SEA Currents: Ocean Exploration
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.
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.
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).
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.
After a brief stint in Napier, most of us were surprisingly relieved to return home to the boat and get underway. Though land has its perks (Netflix and espresso in particular), the routine of the boat is comforting and allows ample time for appreciating the beauty around us.
Yesterday, as many of the ship’s company sat enjoying our regular Poetry Time, we were treated to a spectacular sunset, a full moon rising under a pink glow, and dolphins leaping in our wake all at the same time.
Cruisin’ on down Main Street, you’re relaxin’, feelin’ good. Next thing that you know you see an octopus in your neighborhood!
As the trip is winding down, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I would sum up this experience to my friends and family. Really, its a pretty familiar story: A small group of students in a non-conventional learning environment (focused on science) traveling to exotic locations in what often feels like a magical vessel. Yes, I am making a Magic School Bus reference. Honestly though, it is a very appropriate analogy.
“In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we
understand and we will understand only what we are taught.” —Baba Dioum
Today was another “land day” for the students and crew of the Bobby C. We jumped off the ship at 0745 this morning and onto the waiting bus for a winding ride through the bucolic New Zealand countryside.
We saw actual kiwis today! Our second day in port was off to a fantastic start with a visit to the National Aquarium of New Zealand-a convenient 20 minute walk from the port. Contrary to popular belief, kiwis are not tiny birds-they are chicken-sized. Lorna’s fun fact is that kiwis technically have the shortest beak of all bird species because the length of the beak is measured from the nostrils. We also saw the highly-anticipated feeding of the penguins, frightening spiny lobsters, and a huge sea turtle.
Kia Ora from Napier! We are finally on land after three weeks of deep water sailing.
It is a little overwhelming. The Brigantine doesn’t rock too much, the ocean sounds different and you can walk on land. It is funny how you can get used to water in three short weeks and they say we are not made to live in the ocean. When we got dropped off at the dock gate, everyone ran to the black pebbly beach. Maybe it was a sense of freedom or maybe it was just our remedy to withdrawal from the sea.