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Voyages

SSV Robert C. Seamans Blog

The Robert C. Seamans boards students of class S-240 (Energy in the Ocean Environment) in Honolulu, Hawaii on Wednesday, March 28, 2012. They plan to sail South making port calls at Christmas Island, Kiribati and Palmyra Atoll. The ship will then finish in Honolulu, Hawaii on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

Position information is updated on a workday basis only. Audio updates from the ship are reported periodically throughout the voyage.

Mobile users, click here to open in the Google Earth App.

May

06

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: Saturday May 5th 2012
Current Position: 20 deg 51.5’ N x 157 deg 04.0’ W
Course & Speed: 290 deg at 5 knots, underway for Honolulu
Sail Plan: Both Stays’ls
Weather: Clear skies and full moon shinning bright
Photo Caption: View from the bow at sunset.

During the past six weeks, we’ve accomplished more than some do in a lifetime. From Honolulu to Christmas Island we surfed eight foots seas with the trade winds at our backs. It took a while for some to acquire their sea legs, making for strenuous night watches on the bow. It seemed as though we were finally settling into the ocean going lifestyle when we arrived in Christmas Island.

A place of bleached white beaches, welcoming faces and turquoise lagoons, Christmas Island granted us with three days of excitement, education and exploration. We learned of the issue of sea level rise they’re facing and the forms of energy currently being utilized on the island. But before we knew it, it was time to set sail again for the pristine Palmyra Atoll.

We started south, collecting data in the east flowing Equatorial Countercurrent before heading north again for four days in search of a tiny blip of land lost in the Pacific. Upon arrival at paradise, otherwise known as Palmyra, everyone’s jaw hit the deck. The different shades of blues and greens emanating from the water were more intense than a 96 box of Crayola crayons on steroids. We spent three incredible days here as well, roaming the island for coconut crabs, bunkers and a shark killing dog named Dadu. Fortunately Dadu has retired from his shark hunting days and now only seeks tummy rubs and company on his patrols of the island.

As we left Palmyra and set sail a third time, we all knew that this would be the last of our open ocean explorations. It was a long leg of sailing, pounding into the 15-foot swells of the trade winds; this is where our Junior Watch Officer phase began. Each watch, a different student took the con, calling the shots and making sure that the captain’s orders were carried out with extreme precision. After a little over a week we managed to find Kona solely using celestial navigation.

There was much to be leaned during our time at the Big Island. From the National Energy Laboratory of Hawaii to the wind farm on the south shore of the island, we acquired a vast amount of knowledge of local energy resources. Solar, geothermal, wind, and biofuels are among a handful of options Hawaii is exploring to wean themselves off of fossil fuels.

Finally, it was time to make our way to Honolulu. Passing the serene islands of Maui, Molokai and anchoring off of Lana’i was a perfect way to end a voyage. The end of passage traditional swizzle brought laughs and smiles to the crew of the Seamans for one last time before we go our separate ways. As the time grows nearer thoughts begin to flood one’s mind.

We’re going back home, back to the families and friends we left, back to our jobs, back to our universities and back to what we knew. But something’s different. Throughout our time at sea something’s changed. I cannot speak for the rest of the ship but I can tell you that my perspective about my life has most certainly changed, several nights of sleep deprived bow watch at 0400 getting slapped by the Pacific will do that to you.

This experience is one that will be cherished by all onboard for days to come. We have all accomplished a feat that few other have. In six weeks we’ve conducted science, stood watch during all hours of the night, worked on our respective projects and produced manuscripts, all aboard a sailing vessel in remote regions of the vast Pacific. When we step off of the Robert C. Seamans tomorrow, it will be the last for some, but for myself, I know I’ll be back, ready to set sail once again.

This is S-240 signing off.

Chris Mangieri

P.S.- I want thank all of the deckhands, mates, engineers, stewards, chief scientist Deb Goodwin, ocean policy teacher Erin Bryant, captain Phil Sacks and all of those in the offices back on shore. You have given us an incredible experience unlike any other. I cannot thank you enough. For those of you reading this who are interested in the program, take a chance and sail with SEA. You will have the time of your life and meet a group of people truly unique and extraordinary in so many ways.

May

05

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: Thursday 4 May 2012
Current Position: 20 deg 49.535’ N x 156 deg 59.722’ W; off the Hawaiian
island of Lana’i
Course & Speed: Anchored
Weather: Sunny with a few (mostly) high clouds and occasional sprinkles. Trade winds.
Photo Caption: Chloe Howard and Chris Mangieri observe a historic caldera and distant active volcanic venting at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Dear Past and Future Students, Families, Friends, Staff, Faculty, and Others,

I teach the Ocean Science and Public Policy class for the Energy and the Ocean Environment program. That means I am classified as an “Other” (along with engineers, stewards, chief scientist, and captain) aboard S.E.A.‘s Sailing School Vessel Robert C. Seamans. And that is how I know which labeled bucket of cookies I’m allowed to attack at snack time. All things and people have their places aboard the RCS. And the food is consistently Delicious. Thanks, Abby, Lolo and Student Stewards. 

