by the rat while in dry storage. All hands to the quarter deck immediately. In retrospect, we probably should have considered that it was still Halloween (and that it was a ridiculous scenario), but after a long day of sunshine and candy bars it sounded totally plausible and really scary. We quickly organized ourselves on deck and our captain (wearing a medical mask) informed us that Chris had been bitten badly, multiple times and that he didn’t look good. The staff was worried about what diseases the rat may be carrying, so they were going to start the process of figuring out what to do. Oh no! Was Chris going to be OK? Would we still eat as decadently if we only had our assistant steward? Those thoughts aside, the next step was to quarantine Chris. Naturally, this meant all 16 students had to climb down into the (very small) water-tight lazarette, aft of the aft cabin.

The tension was high as we tried to process the severity of what was going on. No one could believe that it wasnt a joke, and things only got worse when we heard Chriss screams through the wall and staff above us dropping words like viruses, and airborne. After thirty minutes in the laz, our captain called to us once more to tell us that we were dealing with the Hanta virus, and we would have to go through decontamination. I cant begin to describe the anxiety we were feeling - Chris was sick, and we were going to have to abandon ship. All because of the rat!

Of course it all seems so ridiculous now. We had come up with every logical explanation for why the staff knew what was wrong so quickly. We had decided that Chris vengeful exclamations were a symptom of the bites. Some students had recited prayers, and a few of us said goodbye. Ha! And all for a haunted ship! We climbed up the laz ladder on to the deck - one watch at a time, harnessed to one another - and were escorted to the starboard life rafts where the haunted ship began. There was fake blood everywhere and Crisco covered rails and knobs. Behind every nook, cranny and hatch, a staff member waited to scare us with blasts from air pumps, needle guns (which dont actually have needles on them), and gory hands. The climax of the haunt was when Chris (the victim) was feasting on one of the mates insides on the dining table in the main saloon, while Kelsey, our assistant steward, sawed woeful music from her violin on the galley block. For a haunted house on a boat in the middle of the ocean, it was beyond impressive.

Processing everything that went on took longer for some than others, but in the end it was a way for our staff to have a great time showing us how much they care. They put a ton of effort into an epic scare, and I doubt any of us will ever be so wholly fooled again. Thankfully, Chris is alright, our food today was spectacular, and there is no rat on board.

Its wild to think that we only have a week left - I hate to think that soon I wont get to enjoy a 3:00am snack after a squall-filled watch with these faces. Weve all grown so much, and were not even there yet. We have a little more (a lot more) to do in lab, everyone is becoming more and more comfortable calling sail maneuvers on deck, and were beginning to inventory the remaining provisions in dry storage for the next voyage. Fingers crossed that we dont find a rat!

To my family and friends - I missed you all over Halloween. I didn’t lose any phones or toes, and you all would have loved the humor behind my costume. I love you all as much as ever, and Ill talk to you in a week!

All my love,
Katy Stetson

Just a shout out to my little cousins, Quinn, Jack, Brady and Liam miss you and love you!  -Katy Hurricane Hunter

Nov

01

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 31 October 2011
Current Position: 17 13.5 N x 148 13 W
Course & Speed: 285 True, sailing at 5.4 knots
Sail Plan: Staysls
Weather: Wind ENE force 5, seas ENE 5.5 ft
Photo Caption: Captain Jason the Super-WO emerges from the doghouse at the Halloween party.  On his head is the Junior Steward Officer Tiara, and he wears the Junior Watch Officer Jersey and the Junior Lab Officer Tutu, as well as the Student Assistant Engineer Tool Belt.  He plays his part well even to the point of forgetting several points of ship operation.

Happy Halloween to everyone out there!  Were all well and running down to Hawaii here on the SSV Robert C. Seamans.  Today marked the last day of science deployments to collect data for student projects, which by now are well underway.  Yesterday, we all completed a preliminary results section, and by the end of this week we will have finished our final manuscripts. No-one, except perhaps the scientists, knows what will happen next in terms of deployments, but it is fairly certain that the bi-daily neuston tows (and possibly parts of the surface stations) will continue until we reach Hawaii. 

With only nine more days left until we dock at Honolulu, this gives us a few days at the very end to get the vessel all shipshape and present our projects.  In addition, weve been learning the finer points of seamanship and working to make our sail handling even more efficient.  There are so many things happening I hardly know what to talk about.  Today during class, we had a Halloween swizzle and Trick or Treating along the boat check route.  Everyone turned out in costume. 

I hope everyone back home is doing fine.  Mom, Dad, and Ari, I still remember that you want me to call home as soon as I can. 

Brendan Kohrn (but for today, I was Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard)

Oct

31

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 30 October 2011
Current Position: 1700.6N x 14634.9W
Course & Speed: 270 psc, 5.3 kts.
Sail Plan: Mainstaysl, Course and Topsl; Sailing dead downwind
Weather: Winds Force 3 ExN, Seas ENE, 4 feet, 26C
Photo Caption: A typical evening de-stressing on the Quarterdeck—plus a kite.

Bonjour,

I hope the outside world is running smoothly and the World Series ended the way you wished. Life on board the Seamans is getting busier and Hawaii is fast approaching. Everyone is trying to remain unstressed and find the time to read a book, go aloft or visit the bowsprit before we reach our destination and the journey ends. Our science projects have started to reach the forefront of our minds as data collection and net tows come to a close in the next few days.

The ships miniature library has become the hot spot on the boat - both literally and figuratively - filled with students working hard on organizing their data and making graphs. Personally, I have spent a lot of time looking through a microscope for the past week. Many of my fellow classmates have as well; we count anything from pteropods to bacterial colonies, phytoplankton to microplastics. Most of us are excited to finish our projects and are thinking ahead to future sail handling, JWO responsibilities, and plans for Hawaiian adventures.

The busy life on board has been challenging. The Seamans has challenged all of us by giving us responsibility for others and holding us responsible for all our actions; life on this ship forced us to develop a heightened awareness of our surroundings and our actions because of the high level of safety and the close quarters in which we reside. Consideration for others and for the well-being of the ship is our number one priority. When we turn over for watch, we all switch into a different mode: aware of the fact that we are now partly responsible for the well-being of many close friends. With roughly eight days till we reach the Hawaiian Islands, weve started to reflect and think about all the amazing stories and lessons we have to tell our friends back on shore.

We are learning unique skills and, while we have had an amazing adventure, we are thinking of our loved ones at home every day and have started to miss our cell phones-if only just a little-in order to hear the voices of friends and family. Halloween is tomorrow, the Chief Mate has a party planned, and Dawn Watch approaches quickly. I wish you all a goodnight from everyone on board the Seamans!

Sincerely,
Justine Cyr

PS. I miss you Mom, Dad, Erika, Olivia, Liam, Sharon, Fred and all my ski team buddies up in The County. Paul Stone and Rachel Hannah, I hope a giant congrats is in order and overdue. To all: I cannot wait to smell the snow and feel the crisp Northern Maine air again!

Oct

30

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 29 October 2011
Current Position: 1622.6N x 14447.9W
Course & Speed: 300 at 5 kts
Sail Plan: Sailing under Mainstaysl, Forestaysl
Weather: Winds ExN F5, Seas NExN 7ft
Photo Caption: The view from out here (Photo courtesy of Josh S.).

Hello fellow blog readers,

Another awesome day aboard the Robert C. Seamans is coming to close, ending day 28 since the last sight of land. JWO and JLO phase are still pressuring peers to their full potential of critical thinking and honing their leadership skills. As responsibility steadily increases, class S237 rises to and conquers every task, some assignments giving out more scrapes and bruises than others.

Saturday brings one thing to mind to everyone on board FIELD DAY! Thats right, all hands are getting on hands and knees, penetrating those impossible to reach cracks and getting rid of the mung. MUNG! is neither matter nor non-matter, it is the grime which is between molecules. It does not belong and it is our job to get in the spaces between spaces and disperse this revolting vermin!, our captain Jason Quilter reminds us exactly how to perform on field day. As everyone gets ready for the sweat intensive cleaning process, old field day clothes come out from the bottom of the drawer and we muster at set locations throughout the ship. Two hours later the ship has that sweet smell of cleanliness which makes all smile and the captain beams with pride over his clean vessel. As field day ends, JWO and JLO pick back up without skipping a beat.

On deck the JWO takes over and makes sure all deck hands have snack and are ready to re-focus on the tasks at hand. This takes extreme organization, mental tracking of crew members and addendums, and the watchful eye of the mate, grinning at every success and failure as they see their watch learning from each other more than ever on the cruise track. To me, I feel that this is the entire point of the JWO and JLO phase: to allow more freedom and responsibilities to come crashing down on a single body and having the watch come together to help figure stuff out until the JWO can get a grasp on the situation and gasp for air. The lab is very similar to deck - the JLO needs to delegate responsibilities to others including the assistant scientists in order to keep the bigger picture in mind. We all learned from our own and others mistakes; mates and crew members advise at this point, but from now on we are applying what we have been trained on these past 12 weeks. We falter as individuals but succeed as a watch, depending on each other at different times.

