SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
Alongside, Lyttleton, NZ
Winds N x E Force 2, Temp. 13C, Skies Overcast
You enter Lyttleton Harbor through a deep slot in the tan brushy hills of the Banks Peninsula, on New Zealand's South Island. This was all a volcano once, and now the flooded crater reaches inland as a series of long sheltered bays. We're just short of halfway to the south pole. That's a latitude similar to Boston, but with no continents nearby, the feeling is different. There's a lot of motion in the sky here, with the hilltops alternately visible and obscured by folding patches of cloud. It's possible to feel several seasons' worth of weather roll by in an hour-bolts of warm sunshine, blasts of sharp wind, sudden sprinkles of rain from some non-vertical direction.
It can be hard to choose an outfit to wear.
We arrived yesterday, and picked up a pilot to take us the last six miles. We're a small vessel for this requirement but the inner harbor at Lyttleton is compact and busy, with ship movements carefully controlled by the port authority. Viewed from our dock, the village wraps around the harbor rim in a steep grid of streets with the port at the bottom putting on a nonstop show of maritime activity-Swinging cranes and convoys of trucks waiting to unload the fertilizer ships. Outsize woodpiles of timber with tiny locomotives idling by on train sidings. There are a lot of flashing yellow lights, and everyone you meet is friendly and wearing a hard-hat.
Our final 36 hours have been a time for squaring the ship away, getting things clean and finishing up the last few items remaining among the great array of academic projects that have made up the curriculum. It's also been a chance to decompress, and allow everyone to reflect a bit on what they've accomplished as a crew and a community before it's time to say goodbye and move on. We've had a great voyage, characterized by hard work and a tremendous contribution of humor, flexibility, and insight from everyone who's joined the ship.
Thank you, and safe travels to the students and staff of S-271! I'll look forward to the time when our paths cross again. It's safe to say that those at home can look forward to a great round of stories as various sailors come home to share their experiences. And thanks also to everyone ashore who's been a part of making this voyage happen the way it has-- From the families of our remarkable students to the great team at SEA Semester, who are there on the radio every day to give the ships whatever they need.