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Voyages

SSV Robert C. Seamans Blog

Position information is updated on a workday basis only.

Aug

11

S248a Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

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Sunday, 11 August 2013
Current Position: 33° 27’N x 118° 29’W
Course & Speed: Toward Catalina at around 9 knots
Sail Plan: Sailing under engine power and the mainstays’l
Weather: Sunny & Clear

Photo Caption:  Discovering treasures found in the kelp around Santa Barbara Island

Last night we anchored in a marine sanctuary by Santa Barbara Island where sea lions and elephant seals surrounded our boat. During our watch later that evening, we followed the sea lions with a spotlight and stargazed. The sea lions’ playful antics and adorable actions while swimming around our boat kept us entertained through the relatively warm night. During the day today, the 11th, there was a whole boat cleanup, covering almost every imaginable surface excluding the bilge. We got lucky and the weather was warm, mostly sunny, and balmy and all stayed warm during our continued interaction with the sea lions. While we were all cleaning in the morning, the whole crew went out six at a time on the emergency boat on forays to go closer to the island than we could get with the Seamans. The excursions were amazing, floating among the small, giant kelp forest, peering down more than fifty feet to the bottom; the clearness of the water was astounding. On the shore we could see the families of sea lions playing, and everyone was awed by the sheer adorable-ness of the baby sea lions on shore. At one point a sea lion came right up to the little boat we were in and stared at us open mouthed. One of the people riding in my group of six was sorely tempted to jump in the water just to swim and “cuddle” with it. Around ten o’clock we bid a sad farewell to Santa Barbara and its cute inhabitants, and motor sailed away to continue our cleanup, and head towards our final destination of Santa Catalina. We have been sailing smoothly with only a few miles ahead of us until we reach out anchor destination off the island. Tonight we are planning a swizzle (a small boat party of entertainment for those of you who aren’t familiar with boat lingo) and we should have a fun night ahead as the students’ final night aboard the Robert C. Seamans. As of now, the sun is shining and we are smoothly sailing, preparing for our final hours on board.

Micah Adams
Student Sailor
C Watch

Aug

10

S248a Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

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Saturday, 10 August 2013
Current Position: 33° 28.356’ N x 119° 01.503’ W
Course & Speed: Anchored
Sail Plan: Anchored
Weather: Sunny with partial cloud cover, wind blowing out of the WSW at about 8 knots with a calm sea state

Photo Caption: Science presentations

Today is our seventh day in S248A trip. We have anchored on the east side of Santa Barbara Island where sea lions, harbor seals, and elephant seals line the shore. Standing on deck you can hear barking in the distance and see the sea lions swimming. Today was presentation day for the watches. Each watch was assigned a topic about our trip and the data we gathered from our superstation deployments and net deployments. A watch reported on Biological Oceanography, B watch reported on Chemical Factors that Influence Biology, and C watch reported on the Physical Aspects of the Ocean. Being able to see all the data we collected and comparing it was interesting and shed new light into my knowledge of the California Coast specifics. It was rewarding to see all of our hard work pay off.

As a part of C watch, I was on dawn watch this morning (03:00-07:00). Coming out early in the morning and watching the beautiful star filled sky slowly give way to the sunrise is beautiful to watch. There is no better feeling in the world than to spend your days and nights on a ship, especially the Robert C. Seamans. Being able to look around with no land in sight is surreal. I have always told my mom that I wanted to know what it would feel like to be on the ocean and not see land. I have waited my entire life to experience this, and it is better than I ever imagined.

I boarded this ship feeling nervous and unsure what to expect, now with only two days left, I am confident and feel that this ship is a part of me. Being a sailor, I love the feeling of wind on my face and the smell of salt in the air, but I have never experienced it this way. Standing night watch and gazing up at the stars is a wonderful feeling. Before I stepped foot on this ship, I had only ever seen two shooting stars. My shooting star total is now up in the thirties. I relish the times where I am fortunate to stand as forward lookout at night and enjoy the thousands of stars that spread across the sky.

I have enjoyed every part of this trip. From scrubbing the soles to standing at the helm this trip has been a trip of a lifetime. I wish this trip could last longer and I could spend another several weeks on this ship. I have learned so many different lessons ranging from science to how to sleep on irregular hours to how to set the many sails on this vessel to how to dump food trash over the rail. I will just have to wait three more years at which point I will be eligible to do an entire SEA Semester. For now, I will savor my last few hours aboard this vessel.