The laundry bucket makes an appearance for the second time of the trip; we have learned a few tricks of the trade to make the process faster. We have also learned to keep better track of the tubas on top to allow a steady breeze down below to keep the human perfume to a minimum. As days roll by with every rocking motion of the ship, not one roll passes without us thinking about family and friends back on land. People awaiting the first phone call from an S237 crew member will have to hang in there just a little bit longer, for this amazing experience still goes on. But trust me, we are all just as eager to make that phone call.

That wraps it up for the day today; I wish to thank everyone for their support of this program, and to wish all good health and mind.
Yours truly,
The Chad

P.S. Everyone back home: I love you guys and I am counting down the days to call you; have your phone chargers at the ready its going to be a long conversation. Dad: Im expecting a full NFL seasons highlights, start writing down some notes!

Oct

29

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 28 October 2011
Current Position: 1444.5N x 14159.5W
Course & Speed: 305 at 5 kts
Sail Plan: Storm trysl, mainstaysl, and forestaysl
Photo Caption: The storm is approaching!

Dear Diary,

Today was our second day of JLO (Junior Lab Officer) and JWO (Junior Watch Officer). The official neon JWO vest and yellow JLO tutu disguised any trepidation that these brave individuals experienced. How exciting! Everyone killed it! Watching the camaraderie and leadership that has developed between our small 6-person watches and crew as a whole is unbelievable; I guess that thats what happens when you go out into the middle of the Pacific with 31 people for six weeks.

It has been pretty incredible watching everyone function amidst the stress of JWO/JLO, completing our projects, getting sleep, and trying to enjoy ourselves. With one week left, it has been become obvious that our time on the boat is coming to an end. Hawaii has been a constant conversation topic and we saw signs of ship traffic for the first time in weeks today! Our first reminder of land, theres another ship 16 miles off of our port bow. Other people in the oceanno way!

Although these thirty-one faces that we have been surrounded by are beautiful, it may be time for a slight change of scenery. Our field day costumes are getting more extreme and our conversations have taken a turn for the loopyare we losing it? This may be attributed to the recent inundation of rain that we have been experiencing. Inundation is definitely the wrong word (sorry Mom! Were still afloat!). Nonetheless, the Northeast trades are bringing us much more extreme weather. By the end of our JWO phase we will all be experts on squall tactics. All in all, things on board have been great. Everyone is happy and healthy - Yippee!

Well, I hope that this finds you in good health and you are in all of our thoughts. Mom and Dad and Robert, I love you! Robert, happy birthday, youre the best! For everyone else on board, they are sending their love and positive thoughts!

Aisha

Oct

28

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 27 October 2011
Current Position: 1423.1N x 14057.1W
Course & Speed: 305 at 6 kts
Sail Plan: Storm trysl, mainstaysl, forestaysl and jib
Photo Caption: Jimmy models the required attire for a Junior Lab Officer

Hello folks so very far from this gorgeous patch of blue,

Today marks the first watches of the Junior Watch and Lab Officers. We as a class are now taking over more and more of the responsibilities of running the ship. For some it is pretty stressful and others not so much. Junior officers direct the operations of the ship both on deck and in lab. If we have a question we can no longer ask the mate, we must ask one another amongst the students. So far so well and I get my first stint as watch officer starting at 0300 for dawn watch.

This afternoon was a class in splicing and other traditional marlinspike seamanship. We can now splice, seize and whip rope, yet another set of skills we will take home from this trip. A trip that is closely coming to an end with Hawaii less than 900 miles away and the closest land to us currently. Class also brought a lesson in making sourdough bread from our steward, Chris, who runs a bakery back home in Colorado. Together the boat created a sourdough starter by the name of Scoby Doughby Dough. He has been living and growing for a week now. Once we leave the ship, students and crew can bring a little of the Seamans sourdough culture back home with them for ongoing baking adventures, travel plans and TSA permitting.

Getting around the ship can be an effortless trip if one plans their steps accordingly. As the ship rolls you can fly up steps of a ladder with little to no effort. Or you can take one step and end up flying through the open reefer doorway and nearly collide with the Captain. In lab we find ourselves clinging to small ledges and bumps to remain upright on our stools. One would be prudent to arrange one’s bunk items so as to not roll from side to side. While a little rocking helps lull some to sleep, a solid whack into the side of a bunk will wake the deepest of sleepers.

A secondary stash of high quality romance novels was discovered during the last field day by some diligent scrubbers and the books have steadily been disappearing off the shelves. The best place to read is often the foredeck during a science station. There is shade and little ship motion and plenty of deck boxes to curl up on. The headrig is also often home to a reader or two.

It’s time for a nap before watch. To all my family and friends reading this, I will return soon and no need to worry. Good luck Hans with the college applications; Rex, dont miss the train; Liam, keep up the work and exercise; and Dante, I will be home for Thanksgiving. Mom and Dad, I hope everything is going well and I will see you soon. 

Max

Oct

27

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 26 October 2011
Current Position: 1312.5N x 14009.0W
Course & Speed: 305 at 5 kts
Sail Plan: Storm trysl, mainstaysl, forestaysl and jib
Weather: Wind: Force 3 ExN Seas: 3 swells ENE
Photo Caption: View of the Seamans from the bowsprit, with some laundry, of course.

Hi home!

As our recently legal, Phishhead Chris mentioned yesterday, today brings an exciting but nerve racking end to Phase II!  It is unbelievable that tomorrow begins not only the JWO/JLO (Junior Watch/Lab Officer) phase, but also the beginning of the final stretch.  We are all anxious to begin our reign of the ship tonight after evening watch.  While finishing up Phase II today, we all have mixed feelings about having the ship completely in our hands; doubt is definitely a major concern, but we all know that we have been thoroughly prepared by our watch officers for this next phase.  As 2nd scientist Greg (Floyd Lloyd) Boyd told us, this boat is like a big toy that we get to experiment with, and we should take advantage of it as most of us will never get to do something like this again.  Hes right.  Lucky for us, and even luckier for the staff, this ship was designed for students to make mistakes on, and mistakes we have made, but that is the easiest and most straight forward way to learn.  Once 1st mate Colleen runs up from the doghouse asking what you did because you’ve gotten so off course that you almost gybed the ship, I promise, you will never get off course again. 

Today marked the first crew cooking day!  As each student gets to partake in being Assistant Steward for a day, normally twice throughout the trip, today was the crews turn.  Kate made breakfast, morning snack was unclaimed but we enjoyed leftover granola and dip, lunch was delicious chicken, cheese and fresh-out-of-the-oven bread baguette sandwiches made by Colleen and Anne, afternoon snack was left to the engineers, Jimmy and Mack, who made Copepod cookies, Pizza dinner by Hunter and Jeremy Dann and finally, Sarah Elizabeth, Sarah Elizabeth and Deb made Lemon pie for midnight snack.  The stewards suggested it be crew cooking day every day as they enjoyed most of it relaxing. 

The weather was, once again, beautiful today.  The sun was shining bright and near 27, which is continuing on to a perfect night of star gazing.  Yesterday we discovered that we can see the Andromada Galaxy through our binoculars, too cool.  Star gazing has been unbelievable and makes for a very nice bow watch when you have an hour to do nothing but think, star gaze, and look for inexistent traffic.  Learning new constellations and stars has been a blast on the night watches.

Our Taffrail log is reading 2284.5nm with an estimated 1150nm to go! It hit us yesterday how little time we have left when our class announcements began with Colleen and Jason reminding us to make sure we are taking time to check off things on our to-do lists as time is running short.  Class MCs for the day, Katy and Justine P. had us take a minute to think about what we want to do with the last 13 days of our trip so that we wont look back and regret anything.  This was a great realization, and it was noted as we had a large number of students and staff on the bow sprit and going aloft today.

We are all having a blast and it is definitely exciting to know we are accomplishing a great feat, but some of us, including myself, are counting down the minutes until we can talk to family and friends back home.  From the S237 crew to wherever home may be, we miss you and well talk to you soon. 

Your future JWO,
Dana

P.S. Mom and Dad- get ready to not be able to shut me up when I get home! I miss and love you guys. Im counting down the seconds until I can talk to you! Goose, Mellster, Dan, Panda, Melvin and Justiney, M, Jer and Cookie- boy, do I miss you guys! I cant wait to hear about everything thats happened in the past 6 weeks, it better be exciting!  I love you all to the Casseopia and back. Ill be home soon.

Oct

26

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 25 October 2011
Current Position: 1205.2N x 13829.1W
Course & Speed: 305 True, 7.5 kts
Sail Plan: 4 lowers (storm trysl, mainstaysl, forestaysl, and jib)
Weather: Wind: NNE Force 5, Seas: ENE 7ft
Photo Caption: Some sublime clouds off the starboard side

Hey folks,

Once again, today proved another excellent day for sailing out on the Pacific.  As sustained winds remain around a force five and we turn further northwest towards Hawaii, Bobby C. (not to be confused with Ricky Bobby) goes faster and faster.  Our speed over the bottom reached nearly 10 knots today, leaving most everyone thrilled.  There’s something irresistibly delightful in such a pace, especially when it brings us closer and closer to our paradise of a destination.  Yet, despite our excitement to hit Hawaii and, ultimately, head home, we all appear to be loving our final weeks on the open ocean.  While the Captain cant make any promises, the current plan is to reach Hawaii in twelve or thirteen days and spend the last couple days cruising (and maybe snorkeling) around the islands.

