SEA Currents: Mar 2014
It’s great to have a clean ship and to be underway again, and with Lily here, everything feels more complete and together. Every day I realize more and more the amazing reality of life aboard the ship: although compartmentalized into watches, tasks, standing orders and projects, the sum of our efforts is incredible. Here we are, moving in our floating home across the biggest, bluest ocean I have ever seen! Sometimes I look over during a task and just feel so lucky to live in the most strikingly beautiful place right now (see picture of last night’s crazy sunset for proof).
Last night’s swizzle was a great way to spend our final evening in Rangiroa, and we all gathered on the quarterdeck for a variety of festivities. After honoring Neptune, we appreciated the rare opportunity to relax and spend time with those on other watch schedules. Once Nikesh brought out his guitar, there was plenty of music and singing until a bit of passing rain sent most people down into their bunks to grab a few hours of sleep before starting their anchor watch shifts.
While the sea may be our home for the moment, there’s always value in a little vacation time. As the hot sun began its slow trek across the sky above us, S-252 was released to explore the beautiful nearby island of Avatoru, a small islet of Rangiroa Atoll. Armed with our notebooks, water bottles, and enough sunscreen to protect the entire population of French Polynesia, we aimed to continue researching our Atlas Entry topics. Helped along by the friendly locals, we completed this task with gusto!
There is no better way to end the 0300-0700 Dawn Watch than by watching the sun rise on the horizon while inhaling the scent of freshly baked cinnamon rolls. This morning, as A Watch prepared to turnover the watch and enjoy the delicious breakfast that awaited us, we got to watch the sun light up Rangiroa, our first port stop. We caught our first glimpse of the atoll last night, and then waited until this morning, when the current was right and everyone was awake, to motor sail through the entrance of the lagoon. We passed between two sandy, palm-tree lined beaches, and were greeted with our first dolphin sighting, which only a few were lucky enough to witness.
Today was a blast! I got to cook in the galley today with our awesome steward Nina! It was a really cool experience because I actually got to plan out the meals; it wasn’t like Nina was dictating what I had to make. She really cared about what food I like to cook and my ideas. And as always, the food was amazing! Like Captain Doug says, “it’s either really good or great!”
Today our class assignment was a “Creature Feature,” which was a continuation of a shore component assignment.
I always heard that time flies by when you’re on the boat, but somehow I still feel like I’m experiencing every minute as it passes. It took some time to get used to the world rocking around me, but fortunately it already feels so much more normal than I ever could have imagined. I am getting used to leaning hard into the sink and bracing my feet out as I brush my teeth and walking around at night without lights on deck, to repeating commands back with minimal snickering at nautical terminology, and to being sweaty 98% of the time.
We are heading toward the equator! We are all getting used to life at sea, including things like gimbaled tables and seeing the sun in the north. This morning A Watch had the dawn watch; after coming on deck in a drizzle, with complete cloud cover, the sky gradually cleared so that before dawn we saw the Southern Cross as well as several other stars that are new to us. We enjoyed a beautiful sunrise while continuing with boat check, bow watch, and steering at the helm as well as continuing our orientation to the science lab.
Just a few short hours ago, we made our way with all hands on deck into Christiansted Harbor escorted by dolphins playing in our bow wake. The securing of the Corwith Cramers dock lines to the pier in Gallows Bay marks the end of our six-week journey that began in a former maritime center of the Spanish Caribbean and continued on to three former English sugar island colonies before we cleared back into United States waters in St. John.
The long anticipated day finally is here. Sailing day! But; there is still some education and training before we get underway.
The students were ashore for the morning conducting interviews and having conversations with local residents as part of their course work to learn about the customs and culture of Tahitians. One of them interviewed a local fisherman and came away with quite a bit of information regarding the politics and jurisdiction of the Tahitian fishing industry. Tuna fishing is very important to the local economy. They also had a last shopping opportunity at the local market area. Most of them purchased a pair of loose fitting and colorful pants at a local store. They look very comfortable and perfect for this climate.
Last full night on board and underway! As the ship(and us) is headed south to St. Croix, students and staff alike are soaking up every last bit of sailing that they can before we dock. As Emily touched upon, these last few days have been a great reflection period for all involved. Last night was the famous Swizzle party, which was a barrel of laughs to say the least. All had the chance to get up and perform something of their choice.