I would like to send a shout-out back home to my parents in Coronado, CA. Thank you for giving me this fantastic opportunity to broaden my horizons, literally! I miss you tons and cannot wait to tell you all the amazing stories I have. Mom, I hope your classroom is all set up and you are enjoying your last few days before the new school years begins. Dad, I hope work is going well and you and Mom are enjoying yourselves. I will see you soon! Aunt Kathy and Uncle Joe, I am very excited to fill you in on all my adventures! Aunt Meschelle and Uncle Walter, I will call you upon my return!

Lastly, to my good friend Alyssa, I hope your drive across country to VA is going well. I will miss you tons in Nado and it will not be the same, but I know you will enjoy your new home in Alexandria. I will visit soon! I hope your move goes well, and I will talk to you soon!

It is hard to express how incredible of a trip this is, but I can honestly say that this has been one of the best experiences of my life. I will never forget my voyage on the SSV Robert C. Seamans, and I hope for another one in the near future.

D’amy Steward
C-Watch

Aug

08

S248a Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

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Thursday, 08 August 2013
Current Position: 34° 02’ N x 119° 23’ W
Course & Speed: 055°, 4kts
Sail Plan: Staysls & Topsl
Weather: Clear skies, breezy, moderate swells

Photo Caption:  Tay processing sediment from the So. CA Bight Shipek grab

Today we finally made our way away from the cold waters that come down from the Bering Sea that make up the California current. Once we rounded Pt. Conception and came into the bight the sky cleared and the fog dissipated, the temperature rose and the shorts came out. As we crossed the Santa Barbara Channel and neared the Channel Islands we began to feel refreshed by the sight of land. The sight of land after even a few days at sea, as well as the presence of so many different species of birds, was wonderful. It was nice to be able to completely turn of the main engine and use the strong winds to carry us at a speed of 8 knots. Being here is also special because this is the first time in a few years that SEA vessel has had permission to sail in this unique area. So, all-in-all, its been a pretty amazing day on the Robert C. Seamans (which was only made better by pizza night).

Bryce Gillespie & Zeke King Phillips
B Watch

Aug

07

S248a Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

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Wednesday, 07 Aug 2013
Current Position: 34° 39’ N x 121° 31’W
Course & Speed: 173° making 4.5 kts
Sail Plan: Sailing under Main Stays’l, For Stays’l, Jib
Weather: Winds force 4, WNW. Clear sky with bright stars speckled.

Photo Caption: Erika, Maddie, Micah, and Elle fit into the two meter net before setting it 450 meters deep!

I started off my day very early with a 2:40am wake up to get all my warm layers on for my 3:00-7:00 watch. My watch began with my taking of the helm and steering our ship on course. I have struggled to get the hang of turning the wheel the correct number of turns while keeping us on track, but I was happy to find that it is much easier to have control while motor sailing. After being relieved from helm, I walked to the bow of the boat and took my position as forward lookout. Accompanied by some dolphins, I spent the next hour observing the calm seas and keeping an eye out for any traffic. I got lucky with this timing because my fellow crew member Maddie faced the rain and strong winds at forward lookout just an hour later! Later that day, after taking a nice nap in the morning, I prepared a weather report for class. I spent time learning about the different pressure systems and dissected the different symbols on the weather reports we printed. During class we reviewed the rope and sail names for our line competition tomorrow. I have been looking at the different names of the ropes for a couple days now and have decided that this new vocab is harder than the material I had to study while learning Spanish, so I have a lot of reviewing to do later tonight in order to make sure that my group wins the competition!

I am now in my second watch of the day and am positioned in the lab with Maddie, Micah and our scientist Julia. We just deployed a 2 meter net! As we put it in the water, we watched as it glowed from the bioluminescence. We are eagerly waiting to take up the net shortly so we can see what we catch. While we wait to take up the net, we are winkling some of our samples from our earlier deployment of the carousel. I have loved the constant hands on experimentation that has been happening in the lab-everyday there are more data to be interpreted. We are heading for the Southern California Bight and tomorrow is my watch’s superstation. I can’t wait!

Elle Blake
C Watch

Aug

06

S248a Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

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Tuesday, 06 Aug 13
Current Position: 35° 10.3’N x 122° 11.1’W
Course & Speed: 173° PSC making 7kts
Sail Plan: Motorsailing under the four lowers
Weather: Winds Force 3, WNW. Overcast, occasional stars peeking through!

