SEA Currents: port stops
Cold Fronts and Home Fronts
I am very proud of my shipmates.
Yesterday, we wrapped up our student “Final Mission” in which the students of C-271 took complete ownership of vessel operations in order to meet a divers set of scientific, cultural, and nautical goals. At 1430 yesterday, we heard the final mission report from each watch’s delegate, and I speak for all of the faculty when I say we found that the students did a terrific job operating the vessel and articulating their achievements. Not only did they meet their objectives, but they worked together across all watches to complete the mission as one team. It was great.
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.
Time at Sea
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since sailing, it is that time is undefinable. Hours of watches meld into one another, days bleed into weeks; you blink and the semester is over. How can that possibly be? The sun rises, sets, and the stars set in as night comes as it does every day, and yet time seems to slip away in our ship’s wake faster than on land.
Fifth Time’s a Charm
Our final day in Wellington shaped up to be, for many of us, one of the best. People woke up still gushing about the film we saw last night, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. To anyone at home looking for a movie recommendation, definitely look into it. The movie was particularly endearing to A-Watch as it featured haikus which have somehow become our main form of communication. Anyways, today, after free time this morning, our flock took the cable car up to the Botanic Gardens to visit the meteorologists at Met Weather. They taught us some basic weather concepts and gave the play-by-play of the past couple weeks’ worth of weather.
Snapshots of Cuba
What an eye-opening, colorful, vibrant few days we have had exploring Santiago de Cuba. Yesterday evening, I spent several hours on anchor watch, staring out at the full moon rising over the Sierra Maestra Mountains that surround the city. My mind was full of the smells, sounds, images, and interactions of the day and I found myself reflecting on just how fortunate we are to have spent time in Cuba.
Wellington: The Sequel
Well, we’re back to the city of windy Wellington after 24 hours with some crazy waves. What better way to start off being at port again than cleaning the ship, so we kicked off today with field day. We all swept and scrubbed and scraped our designated areas of the ship until it was shining clean. We then had a fire drill before sitting down to a couple of hours of study hall. Some of us had procrastinated with our projects when we were docked here the first time and promptly forgot how it felt to try and do work when were underway.
This morning, both students and crew were dragged out of bed for what felt like an even earlier wakeup than usual (thanks a lot daylight savings time) in order to head out for our second day of adventures in Santiago de Cuba.
Many of us stayed out later than usual last night since liberty didn’t expire until 0000 (although I was snug in my bunk well before that), but despite being sleep deprived, we were all eager for another day in this strange, intriguing place.
Our journey along the NZ coast has been shaped by the diverse perspectives, aspirations and experiences of SEA Semester students, crew and faculty aboard the Robert C. Seamans (RCS). We’ve found some common threads – an all-encompassing love for hot chocolate, for example (almost to the point of needing to ration said beverage – tragedy of the commons anyone?), or our general appreciation for swim calls a stone’s throw away from an active volcano.
Bienvenidos a Cuba
“Bienvenidos a Cuba,” - Welcome to Cuba - says a man in olive green as he searches my bunk. “Bienvenidos a Cuba,” says a man in a red-starred hat as he searches my backpack and pockets. I’m wearing my best shirt for the arrival in Cuba. We all are. Polo shirts and modest skirts are pulled from bags as the few articles of clothing that don’t smell like sweaty sailors. We’re also all on our best behavior as we welcome a myriad of officials onto our boat, being quite unsure of our relation with this country and it’s citizens.
NIWA - National Institute of Water and Atmosphere
Yesterday was one of the best field trips yet, especially for the science nerds! NIWA, New Zealand’s version of NOAA, invited SEA Semester to tour their research vessel, RV Tangaroa, and their facilities in Wellington. NIWA was super generous, and a new connection for SEA was made.