Nevertheless, much lies between us and our destination.  If all goes as planned, tomorrow night marks our transition from Phase II to Phase III of our journey.  This marks the end of shadowing our mates and scientists in order to enter the full-fledged Junior Watch/Lab Officer phase. Students will take turns playing the role of the watch or lab officer for their watch, essentially running the ship with only minimal supervision for safety’s sake.  Today’s class consisted of four student-requested stations in order to fully prepare us for this phase change.  The stations were squall tactics, (speed) sail furling, sail plans, and training on some previously foreign electronic instrumentation.  In Phase III, students will be calling all the shots and communicating directly with the Captain/Chief Scientist as the mates/assistant scientists watch on.  While this represents a serious increase in student responsibility, it also means an even more significant increase in the daily excitement aboard the ship. Simply, things are about to get pretty awesome!  Though what we’ve accomplished in the last three weeks is remarkably rare for college students (and the general population), the opportunity to run a tall ship is astounding.  Fear, nervousness, and slight ill-preparedness aside, all of us are dying to dive into Phase III.

Finally, Id like to take a moment to share a few personal thoughts and observations.  First and foremost, I want to thank everybody on board for the best 21st birthday I could have possibly imagined.  In the days leading up it, I doubted how enjoyable it would really be with my dearest friends, loving family, and obligatory alcoholic beverages all ashore.  Not that I questioned my decision to participate in this program; I just couldn’t help but think of how my birthday would be at home or in Colorado.  By the end of the day, this thought had entirely escaped me.  Every single person on board went out of their way to help me enjoy such a special day.  I’m quite sure I now belong to an elite group of people whose first Bloody Mary, shot, and fruit cocktail as a twenty-one year old were all non-alcoholic. I’m looking forward to further celebrations in Hawaii, Colorado, and Connecticut. 

And, last but not least, I want to stress how fortunate we all are to be part of such an incredible experience.  This thought has crossed my mind a number of times over the course of this trip, but especially so today.  I was at the helm just before sunset, looking up at Jimmy and Chad way out on the course yard, and I caught myself thinking, Is this real?!  For all the hard work, we seem to enjoy ourselves thoroughly.  So, Mom and Dad, thank you so much for putting up with me for all these years, for enduring all the pain (and money) Ive cost you, and for withstanding my repeatedly rambunctious behavior.  One of these days, hopefully sooner rather than later, Ill make it all up to you.

Your resident (and recently legal) SEA Phishhead,
Christopher Broderick Klein

Oct

25

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date:  24 October 2011
Current Position: 11 35N x 136 W
Course & Speed: 285 psc 6.5 kts
Sail Plan: storm trysl, staysls, jib
Weather: wind NExE F5   seas NE 7ft   25.3
Photo Caption: C watch deploys colored spheroids (donated by NASA) in order to determine the depth at which certain colors are visible within the water column.

Another gorgeous day in the Pacific has passed, whatever that means. The days out here all seem to run together without much definition.  In the last few days I have had conversations with multiple people who have no idea what day it is.  Sure, we all know when night happens, and what time of day it is, but never exactly which day; fortunately my watch tells me, or I would be totally lost as well.  I think this is largely because we never really go to bed, it tends to be more of a series of sporadic naps whenever you can find time. 

One of the few ways that our days are defined is by class time.  Today we had a great opportunity to study the depth in the water at which different colors of light are visible.  First we deployed a secchi disk, a weighted white disk about a foot and a half in diameter that gets lowered into the water until it can no longer be seen; that depth indicates where there is still 18% of the surface light getting through the water.  After a short lecture on some of the properties of light and how it reacts in water, we moved on to our second deployment for the day.  In order to determine how far individual colors of light penetrate into the water, we broke up into our watch groups and deployed a collection of colored spheroids.  These highly sophisticated devices (m&ms), donated by NASA of course, sank through the water while we timed their descent till they could no longer be seen. Turns out that, as you might expect, the colors of light roughly followed the pattern of a rainbow, with the red m&ms disappearing first, and the blues and greens visible to longest.

Lots of love to all our family and friends back home - we miss you and can’t wait to share our many stories

Steve

Oct

24

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: October 23, 2011
Current Position: 10˚ 57’ N x 134˚ 31’W
Course & Speed: 269˚ True, 5.8 knots
Sail Plan: Fore Stays’l, Main Stays’l, Tops’l, and Stormtrys’l
Weather: Wind from NExN, force 5. Seas from NExE, 6 foot swells.
Photo Caption:  Everybody loves calamari. And science. Ryne Beeding pulled in this guy last night during our second night of squid jigging.

Take two for field day today. Swells were up to 12 and 14 feet yesterday which would have made scrub buckets of water and reorganizing equipment rather difficult. So we postponed to today and had a nice Sunday evening powow to scrub the deepest darkest corners of the ship. Another full day of cleaning concluded with a salt water party shower under the fire hose and left us heading back west into the sunset.

We’ve kept our latitude for the last few days to follow a patch of particularly high biological activity. We are currently in the North Equatorial Current, a divergence zone that runs west alongside the eastbound Equatorial Counter Current. In these areas, upwelling brings nutrient-rich water up from the depths to support more life than we’ve seen yet. Without surprise, last night was quite the macrofauna kind of day. About midday 3rd mate Sarah Herard hauled in a bulbous tuna on the fishing line which made some phenomenal poké over coconut rice for dinner today. Thank you stewards Chris, Kelsey, and baby Chris. I’ve never had fish so fresh as I have on this ship.

Because of the high biological productivity, this area is ideal for squid jigging. So last night found us on the science deck of the hove-to ship throwing jigs over the side into big rolling swells. After only 15 minutes Ryne Beeding pulled in our first squid. The ensuing scene was rather comical as the bucketed squid and its powerful jet propulsion spewed sea water at curious onlookers as they peered over the bucket. Before long it was dissected and filleted for snack sometime soon. Not long later, a flying fish, which have become almost commonplace now, found its way onto deck. And then a dazed shearwater that rode out a rough night on the foredeck with quite a headache after getting in a tussle with rigging. Seeing the full net tows and all the life has been really incredible, but tonight will be our last to watch the schools of squid dart below the spotlight as it is rumored that sometime tomorrow we will be headed north again for the next port stop: Honolulu.

To all the land-locked people out there that I love so much, I miss you all and hope the fall is treating you well, be it Prague, SoCal or the Northeast. Know that I am having the time of my life that we knew I would and am still waking up (every couple hours for watch) curious and eager to soak up even more. Kelsey, I miss you like crazy and not a day goes by when you aren’t constantly on my mind. I love you dearly.

Until next time,
Josh

Oct

23

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: October 22, 2011
Current Position: 10 40 N x 132 25W
Course & Speed: 269 True, 5.8 knots
Sail Plan: Fore Staysl, Main Staysl
Weather: Wind from ENE, force 5. Seas from ENE, 8 feet.
Photo Caption:  The tuna that was captured this morning, complete with the two paper nautilus from the tunas insides.

Hello Homeworld,

Its been a fun and eventful last few days as usual, but last night we got to try out something new and crazy and also kind of awesome: squid jigging. None of us knew what we were getting ourselves into. Squid jigging is the process of throwing a special kind of lure over the side of the boat with a length of fishing line attached. You then jig the line up and down and hopefully catch some squid. It has to be performed in the middle of the night, with all our deck lights and spotlights in the area turned on and aimed towards the water. Despite a multitude of squid sightings while on station, we were unsuccessful in our attempts to catch a squid last night, but Third Mate Sarah Herard caught a flying fish with the dip net. We also had another fishing success this morning - Sarah also reeled in a tuna. Second Scientist Greg Boyd opened it up and discovered it had paper nautili in its stomach, a rarely caught type of cephalopod. So we are clearly in the right location for this scientific adventure - more squid jigging planned tonight!

Besides the fishing experiences, we are all a little worried. We are set to progress on to the JWO phase of our voyage in three days. This means that we will be running the ship with input mostly from our watch group. It seems like such a short time and we still have so much to learn. This opportunity, though, will allow us to learn by experience exactly why we set and strike sails at certain times and how the wind works with our sails and speed. Its going to be crazy and challenging.


Cheers,
Tara C. Haney

P.S. Hey Brandy! That shout out yesterday was meant for you. Jimmy is awesome for remembering. Ill see you guys sooner than we all probably realize. Missing you guys!

Oct

22

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: October 21, 2011
Current Position: 10 30.4 N x 131 21.4W
Course & Speed: 330 True, 5.2 knots
Sail Plan: Jib, Fore Staysl, Main Staysl, Storm Trysl
Weather: Wind from NExE, force 4. Seas from NE, 4 feet.
Photo Caption:  The amazing view from aloft the foremast.  The yards are braced sharp, the topsl is seen furled against the mast, and below the forestayl and jib are set on a port tack.

Hello all,

Our nineteenth day at sea was a special one.  Today we celebrated Chris Kleins 21st birthday, turned westward towards Hawaii, and had our deck practical.  Our big turn was made at 1400 today when we hit our southernmost point just south of 10N.  The turn was made today in order for science to sample the upwelling area between the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre and the Equatorial Current.  After two weeks of steering dead south, it feels good to get on a starboard tack and sail towards Hawaii. For two weeks the temperature has been rising as we approached the equator and it should finally level off as we slowly climb north again.