I met the ship and company Monday, April 30th, in Kailua Kona, Hawaii to join in two days of field trips to energy facilities on the Big Island and a final Local Energy Resource Assessment project. The field trips happened May 1st and 2nd and offered exciting new perspectives on Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, solar heating and photovoltaics, wind turbine technology, algal biofuel development and production, many uses for cold seawater, and volcanic activity on Hawaii. Air Conditioning with cold deep seawater can save 85% of a facility’s electricity bill, according to an expert at the Natural Energy Labs of Hawaii.

Trade winds cooled C-Watch’s “buoy-chase” exercises yesterday morning (9 points for the team!) and our swim call (featuring bowsprit jumping and current rides in bright blue water) and deployment of a gravity corer (recovered some stiff, dark brown, sandy mud) yesterday afternoon. When I left the deck to go below, the skin on my face buzzed after exposure to so much wind. And laughter. What fun watching the Junior Watch Officers call orders to their crew and analyze wind, sea, and ship. They did excellent work, shoulders square, voices loud, clothing flapping in the breeze.

It is a privilege and a pleasure to sail over and among the wild and lovely Pacific Ocean and Hawaiian Islands with this group of expert, earnest, friendly professional crew. From the students I hear a lot of, “I don’t want to leave this ship!” and “I’m sad our trip is ending.”

I am enjoying discussing energy problems and solutions with each member of the ship’s company, one by one. This morning the students presented, and we all discussed together, their Local Energy Resource Assessments focused on energy needs and potential in each of the port stops. The students used their knowledge of both sustainable and fossil fuel related power production equipment, policymaking, stakeholder interplay, and economic conditions and energy use habits in the regions of each island visited to make recommendations for energy technology planning for Christmas Island, Palmyra Atoll, and Hawaii. We ended the session with a brainstorm about applying our knowledge in our “real lives.”

This afternoon, the ship enjoyed bunk cleaning, deck wash, and a good “field day” scrubbing all over.

Happily rising and falling on the swell near the west coast of the Hawaiian island of Lana’i, within sight of a few caves not far above the reach of the tide and a few lava rock spires (“the Pinnacles”) eroded from the red-brown face of the oceanfront cliff,

Erin Bryant
SEA Maritime Studies & Policy Faculty

P.S. I miss you, Jeff, Emi and Nate! See you soon!!! Xoxo

May

04

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 3 May 2012
Current Position: 20 deg 49.5’N x 156 deg 59.7’W;  Nanahoa, West coast of Lana’i
Course & Speed: Anchored
Weather: Gusty
Photo Caption: Team science showing off the spoils of their gravity core sample.

Leaving Kona last evening lead to the inevitable second encounter with the aforementioned Alenuihaha Channel.  Though no less deserving of its name, this crossing only made for some challenging sleeping conditions.  Our new addition to the crew, faculty member Erin Bryant, handled the trying conditions on her first night to sea with great spirits though very little sleep could be had.

C watch and I took the watch this morning coming up on deck to the beautiful view of Kahoolawe, Molokini, and the south coast of Maui all around us. After a quick circumnavigation of Molokini allowing our artists - Skye, Annie, Beryl, and Chelsea - a chance to paint the changing view of the crater, we continued our trek toward Lana’i looking for wind. 

“Captain Phil’s Buoy Chase Challenge” began when we found the wind.  A buoy chase consists of the crew taking turns conning the ship to retrieve a fender (tossed overboard), which moves quickly downwind and disappears into the sea of breaking waves.  Fortunately our search led us to a copious amount of wind all at once.  C watch scored 9 points by first pass, expert retrievals from Justin, Beryl, and myself. We then continued to sail among these many islands, making our way to the west coast of Lana’I and our final anchorage of the voyage.
 
After a blustery swim call at anchor, science set up the Gravity Corer to take a sample of the bottom substrate.  The corer is made up of a length of PVC lowered very rapidly with the aid of three hundred pounds of lead and stabilizing fins.  Though the first sample of mud managed to free itself before coming aboard, the second attempt led to more than enough for everyone to receive partial facials.

The ship’s company has now settled into working busily a final renewable energy project, sharing pictures and planning swizzle skits.  Outside of the often said, “When we get to land.” it is easy to forget how soon we will be ashore.

Happy birthday, Mom.

