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Sea Education Association | SEA Currents

SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans


Oct

10

Smooth Sailing

Sierra Schmitz, B-watch, American University
SPICE

Whale watching from the bow!

Current Position
Approaching Tongatapu Island group

Ship’s Heading & Speed
163°T at 4.5 knots

Weather
Light clouds above the horizon with otherwise very clear skies

Souls on Board

SEA Stories Podcast

We have once again lost sight of land and are somewhere sailing in the South Pacific ocean. The only thing that we can see are the clouds passing by with an occasional whale tail flopping out of the water during the day, and countless shooting stars at night. We are underway, heading south to our second destination in Tonga, Nuku’alofa where we will dock for a few days. We are transiting from the Ha`apai island group, to the Tongatapu island group.

Last night on evening watch (1900-0100) I stood on the bow serving as lookout, debating whether to glance at the cloudless sky  above me with the Milky Way arching very clearly overhead and the large and small Magellanic clouds (other galaxies!!!!!) or the bioluminescence lighting up the ocean below me. I of course was mainly looking for any weather systems, lights, boats, or sights of land as per the job description of bow watch. I saw stars that I never imagined existed and have begun to try and remember constellations to use wonders of the night sky to sail.

This surreal evening of feeling so small under thousands of stars was followed today by fire and man overboard drills. As we will often find ourselves hundreds of miles away from any land and braving the great open seas, we must all, crew and students alike, be aware and prepared for any situation that may come our way. As our captain always says, “you can’t live in the ocean,” so we practice and follow plans and procedures that make it so in any situation, we won’t have to try and live in the ocean.

Later today on my afternoon watch (1300-1900) we set the fisherman’s sail for the first time on our cruise track! The fisherman’s sail is one of the Seamans’ eight sails, and is one of its two upper sails. It sits high above the four lower sails that are usually set allowing us to make good speed on the smooth waters of Tonga. Following the “fish” theme, we were treated with sushi for our afternoon snack that was made with mahimahi that we caught this morning.

As we await to spot land again, happy birthday Mom from somewhere in the South Pacific!

- Sierra
 

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