Today we also had our deck practical, which was a graded display of knowledge of watch duties.  Everything from sail handling to celestial navigation was covered.  It was a relatively stress free exam, as we have all learned so much and have now had weeks of experience.  It is amazing how much we have learned in the few short weeks we have been at sea. We have come a long way since the first weeks pin chase, or memorization of the ships 70+ lines, to today when we can set, tend, strike, and furl all nine of the ships sails with minimal instruction from the mates. Along with sail handling, we are becoming proficient in celestial navigation, weather analysis, and following the proper rules of the road. 

After the deck practical, we celebrated Chris Klein’s 21st with an afternoon swizzle in the sun.  The stewards baked some amazing Key Lime pies and soda was produced from far below in the dry stores.  Everyone put on their best clothes, which included togas, jorts, sequin shirts, camo suspenders, and classy Hawaiian shirts.  We all participated in games such as pin the jorts on the mermaid and Twister (not easy on a rocking boat). While Chris could not enjoy his first legal adult beverage on the boat, I am told the virgin Bloody Mary made by the galley was beyond delicious. Tara wishes to say happy birthday to her sister, whose birthday was also today!

Thats about all for today.  It is amazing to be out here on the ocean and we cant do the experience justice through words and pictures on the blog. To all the crews loved ones reading this, we are all safe, well-fed, and only slightly sunburnt. 

Jimmy

P.S. Mom, don’t worry. I had a harness on when I took this picture. Amy, Dad and Maggie, miss you but I’m doing great and loving it out here. To friends, family, and other landlocked people reading this, thanks for reading and Ill be back to see you all soon.  Peace.

Oct

21

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 20 Oct 11
Current Position: 10 40N X 130 35 W
Course & Speed: 190 true, 3.9 knots over ground
Sail Plan: Sailing under the mainsl, mainstaysl, forestaysl and jib
Weather: Wind from the ESE, force 4. 26
Photo Caption: First Mate Colleen, Clare, and Captain Jason observing from the quarter deck, deciding on the next move.

Today was day one of the Chase the Buoy exercise. Overboard went the one of the ship’s inflatable fenders dressed in my foul weather pants to then be chased down by A watch. Each watch will have a turn to maneuver our ship and try to get the fender back on board. It took A Watch about 30 minutes to gybe approximately 7 times, fail to tack once, and finally come around and pick up the bumper off the science deck. I was chosen by my fellow watchmates to call the moves, so I was on the quarterdeck trying to keep the big picture together while the rest of the team was line handling and passing sails like crazy. A watch did an amazing job!

I did not think I could learn to much in such a short period, but this afternoon was the first time that I have been able to really see and understand all of the sail theory that the mates have been telling us about. Falling off the wind, heading up into the wind, luffing sails. It was all so abstract before today. Good timing too, for tomorrow is our deck practical, where we will have to prove our skills in line handling, terminology, setting and striking sails and knowledge of the stars.

Being out here has been really amazing. It has challenged my sense of self in more ways than I could imagine. Everyone is open and ready for whatever is next to come; I am so happy to be on A Watch, taking on these new challenges together as team.


Yours truly,
Clare

P.S Jess, I love and miss you. Mom, dad, Spencer, I love and miss you too. To all the family, friends, and loved ones of my fellow shipmates: you are loved and missed.

Oct

20

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: October 19, 2011
Current Position: 11 53.2 N X 130 6.5 W
Course & Speed: Current Course Ordered: 180 at 3.4 knots.
Sail Plan: Currently Sailing under the Storm Trysl, Mainstaysl, Forestaysl, Jib and JT.
Weather: Wind coming out of ExS at force 3, Seas ExS at 3 feet. Amazing weather out today!
Photo Caption: The sunrise from our compass, taken by yours truly.

Ahoy from the blue world,

Ryne here bringing you todays blog! Its been so amazing out here thus far, from the sunrise to well after sunset. Today has been a beautiful day, as many of them are. Weather was almost perfect if you neglect the later hours of the night. Sunblock and water were out today as the sun rose and stayed well in sight throughout the day. Its been a magnificent average of 29C today and about 3/8 cloud coverage.

Even on a day where it seemed like everything was calm and settled down nature had so much to offer. The best thing about being out here on the open seas is realizing how microscopic we are as humans in the big picture. So far I have only begun to scratch the surface to take in how big our world is. Being away from society’s trouble, facebook, drama, and all other negative life issues is one of the best feelings in the world.

As I sit out on bow watch late at night I begin to feel a sense of calmness, a sense of home and peacefulness. My mind is free to finally think over what has been happening, what the big picture is, and what I want to do with myself. Many people do not take time to just breathe. It is so easy to forget sometimes that we are in this world for a blink of an eye. Most of us choose to live a settled life with no adventure and no drive to experience something out of the ordinary. Sure we may have dreams to go out and live it big, explore, or reach for our dreams but how many of us actually do? As many get older they look back and wish they had gone out and reached for something extraordinary but by then it may seem to be too late. So why wait? Who says that you are too old to live a little? Go out and do what you have always dreamed of, do not get so caught up in your lives where you feel too busy or under too much pressure to go out and have a good time. You never know when you may be called home.

Im eighteen years old and I am already trying to plan big. I am sailing on the United States’ largest scientific sailing vessel across one of the least visited parts of our Earth. So far being out here I can say I have been able to experience multiple speechless sunrises and sunsets, ones that you just look at and cant even begin to explain its beauty. I can proudly say when I am older that when I was eighteen years old I sailed across the Pacific Ocean.

Make something of your lives, friends; go out and be that person that is immediately distinguishable. Make yourself known, show others that you are a leader, not a follower. Go out and live how you have always wanted to live, because I for one want to be able to be older and tell my grandchildren stories as they lay their heads down to rest that they will share and hopefully inspire others to go out and dream reality.

Your youngest sailor,
Ryne Beeding

P.S. Lots of love to the family, Mom, Dad, Zj, Colton, Biscuit, and Buddy. Miss you guys so much and I hope everything is going well! Skol Vikings! Special shout out to the Raports MC. W.H.M.F.T.W.D. To all my friends, miss you guys and I cant wait to hangout when I get back! Im sure you guys are just having so much fun blowing up my phone! Mom, don’t worry, because I know you, you’re freaking out, I’m more than fine and am having SUCH AN AMAZING TIME!!! Its so wonderful out here! Take care Friends and Family, MUCH LOVE! I will be home before you know it!

Oct

19

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 18 Oct 2011
Current Position:  13deg 7.26’N x 129deg 57.37W
Course & Speed:  course ordered and steered is 165 per ship’s compass, 6 knots
Sail Plan: Storm Trys’l, Mainstays’l, forestays’l, and jib
Weather: balmy and warm, no rain, winds force 5 from the East.  Seas 5ft.
Photo Caption:  Mama and Papa Winkle suited up and ready to take some oxygen out of solution.

Hello world!

Welcome to the wonderful world of winkling!  Winkling is, so far, my favorite thing to do in lab, not least because of the winkling gear we are required to wear.  Not only must we don our gloves and goggles, we must also select a hat from the lab’s stash of funny things.  My personal favorite is a lobster hat with dangly claws and googly eyes.  I can be seen wearing it in today’s picture, while Chad wears the money lei and sparkly baseball cap. Other options are another lobster hat, a false nose and moustache, and little yellow pigtails.

Winkling is the process of determining the concentration of dissolved oxygen in water.  You start by taking the oxygen out of solution with reagents 1 and 2.  Then you add reagent 3 which turns the water yellow. After that you get to use the winkling station, which involves all sorts of exciting cuvettes, titrations, and magnetic stirrers.  It is incredibly satisfying to watch your winkle water turn blue and then clear under the influence of various chemicals.

On a completely different note, we are now in Phase II of the trip, which is when the students start taking over various duties on watch.  Today C Watch set, struck, and furled the fish (a big sail that runs between our two masts) all on our own, with Jimmy calling the shots.  We also struck and furled the jib last night on mid watch with winds blowing force 5 and trying to make it fly right off the bowsprit.  We’re all starting to feel a little more comfortable with our jobs and duties, even though the schedule is still challenging.  We’ve mostly gotten our sea legs too, although I definitely still fall over a lot.  We all compare bruises, scrapes, and blisters with a certain pride.

Overall life on board has been going well.  The food is delicious, our hands are slowly getting used to the rope burn, and we’ve all more or less adjusted to getting sleep in three hour chunks.  The weather has been getting warmer and warmer as we approach the equator, which is both a blessing and a curse.  Some recent good things:  singing to the full moon on bow watch at night, playing cards (whist and golf), being assistant steward for a day, seeing a shark and a sea turtle. Not quite as good:  today I got stung by a baby Portuguese Man-o-war.  Yowch!  They are really pretty though.  A good catch in the Neuston net!

Lots of love to those at home.  Will, I wish you were here to share the bioluminescence with me.  The other night there were whole galaxies tumbling by in the water.

Sleepily yours,
Sunny, who has dawn watch much too soon

Oct

18

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 17 October 2011
Current Position: 1540.0N X 12935.5W
Course & Speed: 165psc,  6kts
Sail Plan: Sailing on a beam reach port tack, under the Storm Trysl, Main Staysl and Fore Staysl. 
Weather: Winds from ENE F4, seas from ExN 4 ft. Nav and sailing lights lit and burning bright.
Photo Caption: The view from our house.