Brian Barnes
Chief Mate

May

03

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: May 2nd 2012
Current Position: Kona, Hawaii
Course & Speed: At Anchor
Sail Plan: Standby
Weather: Sun and haze.
Photo Caption: Wind energy

Today we hit terra firma early in the morning to make for a day of wind turbines and lava tubes. We awoke to the site of a floating skyscraper parked right outside our portholes.The Pride of America! The cruise ship sweetly demanded the Seamans to move to another anchorage to allow more room for the shuttling of their patron patriots to land. We obliged. In times that were, the main pier in Kona was bustling with cattle herded from the hills, plump and ready for shipment overseas to distant lands. It was clear today that the pier had remained true to its historical purpose of herding large mammals to and from the sea. Although there were no Kona cowboys to be seen, the “aloha patrol” were hot on the scene, luring the patriots with their sign-up sheets, floral prints, and promises of waterfalls. I stood there in the middle of the scene for the entire duration of a melon popsicle. I savored it, and let the culture surround me. Aromas from the breakfast buffet somehow lingered in the air. transferred by the collective breath of the crowd or maybe just all of the fresh meshy clothing. Tanning oils, morning sweat, and sporty, tropical perfumes fluttered by. Sixteen-seater adventure vans squealed up to the scene and radical dudes flew out of the doors with clipboards in hand. Some travellers fell quickly to the hands of the bronzed adventurous bodies and dark sunglasses while others shuffled directly from the shuttle boat to other boats for techno-snorkeling or parasailing with dudes even more radical than the first. Elderly couples zoomed by in complementary Adidas tracksuits with earrings pearling and fingers golding; their remarkable speed and ease of travel tells me that they have done this before. Toddlers capture the excitement with their smartphones. I snapped out of my daze when I realized that my popsicle was finished and all flavor had long been extracted from the splintering stick upon my tongue. I had seen enough.

I found my shipmates and we made our way South by minivan to visit the Pakini Nui Wind Farm. We travelled past barren lava fields and vast gorgeous slopes. The terrain looked sharp, harsh, and the scraggily trees parched. We climbed into the remote hills and passed many cattle, horses, goats and some alpaca. A very long driveway led us to fourteen massive wind turbines. Over 200 feet tall with blades 100 feet long. We learned a thing or three about the turbines and then we spent time marveling at their size and eery noises. And it was windy. The location is said to be ideal, perched aloft and constantly fed by the tradewinds. Many of us ran up and down the windy road using our legs for the first time in ages. Aboard the Seamans, you cannot walk far before you must turn around, or begin swimming.

After some time we piled into the minivans to drive another 40 miles South to see Kilauea, munching down sandwiches on the way. We were pressed for time but we saw a massive crater and some steam from a lofty lookout. We also walked underground through an old lava tube large enough to accommodate a golf cart, which was pretty neat.

Now we are back aboard our trusty steed and are ready to head off towards Honolulu. The trip is quickly coming to an end and the days blend into a weird soup of sunsets and strange dreams. Many of us are doing crafty things with sailcloth or coconuts in our snippets of free time. We have formed groups to study and lead a joint discussions regarding energy on the islands we have visited. Some bunks are beginning to smell truly abstract but the nights are not nearly as sweaty as those before. We hope to laugh and learn as much as we can in our remaining days and seal away some memories for when we do step off onto solid ground and float our separate ways.

On Friday we will have a “swizzle” and raise our glasses to friendship, the ship that never sinks.

Gregory St. Aubin

May

02

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 1 May 2012
Current Position: 19 deg 38’ N x 156 deg W (Kona Bay)
Course & Speed: At Anchor
Sail Plan: None!
Weather: Mostly sunny during the morning with afternoon clouds and a few drops of drizzle along the coast. Further inland there were optically thick cumulus congestus clouds and haze that enshrouded 13,000 foot high Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. These clouds on the hill looked ominous and dark, reminiscent of large thunderstorm clouds, but in fact a large portion of these clouds is the result of the unique-to-Hawaii phenomena called vog, or volcanic fog. Volcanic fog forms when sulfur dioxide emitted by volcanoes reacts with oxygen and moisture in the atmosphere when in the presence of sunlight. 2008 estimates show that Hawaii island’s volcanoes emit 2,000 to 4,000 tons of sulfur dioxide each day!
Photo Caption: Going clockwise from top left: Myself and Greg on lava formed rocks near the ocean, a lovely evening celebrating Lei day on the boat with Casey and Christophe!, Casey and I at the OTEC facility, a view of the solar thermal panels on the NELHA campus.

