SEA Currents: s268
Taking a Breath in Kanton
Today was our final full day in beautiful Kanton. After an entire day exploring the island and last night’s spectacle of food, song, and dance, that we shared with the residents of Kanton, I was left with sore muscles (and vocal cords), burnt skin, mangled toes, and a full heart. After so much activity, most of the Robert C. Seamans crew needed some R&R. When we were told we would be spending half of the day today exploring another part of the island, I was excited but not sure I was up for the task.
I found it most unexpected in my life on the sea is how people get affected by their surrounding environment. From the perspective of my personal experience, we are deprived from internet and news currently. I hardly read anything every day. But I got used to this new life immediately. The thing I contemplate the most nowadays are food, seawater, zooplankton. Aristotle, Descartes from St. John’s College seem to be so far away from me. From a cultural perspective, I realize how such tropical sea is absent in most cultures. Every time when I see moon hanging aloft in the sky, shedding silver lights all over the sea, I recall some Chinese poetries depicting moon and Yangze River, the swimming prisoner from Mount Cristo, several stops on the journey of Odessey, the young man from Kafka on the Shore.
Kanton, past and present.
Yesterday morning the Robert C. Seamans arrived in Kanton, motoring into its massive lagoon early in the afternoon. Today we awoke at 06:00 anchored in the lagoon, with a spectacular view of the strong tidal current, and a shore showing the signs of decades of military use: massive fuel tanks, the outlines of bunkers, and the remains of a WWII era shipwreck. Today we split into two groups, one going ashore to explore at 7:30, and another staying onboard the ship to stand watches and snorkel the coral gardens of the lagoon and the barrier reef outside.
Hello everyone back home, it’s Corinna here, reporting on what your loved ones have been up to for the past 24 hours. Starting at 0100, B watch was in charge when we spotted our first glimpses of Kanton in the dark. It took us a while to see it because of how low-lying it is, but we finally managed to see it just before day break. As per usual at the end of our watch, we were pretty hungry.
After two weeks of sailing on the open ocean, at 0700 we have finally spotted our first sign of land. It’s good to know that land still exists as we are all getting a bit anxious from being on a boat for this long without seeing land. Enderbury Island is an uninhabited Island on the eastern border of the Phoenix Islands. Although we didn’t actually make a stop at the island, we did have a deployment of the hydrocast, neuston net and tucker trawl to collect water samples and small ocean critters.
Cannot Feel Much Stronger
This is Panyu logging in here. After being physically “tortured” by Super Station Deployment (all three nets deployed Neuston Tow, Tuckertroll Deep and Shallow, and yet another Hydrocast), a hectic hour-long lab practical exam, a totally out-of-expectation fire drill on boat, getting stranded and soaked in a sudden squall while on watch, and finally finishing up the first policy draft for the Conservation and Management class, I am now EXHAUSTINGLY HAPPY and CANNOT FEEL MUCH STRONGER!
Thoughts from the Bowspirit
Two weeks since the forty souls on board this ship have laid eyes on land; not long now until we arrive upon the shores of the island of Kanton.
Indeed, last night we entered the Phoenix Islands Protected Area soon after crossing the equator, leaving behind the oceanic desert of the mid-Pacific and nearing an “Underwater Eden…”
Pollywogs Be Gone!
Beings of the interweb, we now bring you this urgent message:
WE’VE CROSSED THE EQUATOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The latitude on our GPS hit all zeroes as Polaris slunk below our horizon this morning at approximately 0445. Once Neptune awoke in the afternoon, we were put on trial for our misgivings. We were all found guilty, but after a few tests and tributes we were honorably given Shellback status.
Awaiting Neptune’s Judgment
Yes, blue skies are great, but nothing beats a star filled sky with an unobstructed horizon. This is one of the many joys of Dawn Watch. C Watch, in particular, has been large and in charge during many exciting early mornings on the Robert C. Seamans. We stood the first dawn watch, traversed the ITCZ during dawn watch, and last night launched an ARGO float before the sunrise.
ARGO floats are an economic way to gain information about temperature, salinity, and depth in all over the world’s oceans. Ours was deployed at 2˚N to be swept up in the equatorial waters. During the day we all signed it and then at 0500, we unceremoniously chucked it off the port side. It will float and sink for the next 2-3 years, collecting data, until it finds a final resting stop on the bottom of the ocean or is washed ashore. For anybody out there interested in tracking our ARGO float, you can Google it along with its serial number FO5503.
I grasped the latch. Slowly I pulled, being careful to keep my coffee in hand. As I pulled the hatch door open I found Peter just on the other side. His collar was slightly twisted and his hair matted; his glasses were just barely clinging to his face, his eyes dreary. He struggled into the lab - behind him Panyu followed. He shuffled past me. Soon enough he reached one hand into his pocket, one into the other one. Little by little he pulled out the wonders from within; a tissue used, an airline ticket slightly crumpled. He tossed them into the trash.