Photo Caption: Students getting excited for Winkler Titrations for dissolved oxygen!

When I first woke up I banged my head on the deadlight covering my port hole and yelled ouch!  I was then shushed by my fellow crew saying that there are still people sleeping.  As I got ready for Dawn Watch, I strapped on my red and yellow harness and climbed the aft stairs, entered the doghouse (control room), and declared my name and that I was on deck.  I yawned quietly and was hopeful with an air of certainty that this watch was going to be really fun.  One hour later I’m shivering my butt off as I make my way from the bow to the stern on the windward side of the boat.  Maybe I was wrong.  Maybe this is not going to be a good watch, but after steering and preparing a jibe, I realized that sailing is actually a lot of fun, if you forget the odd sleep patterns and the cold during the night watches, and that this past watch was loads of fun. 

After lunch, Ben Hall, the Chief Mate, taught Em (a fellow crew member) and I about the weather and about high and low pressure systems.  We then gave the weather forecast for the next 24 hours during class time on the quarter deck.  The next watch that I was going to stand was the Evening Watch and I was ecstatic for it.  And here I am, writing a blog entry during the Evening Watch.  For the past 3.5 hours, I’ve been working in the lab and winkling dissolved oxygen samples to measure the dissolved oxygen.  This is a very demanding task that takes a very long time and requires great patience and steady hands.  Early on I also saw a pod of finback whales moving North and a lone humpback whale that fluked.  Ugh!  I wish I had brought my camera so I could snap a shot of that beautiful sight. In the past 1hr, my watch along with the science team deployed the meter net attached the pig.  Although my watch is coming to an end and a good night’s sleep is nigh, I hope the morning comes fast so I can get back on my next watch which is the Morning Watch.  I just can’t wait (so excited!!!!!). 

Julian Maheu
A-Watch

Aug

06

S248a Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

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Tuesday, 06 Aug 13
Current Position: 36° 51.0’ N x 122° 17.5’ N
Course & Speed: 090°, 7kts
Sail Plan: Four Lowers
Weather: Cloudy, damp, no stars in the sky BUT lots of bioluminescence!

Photo Caption:  Setting Sail

This evening C watch had mid watch, which occurred from 2300-0300. We were separated into two groups- a science group and a deck group. I was a part of the science section where we used the neuston net to capture some
bioluminescent creatures. After leaving the net in the water for a half an hour we brought it back on deck and after playing with the bioluminescence by moving the net and watching it glow, we looked at the creatures we captured. First we saw the pulsating bioluminescent creatures in the dark bucket. After questioning why the plankton shine Julia informed us that although there are many theories, one possible answer could be because the plankton are in a bucket with possible predators and the light gives the illusion that the plankton are much larger than they actually are. After inspecting the bucket in the dark we lit the bucket with our flashlight and found tons of lantern fish and a huge Medusa jellyfish. After looking at the creatures in the bucket we moved to the bow of the ship to find tons of swimming dolphins which we could see because of the bioluminescence. We reported back to the lab to measure the extracted chlorophyll-a from the phytoplankton we caught in a bucket water sample.

Madeline Hickey
Student

Aug

05

S248a Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

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Monday, 05 August 2013
Current Position: 37°17.0’N x 122°50.9’W
Course & Speed:  160° PSC Speed: 8.1 kts
Sail Plan: Motor sailing under the four lowers
Weather: Foggy Delight

Photo Caption:  B-Watch in their Pre-Departure Emergency Training Gear

Sails have been set, tables are gimbaled, harnesses are snug, Science has commenced, food is being consumed, and we are well on our way. After two days of orientation and becoming accustomed to shipboard life we have hauled back the anchor and set course for southern California.  Over the next week students will be immersed in line handling, deploying scientific equipment, learning ship talk, identifying sea critters, teaching and learning from all the members of the crew.

During the short time since students boarded we have been lucky enough to spot a large number of mega fauna such as humpback whales,porpoises, sea lions, dolphins and many birds. This morning A watch deployed the neuston net and collected many surface dwelling organisms. Over all it has been an exciting morning filled with sailing, science, and sightings.

Please stay tuned for daily updates from the ship’s company as we sail through the dynamic ocean environment of the California coast.

-Becky Slattery
Alumni S-242
Assistant Steward

Aug

02

S248a Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

Friday 02 August 2013

The students of S-248a are scheduled to board the Robert C Seamans by Saturday August 3rd and will finish their voyage around Monday August 12th.