I woke up today to a glorious dawn view of the hilly big island of Hawaii! The vog and clouds were not as thick and you could see partially up the mountains. The excitement among all of us was building as it was our first full day back on soil, and in Hawaii.  The Seamans was anchored off-shore so we all took shifts on our small boats getting to the pier.  After a bit of time to walk around, we all piled into mini-vans to go start our day of touring around the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA), located only about 20 minutes from Kona.  I was in a van with Skye, Randy, Brian, Beryl, Casey, and Chris and it was obviously a fun-filled singing fest! Upon arrival at the center we were greeted by Operations Manager Jan War who gave us a couple of lectures about all of the interesting work being done at NELHA. Not only was the material we were learning interesting, but we were in air-conditioning for the first time in over a month; it felt great. 

Unbeknownst to us at first, the air conditioning in the seminar room, and throughout NELHA’s campus, is driven by cold, deep seawater pumping. This water, which is around 45 degrees F, is able to cool buildings.  Apparently this is not a new concept as Toronto, Ithaca and Stockholm have similar air conditioning systems.  This deep water has many other purposes including the generation of electricity from ocean thermal energy conversion which is driven by the gradient in ocean temperature between the sea surface and deep ocean. Additionally, this deep seawater is used for aquaculture: the cultivation of fish, shellfish and even algae! One of the neatest uses for the cold deep seawater involves agriculture, where pipes of this water are run under crops. Much like an ice-cold glass of water on a hot day, condensation builds around the pipe and waters the plants. The temperature of the water in the pipe can be manipulated and has been shown to trick the plant and manipulate the “seasons.” 

For lunch we went to a park along the ocean and ate our home-made sandwiches.  It was a very cool area because its landscape was completely black with hardened lava rock.  Some of the rocks looked like they had be plopped from outer space!  It was really nice to dip our feet in the water! After lunch we continued our tour with Jan and visited a solar thermal energy plant as well as the ocean thermal energy test site.  They were both mind-blowing and I have plenty of notes.  Late in the afternoon we returned to Kona and had some free time. My first and foremost task was to buy flip flops.  My flip flops broke about five minutes after I boarded the Seamans in Honolulu! Topping off a great day was a scoop of banana oreo ice cream, no rainbow sprinkles this time. 

SEA Semester S-240 has been an once in a lifetime experience. From steering the ship to setting, striking and furling sails, and from navigating by the sun and stars to song singing while on lookout on the bow, it has been full of experiences that I will never forget. Our 14 person S-240 student group is by far one of the most well balanced and close-knit groups I’ve been in, and I love each and every one of them!

P.S. Hello to all of my friends and family! I am excited to be back in Philly in two weeks.  Although I will only be home for a week, I am looking forward to telling you about my SEA experiences when I am home and also when you all visit me this summer in Colorado and this fall while I am in Denmark for graduate school!!     
 
Have a fabulous and sunshine filled day!
Daniel Pollak

May

01

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 30 April 2012
Current Position: 19 deg 38’ N x 156 deg W (Kona Bay)
Course & Speed: At Anchor
Sail Plan: None!
Weather: Beautiful
Photo Caption: Starting off a late night class with some chocolate to the face. Thanks Annie!

I’ve never been one for enjoying birthdays, somehow things don’t usually go the way I’d like. However, today was better than anything I could have asked for. Starting with anchor watch at 1am this morning, I had Dan and Anna sitting under the stars with me singing and playing guitar. We had hot chocolate, some dancing around, and an exceptional amount of laughter. Ending our watch with a few minutes laying on the furled jib listening to island music and looking at the lights of Hawaii was really just the start to one of the best days of my life.

We had an early morning swim call (6am to be exact) and then motored off to Kona Bay. After taking a nap, I walked up on deck to see a gorgeous island, paddle boarders, and a surfaced submarine close by. We all stepped foot on Kona for just a few minutes to clear customs and then had a relaxed rest of the day aboard the Seamans. We’re all so excited to have Erin, our marine policy teacher, on board after missing her for all of the sea component thus far! Many of us spent the afternoon working on our sail cloth journals, seine twine turksheads, and/or coloring Disney princesses. So much thanks to Skye who’s given so much wisdom into the art of journal making as well as to Saphrona for allowing us to use the old sail cloth and thread. To top off a perfect afternoon, many spinner dolphins came by to give us a show. The weather was magnificent for the afternoon swim call to scrub the hull. We had the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen thus far which I thoroughly enjoyed watching with Chris as we talked about how strange it’s going to be to go home so soon. I feel this is home and we’ve been here forever, yet it also seems the experience has gone by much too quickly.