Hello World-

Its a new experience for me to communicate through a blog and only twice in six weeks at that. There are so many wild things happening on the boat that I want to share with everyone, but here on the Seamans we have to remain focused. And focused we were this morning! We were cramming sample processes and chemical equations (that many of us English and Art majors don’t really understand) in preparation for our first lab practical. I would have written that it went well for everyone, except we were asked to label a vial of M&Ms from which nearly everyone ate while inside the lab. That’s a big no-no.

Testing aside, things are going really well out here in the middle of the ocean. We are well in to the second phase of the trip, which means that sail handling and deployments are becoming second nature. Our proud mates, scientists and deckhands are watching us grow into successful, knowledgeable young sailors and scientists…or at least they can tell were trying. With this progress, we get to deploy more exciting gear. Tonight were going to deploy our first Two-Meter Net, in which we hope to capture giant squid and mermaids. Were seeing a whole new variety of sea life down here in the tropics, which is both eye opening and really exciting for our research projects.

Along with varying sea life, the tropics have brought a stifling heat - and were only at 15N ! To put it in perspective, we are approximately at the same latitude as Barbados and Belize. Within the next week, we will be almost as far south as Bogota, Columbia. Needless to say, its hot in our cabins, and its only going to get hotter. As a result, were donning plenty of sunscreen and trying to keep up with water consumption: its a tough life out here at sea.

Well, everyone is healthy and all seem to be having a wonderfully challenging time. Were seeing a lot more birds than any of us expected, and were starting to see flying fish daily - whether they’re a school or flock out of water has yet to be determined to the satisfaction of the students. Josh Sorosky is convinced they’re a haremor maybe a prideour Chief Scientist has given up trying to correct him. Ive just been told that a sharks been spotted off our port side - nature calls! 

To all of our families and friends, we miss you and think of you often. To my growing family, I hope you’re all safe and well, and I love you so much. To those at CC - I hope you’re all having amazing falls, but really I hope you’re not having too much fun without me.  Cant wait to see each and every one of you.

All my seafaring love,
Katy Stetson

Oct

17

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 17 October 2011
Current Position: 15° 51.0’N x 129° 4.0’W
Course & Speed: 165 psc, about 4.5 knots under sail
Sail Plan: Jib, Forestays’l, Mainstays’l, and Storm Trys’l
Weather: Back in the North East trades; partly cloudy skies but still balmy
Photo Caption: Sunset in the tropics.

Greetings from S-237!

I want to apologize for forgetting to post last night, but all is well here. Although our days are always full of fun and exciting events, yesterday afternoon was especially excellent. We had our first Swizzle! A Swizzle is a special deck party with different themes, activities, etc. The name is derived from a Brazilian alcoholic drink, but here our customs have been slightly modified. We offer the first drink to Neptune, hoping for fair weather and winds, and then drink the rest! The theme for our Swizzle was twins;  all of the costumes were remarkable, considering the lack of resources on the boat. For a few hours our quarterdeck was overwhelmed with jorts, pop-stars, neon colors, and a lot of Swizzle. We were also lucky enough to experience some stellar talent! Although the talent show line-up was short, the talent was definitely off the charts!

Right now we are setting and striking sails, preparing for a Neuston Tow and Meter Net deployment. It seems like only yesterday that these concepts seemed so foreign, yet today upon walking the deck you would witness students running these deployments or initiating and executing sail-handling almost independently. Yeah Phase Two!! Everyone is cramming in homework and trying to soak up every ounce of sun possible; with two weeks down and three to go there is still so much more to do.

Anyway, for all of those who love us, we love you back. I hope that this finds everyone in good health, as we are flourishing here in the Tropics!

“I’m in love alright, with my crazy, beautiful life…” - Ke$ha

Keep it real!
Aisha Weinhold

Oct

16

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 15 October 2011
Current Position: 18° 36.5’N x 129° 35’W
Course & Speed: 165 psc, about 11 knots motoring
Sail Plan: Bare Poles
Weather: No wind and sunny skies with pleasant, clear evenings.
Photo Caption: Steve and I furling the fisherman with the rest of C Watch.
We have been doing a lot of furling lately due to the lack of wind and because we’ve been forced to motorsail for a few days.

Greetings,

I would like to inform all of our loyal landlubber-fans about some important but often overlooked aspects of life aboard the Robert C. Seamans: food and hygiene. The boat is very, very clean. The group on dawn watch, which rotates, cleans all the floors, showers and heads after watch. In addition to this daily cleaning, field day happens every week, during which time we scrub the boat from ceiling to floor. We also have a mandatory every-other-day shower policy. However, today some of us had a very interesting shower after the crew finished with field day. The first mate turned on the fire hose and stood on the laboratory roof while almost all of the students (in suits, of course!) showered under the salty spray on the deck below. The shower felt good after 2.5 hours of cleaning mung from the ship. Another great hygienic development: it’s warm enough for us to start doing laundry (by hand) and dry it on deck!

Food is wonderful on board, and we play a key role in deciding what we eat. All of the students get two days to serve as Assistant Steward. With the help of the two full-time Stewards, this jobs gives each of us two opportunities to plan and cook the three meals and two snacks for the day. Everyone seems to love their time as temporary Steward, and eating the surprise meals your shipmates cook up for you is a little exciting. I recently served as the Assistant and made a delicious baked mac n’ cheese; I also served flavored popped corn for afternoon snack, which was a big hit..

We are all starting to settle into routines and find ways to get rid of restlessness or fulfill the need for alone-time. The bowsprit and going aloft are two wonderful, relatively secluded locations. Finally, a group of five of us have started working out regularly on deck. We do strength and cardio exercises. How do we get cardio on a 134-foot ship? We jump around like fools in one place doing jumping jacks, high knees, burpies and other foolish repetitions. And then we do some strength, which looks a little less silly. Overall, the Robert C. Seamans feels much larger and longer than 134 feet.

Thinking of home,
Justine Cyr

P.S. Lots of love and hugs to Mom, Dad, Olivia, Erika, Liam, Fred and Sharon. UMPI ski team and friends: I hope all is well and good luck with training. I can’t wait to hit the rock wall when I return from Hawaii.

Oct

15

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 14 October 2011
Current Position: 21° 09.7’N x 129° 20.05’W
Course & Speed: 165 by ship’s compass, 8.0 knots motoring
Sail Plan: Backed forestays’l, mainstays’l, and storm trys’l
Weather: Semi-clear night, 5/8ths cloud coverage, wind SW x S Force 2, Swell NxW height of 4 feet
Photo Caption: Science makes yet another splash into the deep ocean as Greg Boyd heaves our first Argo float into the blue.

At the end of week two, the rolling of the ship has become a rocking cradle as the ocean waves sing the lullaby; it doesn’t take long for us to fall fast asleep. Boat checks, helm steering, weather reports, hourlies and wake ups have become second nature to most. On clear nights, almost every constellation can be recognized and pointed out to the eager students. But the end of week two brings one strange twist to keep students on their toes: phase two of the sea component has begun. This will include more responsibilities on deck and in the lab, shadowing the watch officers and beginning to understand what goes on in their heads and how to make sense of the unfamiliar. The coming days will transition the class into phase three, wherein we will take the reins of the watches. Remove the worried mask, class S-237 can handle such a task!

Onto our first Argo float deployment! The scientific instrument we set out today is just one of more than 3600 free drifting, profiling floats scattered through all the oceans. These floats profile the upper 2000m of the ocean continuously measuring temperature, salinity, and the current velocity. Every ten days the float will partially fill with water and sink to its desired depth, take the measurements and then float up to the surface where it will transmit the data to a satellite. It truly is a great honor to take part in a global research effort to better understand the oceans.

Here on board the SSV Robert C. Seamans the temperature is rising as we head closer to the equator. The crew enjoy the idea of the sitting out in the warm sun during the day and wearing shorts and short sleeve shirts during night watches. Deck showers are becoming more popular, with swimsuits of course. But there is one downfall for the increase in temperature: the ominous stench that fills the air. Is that the smell of the salty ocean? The salty air? Nope. It is the body-perfume of the salty brethren sleeping in the bunk above, and you don’t smell like a bouquet of flowers either. The cabins have been known to fill the nostrils with an odor even the best poker face cannot ignore. Tubas on deck are receiving more attention, finally facing into the wind in order to encourage a nice breeze to sweep below and push out the stale air. The privilege of showering every other day only does so much to the aroma of 32 crew members, and some of us have pushed laundry off to our very last stitch of clean drawers. But you still have to love the rolling of the ship, the friendships forming and becoming stronger, and yes the sweating of lines while sail handling during watch. As we show each other new blisters on our palms or scrapes and bruises from a fellow line sweater, we all grin with an almost disgusting satisfaction and agree “this is awesome.”

At the end of a watch I find myself looking toward the sunset, sunrise or star-lit sky and wonder how I will ever describe such a beautiful moment to my family when I return home. I then begin to think of my family, friends and other people who read this blog. How to put such an experience in words is truly a difficult task. All I can say is just wait for the stories that the students will tell. I’d like to tell my grandparents, Nana, parents, and siblings that I love them and can’t wait to start telling you about this exciting experience.

