SEA Currents: The Global Ocean: New Zealand
Good morning land dwellers!
The residents of Robert C. Seamans have lots to report as we start to fall into the rhythm of life at sea and are beginning to find our sea legs. It was looking pretty rocky for a while as the leeward side (lower side of the boat) seemed to be constantly crowded with seasick-plagued sailors, the “fish feeding club”. Our Oceans and Global Change professor, Kerry, comforted us by saying we were “feeding the microbial loop”. Ginger themed snacks and constant reminders to stay hydrated are commonly topics these days.
Hello from the open ocean!
It’s official, there is no land in sight. Just us and blue and gray for miles and miles, plus the occasional NZ Navy helicopter or the fancy cruise ship or 180-meter cargo on our radar. But, if we’re being honest, amidst lots of throwing up and a (literally) bumpy adjustment to life underway, S-276 forgot to write the blog yesterday. So, reader, travel back in time with me to Monday, November 20, 2017 at 1430 South Pacific time.
Today is our last day at anchor before we set out for a three week sail to the Kermedec Islands and back! Both students and crew are taking advantage of land while we still can, heading ashore in groups to stretch our legs, buy back-up stocks of toothpaste, and explore the quaint town of Russell. Meanwhile, Conservation and Management students are looking for local Kiwis to interview. Our class has focused on studying the use of single-use plastics in the States, particularly Falmouth, Mass.
Today was our second day anchored off of Russell and we took a field trip to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. Many of us wore full yellow foul weather gear to stay dry in the rain, which resulted in many confused looks and inquiries as to why we were dressed like banana slugs.
C Watch was woken up at 0030 and advised to wear their foul weather gear. While crawling out of bed and fumbling to get dressed as quietly as possible, as to not let slip the precious moments of sleep from our bunkmates, we prepared for our third watch while under way. The rain was barely above a drizzle but the wind reminded us that we were on a ship. The only visible landmarks were silhouettes of far islands and a lighthouse flashing far off port side. The excitement of standing at the helm and staring forward past the sails and into the darkness of the early morning is something that I will never get tired of.
Our first full day at sea! Waking up to a gorgeous sunrise at anchor this morning, we set the sails and continued towards Russell. Throughout the day, we’ve been rotating watches focusing on applying all of our newfound skills in navigating, plotting courses, and catnaps. Around 1400, all hands gathered for our first actual class of the voyage. We discussed our current position (roughly 60 nautical miles North of Auckland), sail plan, and weather forecast before diving into sail handling 2.0.
Bon Voyage, land!
We started my day with breakfast then chores. My watch was in charge of scrubbing the deck (I’ve been calling it the poop deck until someone tells me that it is not the poop deck). After chores we were released to do our independent study. Caleb, Will, and my project for Sense of Place, are to observe and document the taskscape of Mount Eden, Auckland’s tallest dormant volcanoes.
After a night spent rotating through night watches for the first time, we woke bright and early for breakfast and emergency situation trainings. We rotated through fire, man overboard, and abandon ship practices and succeeded in rescuing Gilbert, our rugby ball, from a cold dip. Around 11, despite the drizzle, we set off for the Auckland War Memorial Museum. After exploring Albert Park, the University of Auckland, and the Auckland Domain, and learning some of their history, we were set loose to roam the museum.
The first real day aboard the Robert C. Seamans unfurled before us like a jib (definition impending). We woke, we ate, we leapt right into the life of salty doggery that we’ll be living for the next six weeks. We rotated by watches (students divided into teams to both guide and monitor the ship throughout all hours of the day/night), each of which learned a smorgasbord of tasks, including jib furling (the ship’s front-most sail), various science-gear deployment and the nuanced art of deck scrubbing.
Today the eager students of S-276 boarded the Student Sailing Vessel Robert C. Seamans docked in busy downtown Auckland, New Zealand. Welcomed by equally enthusiastic staff and faculty, the students stowed their bags, made their bunks, and began their lives as crew and members of this sea-going learning community.