After dinner Anna, Annie, Dan, and I sat on the doghouse, played guitar and sang once again. It feels freeing to have become so much better at playing than when I left home. Later on, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me and we enjoyed some amazing chocolate cake, ice cream, and hot fudge which I appreciate so so so much and send thanks to everyone who helped the baking process. Diz and I had a laughing moment of epic proportions. Adrienne made me the best homemade earrings I’ve ever seen out of old leather and guitar strings which are completely unbelievable. So much love to Lolo and Deb who spent the time untangling lei’s in Walmart to find me a good one. After all the festivities, Erin gave a quick class to talk about our last SEA project. We are breaking into three groups to evaluate our three port stops in terms of suitability for renewable energy. Tomorrow we’ll be going on land to learn about some amazing renewable projects and we’re all unbelievably excited! Thanks to Spencer for listening to my new favorite song with me and looking out over Kona from the lab housetop. Today was the best birthday I ever could have asked for and I appreciate everyone so much for making it amazing. This trip has been unreal and I’m so unprepared to go back to real life.

Mom and Dad, I love you both so much and I want you to know that I appreciate you both for raising me well and giving me opportunities such as this one to learn about the world as well as myself. I’ve made some incredible people here and in turn some remarkable new friends. Also, thanks to all the other families who have raised their children to live life in a manner that has allowed them to cross my path and make an impact on my life, as everyone on this trip has.

I hope everyone has a wonderful day, I know we all will.
Casey Tremper

Apr

30

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 29 April 2012
Current Position: At Anchor, Kealakekua Bay, Big Island, Hawaii
Weather: Haze and Warm Nighttime Temperatures Photo Caption: I’m not certain that it’s feasible to see the 14000 foot peaks of the Big Island, but we’re having fun anyways being at anchor off Hawaii.

There was something amazing about our approach to the Big Island in that we couldn’t see any land until we were about 15nm out from the shore. A layer of haze had been blanketing the area as we started the day, and with much anticipation, the crew were on a sharp lookout for land and for the first cry of “Land Ho!” There were a number of distractions in the air: paper writing was in full swing and the sway of ocean waves coming through the Alenuihaha Channel. But this didn’t keep the crew from sneaking up from minute to minute to survey the horizon, grab a pair of binoculars for a closer look, or even go aloft to look from a better vantage point. The suspense built for seeing the first land. Earlier 40, then 30, then 25 nm, then nearly 14 nm before Christophe sighted the first land and a shout of success went up through the crowd. It was that time to head to shore, although maybe I wasn’t yet ready to leave the open seas, and start our talks about energy and conclude the trip in a few short days. 

I also have to report that I did have the pleasure later on that evening, as we approached the anchorage off the Big Island, to be part of the team readying the anchors to drop. We paid out about 4 shots of anchor chain on the port anchor (90 feet per “shot” thus giving us approx. 360 feet of chain) in 90 feet of water. Giving the anchor chain some time to get situated on the bottom allowed us to determine that the anchor was holding well. Anchor watches started and project work was nearly done, with a number of students in the main saloon and library working on final edits and corrections.

Back on deck later on, the haze did hinder our view of the stars, but I got to see the half moon rising in a yellow glow. All is well here on the Robert C Seamans and we are all enthusiastically awaiting the start of two days in Kona with field trip opportunities to energy sites on the Big Island.

Signing off,
Randy Jones
Assistant Scientist

PS. Hi to friends and family! We’ll be able to catch up soon on all the excitement! A special shoutout to Em! Hope the past 6 weeks in the little hamlet of West Kara have been productive and successful for you. Love you!

Apr

30

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: April 28, 2012
Current Position: 100 miles west of Kailua, Kona
Course & Speed: 075 degrees, 5 knots
Sail Plan: Reefed Main, Forestays’l, Mainstays’l
Weather: ESE’ly trade winds, 20 knots

The Robert C. Seamans is presently 100 miles south of Honolulu and almost exactly the same distance west of the port of Kailua, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Honolulu, of course, is the ultimate destination of cruise S-240, but first we intend to anchor at Kailua in order to allow students to study several alternative energy facilities on this large volcanic island. Erin Bryant, faculty member teaching the Marine Policy class on shore, has been making the arrangements for two full days of field trips. Erin is due to arrive at Kona from Woods Hole on Sunday, and meet us when we drop anchor on Monday.  After we check in with the port officials for our re-entry to the United States following our visit to Kiribati, Erin will lead the field trips and join us on board Seamans for the remainder of the cruise.

I think everyone on board is excited about seeing Erin (not merely because her arrival provides the opportunity for a mail call ).  Maritime Studies Faculty don’t often come to sea with the class, and it is a rare opportunity for her to participate in the final week of the cruise.

I last blogged a week ago, just as the students were about to begin taking rotations as Junior Watch Officer (JWO), entering what we call Phase III of the Sea Component.  I have been incredibly impressed with how well the ship is operating under the leadership of the students.  Of course, some sail evolutions and maneuvers go better than others, but the occasional fouled line or luffing sail provide some of the best opportunities for learning.  The truly important thing is that the students are absolutely stepping up as leaders, working very well in their watches, and all of the functions of the ship continue smoothly.  As an exercise, upon our departure from Palmyra we covered the GPS in the chartroom and have been navigating using only the sun and stars; the student positions have been mostly within a few miles (ok, I peeked at the GPS so I know) of our actual position, giving, I am sure, an immense sense of satisfaction.

