SEA Currents: Pacific Reef Expedition
We have accomplished something special here at sea onboard this ship the Robert C. Seamans. A group of strangers that worked together as a team to observe, document, and finally to understand the effects of the strongest El Niño on record on central Pacific reefs.
So what have we learned?
Dear Shore & Co.,
As we cruise along these Pacific waters, there are a variety of very important systems on the good ship Robert C. Seamans that makes this voyage considerably more pleasant than it would be otherwise. This is the realm of Engineering, and it is a hot and sweaty place involving diesel engines, a wide variety of pumps, plenty of plumbing, a few dank smells, and more wires than you would ever dream of shaking a stick at. The operating engineer, Mickey, and his assistant, myself, spend our days managing these systems and keeping them running in good order.
As we approach the Hawaiian Islands, spirits are high in anticipation of our first tall, volcanic islands since Tahiti disappeared astern four weeks ago. Elaborate calculations are being performed in secret, as various members of the ship’s company try to pin down exactly when we might be able to see the heights of Mauna Loa peaking above the northern horizon. Others are excited about the prospect of experiencing the smell of the islands-Hawaii’s ongoing volcanic activity can be sensed on the breeze as the NE trade winds carry remnants of volcanic ash and gases out to sea.
Imagine this. It’s four in the morning, and you’re standing on the deck of a sailboat hurling north through the Pacific. A series of squalls off the bow drown out the guiding light of stars, and the bow of the ship is repeatedly thrown around by monstrous waves so strong that even the roof hatches are shut to keep the waves out. You’d hope whoever was in charge of the ship that night was an expert sailor, and not a 19-year-old boy with three weeks of sailing experience. Somehow though, last night I was that boy.
Hello all. Lauren the steward here. I left dinner prep in Siobhan’s competent hands to come tell the outside world not to worry, we are all eating more than we should. If by some bad luck or oversleeping accident you miss a meal, never fear, the next one is only 3 hours away.
Today marks the beginning of our JWO/JLO phase. While some of you might be wondering what Jennifer Lopez has to do with sailing, JWO and JLO stand for Junior Watch Officer and Junior Lab Officer. This final phase of our trip marks our taking on more responsibility and stepping into the roles we have watched our mates and scientists excellently perform. While our expert staff will still be there to correct mistakes before they ultimately occur, they will no longer direct us step by step, and they expect us to come up with a plan and execute it.
alutations from the lab of the Robert C. Seamans! Abby here, and super excited to share the goings on of the ship today! It’s been an incredible journey from the South Pacific, through all of the equatorial currents, and now we’re fast approaching the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre! The weather is moving away from the sunny skies that we’re accustomed to and heading towards dark and squally horizons as we creep closer to the ITCZ.
A gust of wind whips my hair like a great tumbleweed as my brain does double time to accept the fact that I’m standing - actually standing – on the deck of the SSV Robert C. Seamans, a vessel I have only dreamed of experiencing over the last few years. It is nighttime, and a strange darkness I’ve never seen before is in its final moments of settling in for the night.
“It’s an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to sea √ whether it is to set sail or to watch it √ we are going back from whence we came.” - JFK
Today was a unique experience aboard the Robert C. Seamans because we had two groups of high school students from Kiritimati Island visit the ship. They did some sail handling and checked out some creatures that we’d caught in the neuston net through the microscopes.
Christmas really is the most wonderful time of year, and my time in Christmas Island has definitely been some of the most wonderful of 2016. Having started my voyage with SEA Semester in New Zealand with class S265, I have quite a few nautical miles under my metaphorical belt, including quite a few from bumming around Tahiti. Seeing Christmas Island as we made anchor yesterday, however, I was blown away by its beauty.