Peace of mind to all,
Chad

Oct

14

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 13 October 2011
Current Position: 22 17 N x 129 1.5 W
Course & Speed: 165 True, 8.3 kts with main engine and ~1 kt without.
Sail Plan: Storm trysl, main staysl, forestaysl
Weather: Clear and beautiful, force 1 NNE winds, swells 1 NNE
Photo Caption: Helmsman Chris makes his second blog appearance complete with a winning smile.

The ocean is very, very blue out here. The Atlantic off Nantucket (my home) can be gray blue, sometimes turquoise blue; Ive never seen near-shore waters approach this color. During science deployments when we’ve lowered instruments hundreds of meters deep, we have some time to breathe and stare at the water or the stars. On sunny days, you can see rays of light penetrating like a flashlight into the sky, and little polyps, eggsacks, and occasional pieces of plastic drifting by. Nighttime bow-watch, an hour- long shift as forward lookout, is also great: well occasionally see container ships but mostly its singing, stars, looking at the wake. We saw a number of dolphins nearer to the California coast, but none recently. They were unreal, lit from all sides with bioluminescence, and a stream of light behind them - a bioluminescent light year beyond those Navy dolphins in San Diego. We also see and sometimes catch mahi mahi, as Max mentioned. Seen beneath the surface, they are blue and glittering. They change colors as they die from blue to yellow and green and eventually to silvery grey. Watching this was painful, but Greg killed them quickly.

Kate, a deckhand, shared an excerpt from Harvey Oxenhorn’s Tuning the Rig: the point of training was to break down the habit of mind that makes exceptions and desires special treatment. To replace it with a habit of heart called unity we began to accept a code of service: of doing whatever you are doing well. Not because someone will check up or will reward you, but because the ships very functioning assumes that individual commitments be sustained in private for the public good. So much of the pressure on land is toward seeking loopholes in order to excel; at sea it is toward refusing them in order to belong.

Its inspiring to be around people who have chosen to be here, in a place where they might make less money but are working for something they love and believe in. Working with your hands forces a certain pride in your work - again, not because youll get recognition but because your craft is your art. For example, we did a number of sail handling exercises in class today: each watch struck, furled, and re-set the fisherman, jib topsl, and raffee. Our hands are burning. My watch was last on the jib topsl. After we hauled down the sail, we clambered out onto the bowsprit to furl it. There is a small line attached to the inner corner of the sail called the tack pennant. Its important to remember to furl this line and the sheets into the sail or well look like amateurs, as Jason put it, even though there’s no one else out here to see us.

Evidence of this pride is all over the ship. There is a small hand-carved wooden handle placed perfectly in a tight corner in the machinery room. There are two canvas bags hanging on the quarterdeck rails for holding water bottles, sunscreen, or an extra layer. They are sewn with leather cut into the shape of a sea turtle. At first, every time the ship took a big roll, Id wait for the sound of shattered glass and books tumbling off the shelves. It never came - everything is built and stowed perfectly. The galley stoves are rigged with adjustable stainless steel rods, or fiddles, that hold pots in place as the stewards cook.

I find the standard of quality very appealing. Its important to remember that the principle is ubiquitous not just for the sake of itself, but because life on a tall ship deals closely with the forces of wind and water, and thus with life or death. Its fun but deeply serious. We also have to keep in mind the use of our resources - not the least hot chocolate, which steward Chris has today been forced to ration because it was being consumed too quickly. Anything out of place, including smells, noises, or strange pools of water, must be noted. Today, I was assistant engineer for afternoon watch. We had to turn on the main engine because of the ridiculously calm conditions: force 1 winds and near glassy sea surface. We were hyper-conscious of every smell and sound during the first few minutes, since anything out of place could lead to a serious situation. A short aside: the diesel exhaust gets pumped through and out the top of the mainmast - so sweet!

In the end, though, the situation aboard a ship is not unlike our position on the planet. The ship is just smaller. Its an important lesson in both self-reliance and interdependence. I am very happy. This place requires focus and discipline, but there is a lot of laughter. Its very conducive to being present - its living the idea of be here now.

Love,
Justine

Love and light to everyone who might be minding this blog, but especially Mather & Faaaather, and to Toby (rock it!).
Liza, your letter was perfect. Thank you so much. Cant wait to play.

Oct

13

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 12 Oct 2011
Current Position: 24° 54.5’ x 129° 18.5΄
Course & Speed: 178° True at 6 knots
Sail Plan: Storm Trys’l, Mainstays’l, Course, Jib,
Weather: A gorgeous sunny day
Photo Caption: C Watch climbs aloft. Credit: Maximilian


Today we affixed the second Mahi Mahi tail to the bowsprit, set the fishing line and were still attaching the line to the stern when a fish struck. Unfortunately this one got away but left us the lure. Attaching the Mahi Mahi tail with natural fiber line to the bow is a sign of respect to the fish and allows the tail to return to the sea when the Mahi Mahi accepts our respect. The sky was clear during the day and Jason decided that the class’ deck skills had progressed enough to set more sail. We set our highest sail, the raffee, and the fisherman, a sail that sits between our two masts. There were many willing hands to the lines and the sails were hoisted with a real sense of community onboard. It seemed as if everyone were on watch today. When C Watch climbed the foremast shrouds, Jimmy looked around and jokingly asked of the view ” Where is all the land?” We are over 900 miles from San Diego and about a third of our trip is already behind us.

Classwork has arrived in the form of celestial navigation assignments, science deployment sketches and engineering systems presentations. The Seamans has been working our bodies into sailing form these past few days and stands to test our mental agility over the next few weeks. Our sleep schedules are less focused on days and more centered on hours until our next watch and what we can accomplish in between.

Elsewhere onboard the fresh fruit on deck, especially the bananas, is taking a beating from constant rolling and salt spray. The very capable stewards and their student assistants are filling our diet with cut fruit and smoothies and banana bread and apple muffins. There is one more watermelon hiding in amongst the newspaper-wrapped produce in the reefer. We get three fully stocked meals a day and two solid snacks, not including anything on the highboy, a shelf in the main saloon that gets the little that doesn’t get eaten. If you stand a night watch there is a snack also provided to hold you over until morning. Tonight’s midnight snack is cinnamon-raisin bread, baked fresh by our baker-steward Chris. With people sleeping and waking at all odds hours of the day the many meals are necessary to keep everyone running physically.

Well, its back to sleep soon for I have dawn watch, which runs from 0300-0700. Here’s hello to the Spielmann brothers and their proud parents and my friends, all of you very far from this corner of the Pacific. I am eating well and having a great time here and working hard.

Fully-bearded now and sailing on,
Maximilian

Oct

12

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 11 Oct 2011
Current Position: 25° 59.2’ x 129° 21.0΄
Course & Speed: 180° True at 6 knts
Sail Plan: Storm Trys’l, Mainstays’l, Course, Jib
Weather: We’re going south!
Photo Caption: Photo from aloft on the foremast spreader. Credit: Dana (A-team)

Today we had our first emergency drill since we left the dock in San Diego. We simulated a fire in the machinery room and Engineer Jimmy and chief mate Colleen were the first to the hypothetical scene, dousing the imaginary fire with the extinguishers they never actually had to use. The rest of the ship’s company scrambled about on deck: A watch manning the fire hoses, B watch on the sails, and C watch on lookout and in the dog house making pretend distress calls. We struck the square sails and played with the fire hoses a bit before running one down the forward ladder and into the saloon for practice cooling the sole above the machinery space. Just as the hose was pulled out and the non-existent fire suppressed, it blazed out of control and we were forced to simulate preparing to abandon ship. We moved to the rescue boats and distributed rescue gear.

I’m pretty confident in a rescue drill, mostly because A watch gets the steward in our rescue boat. Today, he (Chris) had the presence of mind to grab a handful of celery from the snack plate before running the rescue boat. So at least we’ll eat well.

For all the safety-questioning mothers out there, this is ship is equipped with more safety gear that I can count. Actually I can count it, but only because we have to memorize it all. But the point is, in case of an emergency, we have three 25-person life rafts that launch automatically in case of boat sinkage as well as a super fast motored small boat. Each is equipped with an automated Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, emergency space food, a dive light, a first aid kit, fig newtons, extra water, and a deck of cards. And each of us have a full body, warm life-jacketesque jumpsuit with a whistle, reflectors, and pillow (which doubles as a head support in the water). And that’s only the half of it. There are a million more emergency related things that I don’t have room to mention. The moral of the story is that we feel safe out here. You should feel safe having us out here. We have the best crew under the best captain sailing an over-safe ship. The most dangerous thing out here a baby squid we caught yesterday who is now dead preserved in formalin and ready for my project.

Anyway, this is long enough already. In other news, it was cloudy today, which is too bad, because it’s a full moon tonight. But we are heading due south now into warmer waters. Other than that, the chicken alfredo was phenomenal, thanks to the galley staff and assistant steward-of-the-day Brendan. I’m glad we’re all safe from the nonexistent fire and here to sail another day. Until next time goodbye from A watch and the rest of the ship’s company.

Josh

P.s. I love you Kelsey and miss you like crazy, happy belated 5 months. And to Jess from Clare, happy 3 years (ouch, one upped). To the family, hope SoCal is treating you well and the move went smoothly (oh, and someone call Jesse and wish him a happy birthday for me.)