As wonderful as this leg of the cruise has been, it was not without incident.  We had a real fright a few days ago when, just as a student was about to deploy a Neuston Net into the water, the ship took a slightly larger roll and the student lost his balance and tumbled over the rail into the sea. Immediately, the training from weekly drills paid off as the Assistant Scientist and students on scene jumped into action.  In our training, we emphasize the need, in the event of someone falling over the side, to do three things simultaneously:  alert the vessel (by voice and the general alarm), throw over the specially-designed MOB kits (life rings, poles with radar reflectors, and strobe lights), and – probably most importantly – doing everything absolutely possible to keep the person in sight (several people pointing, taking bearings, etc.).  Well, this is exactly what happened.

When I first heard the shout of “Man Overboard!”, I was standing on the quarterdeck, just about to step into the chartroom to check if we had the right speed – 2 knots – for the tow we were starting. I glimpsed off the side to port, and saw a light blue color pass close by the hull.  Since I was closest to the general alarm button, I sounded the alarm to alert everyone onboard, while calling for the helm to be put hard to port to stop the ship immediately.

I then jumped back on the quarterdeck, saw the blue was a rain jacket and could easily identify who was wearing it, just 10-20 meters astern.  I called out that we’d have him back on board in minutes, and motioned for him to swim to the life rings that floated a few feet away.  As soon as he was at the floats and hanging on, I could see that he was ok, and I knew we would have him safely back aboard pretty quickly.

As all this happened, the entire ship’s company of students and professional crew were skillfully following their assigned tasks to ensure we could control the ship and rapidly retrieve the person in the water. The Seamans has a rescue boat that is designed to be ready and quickly launched in the event of just such an emergency.  I made a quick assessment of the situation and determined that under the circumstance, the fastest and safest way to retrieve the person in the water was by doing so directly from the Seamans, without launching the rescue boat.  In fact, it took us a matter of minutes to turn the Seamans around, toss a line to the person, and pull him alongside. In that time, the crew had opened the bulwark gate and readied a ladder.  The chief mate had put on a safety harness and, while tethered, was able to climb down the ladder to assist the person aboard.  All of the above transpired in just a few minutes; only then we were able to take a deep breath.  Our medical officers immediately helped the student below and before long reported to me that he was safe, without any injury at all.

On deck, we finished retrieving the many life floats we had thrown into the water and then gathered up as a ship’s company for a collective sigh of relief and to de-brief. As always, any event onboard is an educational opportunity.

Without question, the possibility of someone falling over the side while at sea can be very serious and is one of the risks that mariners must respect and be conscious of at all times.  I have been going to sea for 33 years, the last 28 of them as Master. In all those years, and in fact in all of SEA’s 40 years taking students to sea, no one has ever fallen overboard.  I have participated in over 500 man overboard drills over the years in various oceans, on various vessels, with many different crews – most on board SEA vessels.  I’ve never appreciated more than now the lessons learned, large and small, from those drills – for me, the crews, and the students.

I am very proud of how everyone onboard handled the situation, from first response to recovery to thoughtful debrief and subsequent support of the person who fell in as well as every member of the shipboard community.  I also have to recognize the student who fell in the water. He remained calm throughout the incident – precisely what was needed at the time.  I wonder how I, or anyone else, would have reacted in a similar circumstance.  Throughout my life, I know I’ve grown the most from the truly challenging encounters.  I’d be surprised if those few minutes weren’t one of the most significant learning events of the cruise for most onboard.  That’s one of the immense rewards of going to sea: learning by experience, albeit sometimes unwanted and quite difficult.  A short while after the student was back onboard, I reported the event to SEA’s shore side leadership.  I’m very grateful to the complete support we have received from every level of the SEA family.  It reminds me why I’ve spent most of my career with this organization.

Now it’s time for me to stop writing and to step back on deck.  The huge mass of Mouna Loa, at over 13,000 feet high, might decide to show herself above the horizon soon, and I’d like to see which student is the first to sight her and call out “Land Ho,” alerting the ship’s company to a most cheerful event!  Morale remains extremely high and there is much excitement anticipating this afternoon’s presentations of student research findings and the upcoming landfall.

Phil Sacks
Master, SSV Robert C. Seamans

Apr

29

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 28 April 2012
Current Position: 50 miles west of Hawaii
Course & Speed: towards land, 6 knots
Sail Plan: Fore and main staysails and the d-sail
Weather: Another starry night in paradise
Photo Captions: Science in all its glory:  Assistant scientists celebrating a clean lab with a dance party and Jon and Beryl’s microplastics presentation party.

