SEA Currents: Feb 2014
Here we are, a month into our trip, the calendar about to switch over to March, and the SSV Robert C. Seamans about to arrive at our next port stop of Mangareva. I have been trying to get aboard for SPICE ever since my last visit to Polynesia on an Oceans and Climate trip over two years ago. This trip has been very different from that one, and most of the trips I’ve done, as there are many more port stops.
After spending about two days ashore in beautiful Antigua it is sad to say goodbye but it is good to get back to the routine of watch schedules, class, meals, etc. My time spent in Antigua was filled with exploration of Falmouth Harbor and St. Johns and much time spent at Pigeon Beach. This peaceful beach was pretty unpopulated and overlooked the harbor where many incredible yachts were anchored. Some of these boats just finishing up a 600 mile race. I met many wonderful people from places such as New Zealand, England, Brazil and more.
Ahoy and greetings from the South Pacific!
During our long transit to our next port stop, Mangareva, we have begun the shadowing phase of our trip, where students shadow the mate of their watch and learn how to lead sail handling maneuvers, organize tasks that need to be completed on watch, and get a glimpse into the jobs and duties of the mates that work here at SEA.
In Antigua, the busy season is from the beginning of January to the first week of May. Sailing races and the arrival of yachts of all sizes keep the harbors full while cruise ships bring thousands of tourists to see everything from the scenic beaches to historic sites left over from the British Colonial era. The resident population doubles, triples or quadruples in size as people from Antigua or other Caribbean islands hope to find work in the services sector of Antiguas economy. However, a combination of inflated prices and the seasonality of work make life very complicated for many Antiguans.
Hey yall out there! Were cruising along south and enjoying the groove of life at sea. Its been fun and a bit nostalgic to sail this trip, as my introduction to sailing was as a student on the SPICE voyage three years ago. I was bitten by the boat bug and dreamed of coming back to SEA to work as an Assistant Scientist. I‘ve been working on boats ever since and sailing with SEA in that role since this fall.
Today was adventure day! The wonderful crew of the Corwith Cramer cared for her while the students took a trip to the other side of the Antigua from Falmouth Harbor to the port town of St. John, where the massive cruise ships dock, and tourists are plentiful. There was a juxtaposition of deteriorating buildings with small market shops and the area immediately available to cruise ship patrons, a brick street lined with common brands such as Sunglass Hut and Timberland shoes.
We motored under staysails all night to arrive this morning at 0700 at a waypoint three miles off of the entrance to Falmouth Harbor. We had adjusted our course and speed to arrive at first light to a place so few of us have been. We stood in for the anchorage and let go the starboard hook at 0756. Ever since then we have been on anchor watches which are shorter and less strenuous than regular sea watches but are very important never the less. Anchors are funny things and they can grab hold or not as they choose.
Prior to beginning this trip, I often got the questions, How big is the ship? And HOW many people will be living on it? Naturally, many people were curious what living in such a small community and living space on the Seamans would be like. I too was somewhat challenged by the notion, fearful of how difficult it would be to be living so close to so many people for forty-four days.
To say this trip is anything less than extraordinary would be a huge understatement. When I think ahead to the unfortunate time when this is all over, and how I could even possibly begin to describe this experience to anyone, I cannot come up with words to express it. From day one, we wasted no time getting right into the swing of things, having to not only learn, but also get 100% acquainted with a completely newest of nautical vocabulary. However, as time went on, the daily tasks and chores, which there is no shortage of, no longer seemed like a to-do list.
Its Monday 11.21 AM and I just realized that is my turn to write something on the blog. For me, it a real challenge to transcript my feelings in English because I’m the French guy of the ship. I’m going to try but don’t laugh.
First, the team S251 is very nice. Students enjoy the life on the boat. We can see it on their eyes when they are on the land, speaking with local people, testing new fruits, taking a ride.