Oct

11

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 10 October 2011
Current Position: 27° 22.8’ N x 128° 51.8’ W acquired from DR position at 2000
Course & Speed:  C/O 220° C/S 230°  at 3.7 knots
Sail Plan:  We are currently sailing under the Storm Trys’l, the Mainstays’l, the Forestays’l and the Jib
Weather: Wind: N, Force 3. Waves N, height 4 ft. 8/8 clouds: stratus and stratocumulus. Temperature is 20.5°C.
Photo Caption:  Max using a sextant to get a sun sight.

Today has been an eventful day. During our 1430 class we finally discovered Jason’s London story and we were given lessons on how to use the sextants to get a sight off of the sun. These sun sights are used to get a general idea of where we are in the ocean and by taking another sighting a few hours later we can find our exact location in longitude and latitude. I found that it was pretty difficult to find the sun with the sextant and then follow the sun down to the horizon to get the sight and was only able to get one sighting marked in the time we had allotted for class.

Over the course of the cruise, we have had to complete a learning checklist before we would be able to go aloft and also before we can progress into the Phase 2 portion of our trip. Phase 2 is when we will be taking on more responsibilities around the ship, both in science and on deck. Crazy enough, the turnover is “scheduled” for this Thursday. The checklist consisted of knowing what the procedures for fire and man over board are, where all the fire extinguishers are located on the boat, how to box the compass, what the lookout point system is, what safety measures are in the engine room and how to do an engine check properly, and we had to be able to steer well at the helm. We’ve been working really these past few days to get the checklist complete and Aisha was able to get her fire extinguisher locations checked off today. To go aloft, the entire watch group has to get everything on the list checked off and A watch, being the first to have all their group checked off on the list, where allowed to go aloft today and they are the first group to do so. While they were aloft, Clare spotted a group of whales in the distance. We all came out to try and get a glimpse of them. The most we were able to see were the water spouts and the backs of them. We tried to steer towards them and catch up, but they disappeared too quickly.

We are all super tired and trying to get a handle on the time schedule and work, but it has been pretty great when what we are learning finally clicks.

Cheers from the Robert C. Seamans class S237!

Tara C. Haney

P.S. The galley has been feeding us super well with tons of great food.

P.P.S. Here’s a shout-out to my family: Brandy, Lindsay, Mom, Dad, Cindy, and Oscar - Missing you guys! (Hauling lines is such a workout, as well as steering the boat. When I come back, I’m going to have so many calluses. Crazy. And I think I’m finally getting my sea legs, which is awesome. I have tripped over the stairs so very many times and bruised up my legs. Oh, and I definitely got seasick. It was so bad that first night we were sailing but I drank tons of water to help and I haven’t been seasick since.)

Oct

10

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 9 October 2011
Current Position: 28° 15.7’ N x 127° 38.9’ W
Course & Speed:  225° per ship’s compass at 5 knots
Sail Plan:  Storm Trys’l, Mainstays’l, and Forestays’l
Weather: Winds a force 4 from NxE, swell 4ft from NxW, and 19.5 °C
Photo Caption:  Greg, one of the Assistant Scientists, holding the first of two Mahi Mahi fish that were caught today.  They made a fantastic dinner!

It’s hard to believe that we have been on the ship for a week already.  In some ways it feels like the time has flown by and just yesterday we were all oohing and ahhing as we walked up to the ship with our bags in San Diego. However, on the flip side, the thought of dry stable land is such a foreign idea - we haven’t even seen it in 5 days - that it feels we must have been out here for much longer. 

We are all quickly becoming more accustomed to life aboard the ship. There is a lot less stumbling around on the deck as we all get our sea legs underneath us, and the watch schedule is starting to feel more normal. 

Sundays are sort of a slow day on the ship: there is no class and no field day, which makes the afternoon watch from 1300 to 1900 seem longer than ever.  Today it was broken up with some excitement created by our first catch on the fishing line - a 37 inche Mahi Mahi, which provided great fish fillets for dinner.  We recast the line with a piece of meat from the fish. A few hours later we had another, even larger fish on the line.  Closer to 45 inches in length, it was significantly larger than the first.  We decided that the first one was large enough for dinner tonight, so the second was filleted and saved for another day. 

That’s most of the excitement for today; time to get some sleep before my next watch.

A tired but happy sailor,
Steve

p.s.  A quick shoutout to my friends and family - miss you guys.

Oct

09

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: October 8, 2011
Current Position: 29N x 126.5W
Course & Speed: 240 PSC at 5 knots
Sail Plan: Tops’l, Course, Jib, Main Stays’l and Storm Trys’l
Weather: Partly cloudy skies, northerly F4 winds, moderate temperatures
Photo Caption: Chris, Jimmy and Max, ready for Field Day.

Sponges, toothbrushes, squeegees, and jorts greeted us for S-237’s very first field day!! When I first anxiously opened the operations manual in early August, I saw the heading “Field Day.”  This streamed excitement through my body as I imagined three-legged races and egg tosses.  Much to my dismay, as I continued reading, I discovered that field day really meant the day all hands clean the entire ship. every Saturday.  All hands met on the quarterdeck at 1430 and watched as Katy, Mackenzie and Kelsey sang the “P-A-R-T-Y” song and demonstrated how the tools we would be using in a matter of minutes would rid the corners of the lurking gross dirt (Jimmy O, Greg and Chris).  Each watch was assigned a station to clean until it sparkled.  A watch took the Galley (and made it spotless using our adrenaline from winning the line chase yesterday and after having the “sleep of kings” last night), B watch cleaned everything forward of the main salon, and C watch worked on everything aft of the main salon.  B watch first helped A watch get everything out of the galley, including the mats on the floor that weight close to 1,000 lbs each, by fire-line. Luckily, all cleaning got done in a very timely fashion as some of the boys chose jorts that allowed a wide range of motion, making them almost undefeatable to any grime they may encounter.  All in all, first field day was a success and was a ton of fun, to our surprise!  Looking forward to next Saturday’s field day and what interesting outfits may appear because of it. 

As for learning and stuff, two new sails were set today!  We accomplished setting the Course and the Storm Trys’l today.  The course was set in the early afternoon and required a lot of sweating from A watch (sweating is a way to make sure the line is as tight as possible, but the other kind of sweating was definitely present as well).  The Storm Trys’l was set in anticipation of the science station we will be conducting tonight during mid-watch.  We struck the Mains’l today and later replaced it with the Storm Trys’l because it is smaller and easier to handle when the science station requires us to gybe.

Everyone is in higher spirits these days as the temperature is noticeably increasing degree by degree.  We are all anxious to start heading south and wear less clothing.  The weather started out “super” nice this morning with the sun shining and the sea birds (whatever they were) chirping.  As the day continued clouds began rolling in, but the temperature was still warmer than day 1.  Lot of layers are still required for evening, mid, and dawn watches, but morning and afternoon watches are starting to become warmer and warmer.

That’s all for now, no class tomorrow! What on earth will tomorrow’s blogge write about.

The anxious-to-see-warmer-weather-blogger-of-the-day,
Dana

P.S. Mom & Dad, 334 ladies, M, Jer and Cookie - love and miss you guys like crazy.
P.S.S Mom, please sign me up for Weight Watchers so I can start immediately when I get home.  Don’t worry about us getting fed here.

Oct

08

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: October 7, 2011
Current Position: 29° 56.59’ N x 124° 23.58’ W
Course & Speed: 220° ordered, going 6.0 knots
Sail Plan: 3 lowers and 1 upper set (reefed mains’l, main stays’l, fore stays’l, and tops’l) 
Weather: Force 4 to 5 winds from the NW, 8-12 foot waves from the NNW
Photo Caption:  The members of A watch, led by Miss Katy Stetson, celebrate their victory in the line chase with the final card, “the conga line.”

Hello friends, family, and SEA stalkers,

Friday brought us another beautiful day of motor-less sailing on the Pacific Ocean.  Despite cold mid and dawn watches, the sun came up (as always) and delivered some much sought after warmth.  Bands of cumulus clouds rolled in and out all day, but we never had to deal with the squalls of previous days. Nevertheless, developing hurricanes and tropical storms to the south, as well as some serious squalls off the Aleutian Islands, brought some big swells our direction.  But don’t worry parents, the storms to the south are expected to make landfall southeast of us, and our esteemed Captain Jason Quilter is making every effort to ensure we will remain well to the northwest.  Unfortunately, every day we travel west instead of south means a diminishing chance of reaching the equator.  Fortunately for me, this means a steadily increasing chance of not having to shave my head of its lovely locks (a tradition for sailors who cross the equator).

As Jimmy mentioned yesterday, today was the semi-annual Bobby C. (Robert C. Seamans) line chase.  Students spent the past few days walking the deck and vigorously studying the seemingly countless lines that control the sails. Moments before the race began, Chief Mate Colleen laid out the rules as follows.  It would be a relay style race with no running and no talking, except the commands “warmer” and “colder.”  Anyone caught running would be forced to crab walk until he or she located the line and returned to tag in their teammate on the quarterdeck.  Much to my dismay, none of the participants were reduced to the crab walk.  Cards labeled with certain lines would be pulled and the first watch group to clear their deck would win. 