You know that any day that starts off with breakfast sandwiches is going to be a good day and today was no exception. It was important that we got started on the right foot because today was not just any other day aboard the Robert C. Seamans but project presentation day! The main salon was abuzz all morning long as presentations were practiced, graphs were drawn, and last second preparations were underway. An additional challenge to the usual fare of collegiate procrastination included the fact that this morning, as we drew ever closer to the leeward side of the big island of Hawaii, we began to experience some of the delights that the Alenuihaha Channel has to offer. The Alenuihaha is the channel between the islands of Hawaii and Maui and a special place indeed. The trade winds funnel between the volcanoes and give the channel its name which translates like this:  ale=wave, nui=big, ha=wind. We can confirm that “big waves double wind” is accurate and motor sailing into the waves it generates does in fact add some fun (and acrobatics) to prepping presentations. But as Kelly Clarkson so eloquently stated during our field day dance party in the lab yesterday, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and with that spirit in mind the students of S240 persevered to bring their 10 weeks of project work to culmination with both quarterdeck presentations today and research papers due tomorrow night.

The presentations went very well: we learned all about what scientific insights were gleaned from the data collected during our cruise and how it fits into the big oceanographic picture. Talks ranged from carbonate chemistry and its effects on the biological community, microplastics and zooplankton, the possibility of ocean thermal energy conversion as a alternate source of energy in this region, nutrients and their effects on trophic levels, and turbulence within the water column. With the presentations finished and the newsprint slides cast into the ocean, let the final push of paper writing commence. 

As the sun sets on one of our last days out of sight of land and we reach a major milestone in the research project process, the fact that this cruise is drawing to a close soon is slowing dawning upon all of us. While all of us are excited for Kona, most notably a full night of uninterrupted sleep, there is a certain bittersweet factor to leaving the self-sufficient and insular world we have at sea to return to the bustle of land life. But there’s time for deep thoughts of the future over some star gazing later. Right now it’s time for dinner and as further proof that the stewards love us, its pizza. Who knew that 50 miles offshore of Hawaii you could get deep-dish pizza? Color this Chicagoan psyched.

The main salon, filled with conversations about various scientific topics this morning, has now dissolved into the laughter of people who are tired, full of pizza, and get a lot of entertainment out of a camera and bag of bunny shaped marshmallows. Time for me to switch hats from blogger of the day to contributing editor of the Pacific Times, our Sunday newspaper that’s due to hit the press in just a few hours. Here’s hoping we sight Hawaii tomorrow, preferably around 1600 so I can win the sighting of land contest.

Until then,
Laura Nelson
Assistant Scientist

P.S. Happy birthday Alex and much love to my whole ohana. Mom and Dad, ask Kirstin, she knows what it means.

Apr

28

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: Friday April 27, 2012
Current Position: 19deg 43.1’N x 158deg 22.8’W
Course & Speed: 055 deg, 3.5 knots
Sail Plan: Sailing under the four lowers (the mains’l, main stays’l, fore stays’l, and jib)
Weather: Calm seas, light winds, and a chilly 76 deg F (those of us headed home to northern climes are sure going to have to reacclimate!)
Photo Caption: Theo and Diz in their Field Day finest.

It’s hard to believe that we have only a week left aboard the Seamans! Six weeks at sea sounded like a very long time at the outset of the trip, but with only seven full days remaining in our voyage (two of which will be spent ashore at Kona) it’s hard to know where the time has gone.

Although we normally hold Field Day on Saturdays, the happy event was moved to today (Friday) in anticipation of the students’ oceanography presentations. These presentations are the culmination of almost ten weeks of efforts. Tomorrow, each research group will present their preliminary findings to the entire ship’s company before completing their papers by Sunday night. They’ve been working tirelessly, staying awake at all hours of the night to get their work done in time. Field Day might have been a welcome respite from science! For motivation, A watch prepared a cleaning supplies scavenger hunt, giving silly costumes to three teams who were sent running all over the ship. Of course, it doesn’t take much to get the people on this boat to wear crazy costumes - in fact, you might say we look for excuses to do it!

It’s funny to think that our next Field Day will be occur on our last full day on the boat. But as we’ve all learned in the past five weeks, each day stretches out to hold as much as you try to fit into it. In his or her own way, every person on this ship is using each day to the fullest. I bet the next seven will be some of our best yet.

Laura Dismore

ps - okay, parents: now I’m sunburned. Love you! Talk soon.

