SEA Currents: Pacific Reef Expedition
Well this has been a crazy journey, so much has happened over these last two weeks. Yesterday June 5th, marked our halfway point of the trip. Knowing this is wicked (I’m such a New Englander) exciting, but very bittersweet. I feel as if I have come such a long way in such a short time because of this experience. Coinciding with the halfway point on our calendar is the geographic mid-point in our sailing journey, Christmas (Kiritimati) Island; neatly situated about 1300 nm from both Hawaii and Tahiti.
The event we have all been waiting for finally occurred: we officially crossed the equator. Before we crossed, us pollywogs (non-equator crossers) had to be initiated by King Neptune in order to become official shellbacks (someone who has crossed the equator on a sailboat). The staff who were already shellbacks dressed up in interesting costumes including body paint, masks, and hats, while the pollywog professional staff was blindfolded.
Ahoy from the realm of King Neptune! Today for Field Day we were visited by His Majesty’s messengers who so kindly informed us that dirty ships were not permitted to cross the equator, and with our arrival to this magical line quickly approaching we shipmates got down to work making the Bobby C. spotless. Every last inch was scrubbed clean, top to bottom.
I started this morning off a bit early with a wake up at about 0045, our watch started at 0100 and continued through till 0700. During watch I was assigned to lab, one of my favorite jobs on the ship, with Hannah. In lab we did a large variety of tasks, we processed the previous watches Neuston tow and discovered a large spike in biovolume(we later learned it was due to equatorial upwelling caused by Ekman transport and the coriolis effect), We also measured the pH, chlorophyll-a concentration, and the PO4 concentration of our sea surface sample.
When we were young we were probably all caught thinking of what life would be like if we were a pirate. Maybe one year we dressed up as one for Halloween, or went on the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride at Disney. However, one does not truly know the life of a pirate until you live as one. So far my journey on the SSV Robert C. Seamans has taught me many things about adjusting to life at sea.
Wow what an adventure this has been. I feel as though everyone is well on the way to becoming true mariners. I can confidently say that I have never learned so much so quickly and actually felt as though the information was being retained. A large part of the day was spent hastily learning knots and lines, as part of our phase one objectives list. Knots that I now know include the bowline, figure-eight, reef knot, a double sheet bend, a rolling hitch, and a round turn & two half hitches.
Hello to friends and family far away! Last night at 19:00 the crew of the Robert C. Seamans “Heave Ho’d” together to set the main’sl and begin the next leg of our journey en route to Kiritimati Island. Yesterday, we spent the day snorkeling at Karoraina conducting reef surveys. Students broke into pairs to focus on inverts, coral, and fish within the ecosystem. Although impossible to ignore evidence of bleaching, the reef was magnificent.
Today the crew of the Robert C. Seamans had the privilege of snorkeling one of the most remote and least seldom visited reefs in the Pacific, the fore reef of Caroline/Karoraina Island. From what I understand, the island is a protected area in Kiribati, and I can absolutely see why!
This entire journey so far has been such a blast. First off, I have been getting used to our watch schedules which are used to determine who will be up for every part of the day. From our watches I have learned that I am sleeping way too much at home then i should be. I get so much work done before the sun starts to rise over the horizon. Our steward is also such an awesome cook. I eat just as well as i do at home, and she surprises us each night.
Last night was a momentous occasion. For the first time on this trip we set the full stack, and were zipping along without motoring. Within a few hours of departing our anchorage at Rangirora the students set the forestays’l and mainstays’l, set the tops’l, set the raffee, struck the forestays’l, set the course, and set the mains’l. Being the diligent students they are, there was hardly a misstep as we set more sails than we have had all trip.