SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
5° 57.592’ S x 169° 17.903’ W
International waters north of Tokelau EEZ just East of PIPA (Phoenix Islands Protected Area) southeastern edge;
Ship’s Heading & Speed
Sailing at 6 knots at course ordered 000°
Four lower sails set and sailing north
Wind is 20 knots with seas 5 to 7 feet; Partly cloudy day with a couple minor scattered storms at a temperature hanging around 30°C
According to Captain Nolan, every sea-story should begin with “There I was….”
There I was…standing on the starboard edge of the quarterdeck, I was overtaken by a surging feeling of immense smallness looking out at the ocean at night, surrounded on all sides by the huge expanse of the central Pacific with a magnificent tapestry of stars. I can see why this trip allows students-turned-crew to have impeccable moments of reflection as there is nothing like the constant roar of the ocean, the roll of the boat, and a gap in watch duties at that night hour to invoke introspection. This particular moment occurred just three nights ago during a grueling dawn watch, which has drilled into me a greater appreciation for not only ocean voyages of the past but the courageous and incredible research being done by SEA and by other oceanographic researchers.
After stripping away your traditional sleep schedule, adding schoolwork, and cranking up responsibilities for Phase 2 (when students take shadow roles of ship officers) of sailing operations through perpetually rotating six-hour watches, each crew member is left with themselves without distraction or preoccupation, feeling psychologically and physically worn. But while these same moments create a mental illustration of pure exhaustion, they actually provide unparalleled opportunities of reflection. Whether that means pondering personal struggles such as life purpose or particular societal problems like water sustainability, the time during the ship component of the course ushers in not just a great workload and increasing responsibility for ship functions, but also time to ask oneself more difficult questions.
Above all else at sea, I am grateful for these reflective times as such opportunities come rarely during the crushing speed of routine life. This same opportunity to look inward dominates each crewmember’s life aboard the Seamans, making my experience just one of many.
Lastly, before signing off, I want to wish my Mom a Happy Birthday! I owe to my Mom and Dad everything and I want them to know that not only am I thinking of you, but I am deeply appreciative for the unconditional love and support you give. Additionally, I want to thank Drs. April and Malcolm Hill, who inspired me to go on this trip. Furthermore, this crew and faculty are indispensible in formulating such a rich experience. Lastly, and most definitely not least, I want to thank my family (Ben, Donna, and Charlotte) and Victoria who were absolutely integral in supporting me in not only my place here on this boat but also in my incredibly lucky position in life.