While Jimmy claimed C watch as the obvious favorite, they appeared sluggishfrom the start.  One can only imagine that they were drained from dawn watch, despite hours of studying their lines.  Both A and B watches got off to great starts, but B watch fell behind as a couple members hesitated to locate proper lines.  B and C watches fell into similarly slow rhythms, and A watch began to break away.  Throughout the race, certain watch members tested their “pickup lines” as that surprise card surfaced.  C watch came to a screeching halt as Jimmy repeatedly attempted to woo Assistant Scientist Katy (apparently, “do you come here often?” doesn’t qualify as a pickup line).  Ultimately, the unwavering A watch won the line chase with a couple of minutes to spare.  And thank goodness for that; we all know how much Katy Stetson hates to lose!  They celebrated their victory with the final card, the “conga line.”  B and C watches finished shortly thereafter, simultaneously pulling the final card and tying for second place.  After the race, all of the students were rewarded with the opportunity to set a new sail, and our first square sail, the tops’l.

As of right now, the clock reads 2040 and C watch is on deck and tending to the lab.  About an hour ago, they pulled out the sextants and took the first star sights of the trip.  Earlier in the evening, Justine Paradis took the first sun line (and sextant measurement) of the trip, and I did the first pre-computation of stars in order to supply C watch with the seven stars to shoot tonight.  Other highlights of the day included steward of the day Steve’s delicious pizza and Josh’s hilariously southern take on MC of the day’s class.  Until tomorrow…

Your resident SEA Phishhead,
Christopher Broderick Klein

P.S. A quick hello to Mom, Dad, Jen, Monkey, grandparents, friends, and the beautiful state of Colorado!  I miss you all dearly and think of you all too often!

Oct

07

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: October 6, 2011
Current Position: 30° 55.8’ N x 122° 32.6’W
Course & Speed: 230° ordered, going 6.5 knots
Sail Plan: 4 lower sails set (reef, main stays’l, fore stays’l, and jib) 
Weather: Force 4 to 5 winds, 10 foot waves
Photo Caption:  Helmsman Chris Klein aptly steers the Robert C. Seamans into International Waters.

Hey world,

Today was another great day of Pacific sailing.  Some foul weather in the morning gave way as morning watch came on and everyone enjoyed clear skies and sunshine for the rest of the day.  The great weather cumulated in a fantastic sunset over the endless horizon.  Strong winds continue to come from the northwest kicking up some big swells (up to 14 feet at sunset). During class time (1430-1600) we were able to practice some sail handling and gybing, performing a huge, hour long 720° in the open ocean.  We finally made it 200 miles off the coast, which puts us out of the EEZ and into international waters.  Soon we will start heading south towards the equator and warmer weather.

We haven’t seen any more glowing dolphins kicking up bioluminescence and we were not buzzed by anymore fighter jets, but today was great because everyone was much more in tune with the sailing life.  Watches, wakeups, science, and meals are going smoothly all hours of the day and night.  We are getting used to the constant rolling and rocking (this keyboard will not stop moving).  Also, we are becoming accustomed to squeezing in sleep whenever we can.  Yet the little sleep is countered by amazing food.  Big thanks to Clare, the assistant steward of the day, for some delicious hummus during our second snack today. 

Tomorrow is the big line race.  All three watches have been memorizing the dozens of lines that control the 9 sails of the ship and we will be competing to identify them tomorrow.  While C watch is the clear favorite, it should be a fun race. 

It is 2030 right now.  A watch is on watch, keeping track of the deck and lab, and cleaning the galley.  B watch is catching up on sleep.  C watch is playing cards, working on their lab projects, and writing the blog post. The watch cycle repeats itself over and over, keeping us all working but enjoying the experience.  After 4 days we are all getting used to the many things we have to do and community effort that is needed to get us to Hawaii.

Thanks for reading, we miss you all!

Esteemed blogger of the day,
Jimmy

P.S. to Mom, Dad, Amy, the whole Campbell family (congrats Lauren and Adam), and BC friends: thinking of you all while having a great time out here.

Oct

06

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: Wednesday October 5th, 2011
Current Position: 31° 46.7’ N x 120° 56.2’ W
Course & Speed: Course Ordered is 230, with the current speed 6 kts
Sail Plan: Main sail (1 reef), main stay sail, fore stay sail, and jib
Weather: force 4 winds, no rain, 3 ft waves.
Photo Caption: Image from the port side of the quarter deck, looking at the main sail, main stay sail and the fore stay sail.

Today another meter net tow and neuston tow were deployed, this time simultaneously. Once again some crazy things were brought aboard. Last night two viper fish and today a pyrosome were found, now living in the aquarium in the science lab.

The winds have not been in our favor today; coming from the North West they have made it difficult for us to maneuver with a safe distance from the Mexican EEZ. While on watch, we sail handled the boat from a port tack to a starboard tack, and still had to engage the engine in order to make our course ordered. During all this we sailed into some rainy areas, and we all got to put on our fun foul weather gear (foulies). After moving north much of the day, we are finally able to turn the engine off and sail at 6 knots in a favorable direction - the ship is so quiet now.

So far it has been a lot to take in, no shore line to be seen, endless oceans, and a whole new world to learn from lines and sails to tacks and gybes. It’s hard to believes it’s only been a couple days.

The home sick traveler,
Clare

P.S. to Jess (<3), Will, Kelsey, Toby, we miss you.

Oct

05

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 4 October 2011
Current Position: 31° 54.56? N x 119° 25.33? W
Course&  Speed: 240° PSC, 6.9 kts
Sail Plan: Motorsailing at 1400 RPM under single reefed main, staysails, and jib
Weather: Wind WNW F3, 7/8 cloud cover (Cumulous, Altostratus),Temperature=18°C, Barometer=1014.6

Photo Caption: A watch recovers the free CTD shortly before turnover.  The CTD is lowered through the water column while it records data on salinity, temperature, depth, and (in this case) chlorophyll-a florescence.  This was the first deployment of the voyage.

Hello again from the high seas.

We’ve been motor sailing most of the day (and are doing so again tonight) in order to make enough miles west to turn south and avoid the Mexican Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) while avoiding some potentially windier weather that might be headed our way.  Notable events from the past 48 hours include: setting sail from San Diego under staysails and main engine, the first series of night watches underway, raising the new mainsail for the first time, being buzzed by five military aircraft, the first class, and the first deployments.  Overnight, many people got seasick, including some, like myself, who did not expect to. All are thankfully feeling much better today!

Today we deployed a free CTD, the hydrocast, and performed a neuston tow and a surface station.  Planned for tonight are a meter net tow and another neuston tow with surface station.  The lab is a buzz of activity as we struggle to get everyone?s projects going.  Talking about which, projects range from incubation of plastic samples in the lab to analyses of the phytoplankton ratios at the deep chlorophyll maximum.  Many of them depend heavily on data collected from the neuston tows.  Though we?re stumbling through everything now, we?re learning quickly.

More later,
Brendan

Oct

03

S237 Ocean Exploration

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Date: Sunday, October 02, 2011
Current Position: Nimitz Marine Facility, San Diego, Docked.
Sail Plan: Sails furled, since we are docked.
Weather: Lovely weather, warm, slight haze, light breeze
Photo Caption: The Seamans at dock, with some eager students waiting to board.

Hello world!  Welcome to the SEA Semester S237 blog.  This first post comes to you after a long day for all of us.  We’ve tried to absorb so much information it feels like our brains might explode any minute now, and this is just the beginning!  We’ve already been taught how to check the ship,which we’ll be doing every hour, deploy scientific equipment, which we’ll do twice a day, and flush a toilet (head) which is very important.

When we arrived at the dock we milled around oohing and ahhing at the ship,which is both larger and smaller than I expected.  On the one hand, it’s quite big, with masts I’m not sure I could get my arms around, and three levels not counting the deck.  On the other hand, everything is so close together that I am constantly afraid of tripping, or knocking something important over.  Once we start rolling and heeling on the open ocean, I imagine that my balance will be sorely tried.  I’ve already been going downstairs backwards, just in case.

Once we actually got on board, we began orientation, meeting the crew and finding our bunks.  The bunks are like little caves.  They’re very narrow,and designed to fit exactly one person.  I guess sailors can’t be claustrophobic!  My favorite fun fact about the ship: before the students came on board, the crew spent three days moving over 16,000 pounds of food onto the ship.  There are nets filled with grapefruits, oranges, and bananas strung up all over the deck, and some of the spare bunks are filled with jars and cans of food.  I found one bunk entirely taken over by pickles.

Space is very important on the ship, and everything belongs somewhere very specific.  Corridors are narrow, and in places like the engine room, where there are usually only one or two people at a time, there is barely room to crouch your way along a catwalk.  I am entirely intimidated by the engineering side of sailing, though I’m sure I will learn.  There are so many gauges!  Why is it that learning to check fifteen or twenty gauges is more scary than memorizing the names and uses of every single line on the whole ship?  My first mystery.

Now we’ve been well fed and watered, moved in, settled down a little, and it is definitely time for bed.  Jet lag demands an early night, and breakfast is at 0700 tomorrow morning.  Adieu dear readers, until the morrow, when new adventures await!

Lots of love from S237 to family and friends.  (Hi Moms, hi Dads!)
Sunny, First Poster Extraordinaire

P.S.  Spread the word about this blog to friends!  Most of us forgot to tell anyone but family about it in the hustle and bustle of leaving.  Will, Jess,Kelsey, Toby, we miss you.