SEA Currents: Dec 2016
Karen Merritt, public health educator, street photographer and SEA Semester alumna (W-98), has been selected to receive this year’s Armin E. Elsaesser Fellowship award. Karen plans to use the award to investigate and document the “invisible history” of 16th and 17th century mercury and silver mining in Spain and Mexico, which she describes as one of the “longest continuous maritime transport endeavors in history.”
About the Award
Established in 1987 in memory of Armin E. Elsaesser III, master mariner, educator and adventurer, who taught Maritime Studies at SEA Semester and sailed as crew aboard the SSV Westward, the fellowship provides an opportunity for recipients to follow a dream that has been elusive because of the demands of work or study. Fellowship winners actively investigate a marine or maritime subject of personal interest. Projects must be unrelated to their current professional activities and reflect a creative and independent approach to the pursuit of knowledge. SEA alumni, faculty, staff, former employees and crew are eligible. Awards range from $3,000 to $7,000.
It was another day in paradise on board the Robert C. Seamans. We were all gifted a little extra sleep last night. The watches rotated back to their original mate and scientist watch officers to stand our last rotations of 9 mile watches. We hauled back the anchor in Waiti Bay, motoring 27 miles over the 3 watches, to our current anchorage SSE of Stanley Point. The coastline was stunning along this transit. A pod of dolphins swam with us for some time.
The evening air is drenched in sweet tunes pouring from the lips and fingers of our talented crew as students and staff alike swing about the science deck, yet again, entrenched in a jovial contra dance. The dancing and giggling is only briefly and occasionally interrupted by the dregs of a hilariously long game of “mafia” and for short sips of secret recipe swizzle juice and cookies.
This story is inspired by a journal entry by a spatula… A.K.A Mr. Spatchy
I woke up in the morning with a big smile in my face, thinking of all the hard work to come. I started cleaning what I heard was called Puerto Rican scrambled eggs with coconut bread that smelled really good from the Galley cavern. It was pretty interesting looking from upside down at two giants that were having fun mixing and crafting in their magic caldera a wonderful treat that I had to eventually clean.
We spent the night settled in a quiet anchorage in Waiti Bay, on the south east edge of Waiheke Island, the northern limit of Waiheke channel. With four shots of chain out on the port anchor and a mild breeze from the Northwest, we all slept soundly while those who stood anchor watch on deck kept an eye the ship.
It’s the assistant steward here! (for those of you who don’t know, every day a new student gets to assist our steward/goddess Morgan in the galley, so technically the assistant steward could be anyone….anyways, it’s Kayla talking to you right now) I’m sitting in the main saloon watching everyone enjoy the pest-faux pasta Morgan and I just whipped up. You’re probably thinking “what’s this pest-faux pasta?
A little less than a month ago, I wrote for the daily S-270 blog commenting on how students had spent their first week aboard the Seamans. Now, the students have less than half a week until their voyage officially ends back in Auckland this coming Wednesday. Obviously, if readers have been keeping up with our blog updates, a lot has happened between November 21st and December 18th.
There are a few questions one does not expect to ask when stationed at lookout; “Is that a volcano?” is one of them. Yet I asked it at about 0600 this morning, and the response was a definitive yes. Just after sunrise the white cloud of steam rising broad on the port bow heralded our imminent arrival at Whakaari, also known as White Island. The white plume stood out markedly against the blue morning sky, a lone cloud standing out from its breathren stretched out astern of the Seamans to indicate where we had left the North Island behind (the Land of the Long White Cloud was aptly named).
Three days left. Just three days to absorb every last drop we can squeeze out of this incredible, inspiring, life-altering journey. I want to remember it all, afraid to blink, not wanting to let a single moment pass. After speaking with my family during our time in Dominica, I found it difficult to put into words all that I have experienced over the last five weeks. “What was your favorite thing on the boat?” they asked.
As we make our way up the coast of the North Island, I’m continually amazed with the sights of the coastline here in New Zealand. The geology is amazing! And we are right now in the heart of it all – spectacular cliff escarpments… volcanic mountain ranges (see picture-to-scale for reference)… uplifted strata… evidence of a landmass undergoing some serious tectonic strains and active geological processes.