Apr

27

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 26 April 2012
Current Position: 18 deg 45.4’N x 159 deg 36.7’W
Course & Speed: 055 deg True, 3.8 kts
Sail Plan: All fore and aft sails! (Main, main stays’l, fore stays’l, jib,
jib tops’l and fisherman)
Weather: ESE winds 10-15 kts, seas 3-4 ft, partly cloudy
Photo Caption: Galley shenanigans

Today was a very exciting day aboard the Seamans: Staff in the Galley Day! This means we have all probably consumed over 4000 calories today. The day started with pancakes and bacon prepared by our sassy steward, Abby, and engineer, Jimmy. They then impressed us by treating us to fresh donuts for snack! Lunch was prepared by third mate Theopholis ‘Crazy Eyes’ Collins and 2nd assistant scientist Laura ‘Almost an Admiral’ Nelson. They made some delicious squash soup and paninis. After class, chief scientist Deb, 1st assistant scientist Skye and assistant steward Lolo indulged us with soft pretzels for afternoon snack. While they were twisting, boiling and baking pretzels, 3rd assistant scientist Randy and I were making one of my all-time favorite treats, Scotcheroos! Unless you are related to me, you are probably wondering what a Scotcheroo is. They are rice crispie treats, but instead of marshmallows, they are made with peanut butter, and topped with melted chocolate and butterscotch chips. I don’t know how they got their name, all I know is they are yummy, and a total sugar overload - perfect for the middle of the night.

For dinner we had Mango Surprise Pasta, with no mangoes. I don’t remember how it got its name, but the fabulous Lolo and assistant engineer Mike came up with it. We also had some green veggies in the form of broccoli, but don’t worry moms, it was covered in cheese! We don’t want to be TOO healthy out here. Lastly a wonderful salad with all sorts of goodies in it, from grapes, to goat cheese to candied walnuts.

Hopefully we didn’t stress Abby out too much, and let her have some extra down time, while all having fun getting a chance to cook. I know I miss cooking when I head out to sea, so it was all sorts of fun to get out of our routine and make some goodies for the ships company.

Saphrona Stetson
Second Mate

P.S. Shout out to my family, love you all, see you in July!

Apr

26

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: April 25th 2012
Current Position: Somewhere in the big, blue Pacific Ocean (~17 deg 49’N x 160 deg 26’W)
Course & Speed: Steering at a course of 025 degrees at 6 knots
Sail Plan: We are sailing under the mains’l, mainstays’l, forstays’l and jib, heading for Kona, Hawaii
Weather: It is a beautiful star-filled night
Photo Caption: With our powers combined we may not sink the ship (Chief Engineer Jimmy O’Hare, Student Engineer Annie and Assistant Engineer Mike Wood).

A little worn out from a hard day’s work, but with a smile on my face, I write to all of you with slightly greased up hands. I cupcaked a friend in the face, (attempted) to speak in a British accent while on watch, and was JOE (Junior Officer of Engineering) for the afternoon. Every day two students are JOEs for their respective morning and afternoon watches. 

Luckily we hardly had to use the engine on our way down to Christmas Island and Palmyra Atoll. But the engineers, Jimmy and Mike, also have to deal with making fresh water, generating electricity and keeping the boat in tip-top shape. Rule number one when entering the engine room is to always wear ‘sacrificial’ sunglasses. There are plenty of low-hanging pipes to potentially bump your head on. Today I helped the engineers test the general alarm (don’t worry parents, it is working just fine), exercised a number of important valves, and transferred fuel from the fuel tanks to the day tank.

We are always encouraged to use less energy on the boat (how ironic considering our program is called ‘Energy in the Ocean Environment’). The JOEs occasionally have to give an Engineering Report during our daily ship’s meeting. Thus, I thought it would be appropriate to end with a report of sorts: we have consumed roughly 12.5 gallons of water per person a day and as a ship 72.3 gallons of diesel a day.

To my family and friends all over the world: I love all of you and am so excited to share stories of my adventures.

Annie Mejaes

Apr

25

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 24 April 2012
Current Position: 16 deg N x 160 deg 57.7’W
Course & Speed: 015 deg T, 4.5 knots
Sail Plan: 4 lowers (main, fore and main stays’ls and jib)
Weather: ENE (Trade) winds 20-25 knots, 8-9’ seas, partly cloudy
Currents: NE’rly (finally!) at 0.5 knots
Photo Caption: An iridescent Sapphirina copepod at 50x magnification.

We are sailing in the bluest of blue waters about 350nm SW of Kona, Hawaii. Morale is high on board the Seamans as we transit our final open-ocean sailing leg with students in charge on deck and in the laboratory.  When not relishing the ample sea spray on deck, students have been busy working on their final oceanography research manuscripts.  We have been collecting four weeks of data for each student project and now they are figuring out what it all means and how to present their scientific story in a concise and elegant manner.  Yes, we are making new discoveries on board at this very moment! S240 research questions concern ocean acidification, microplastic (pollution) density, El Nino/La Nina effects on whole the food web, vertical turbulence in the water column, and analysis of potential renewable ocean energy technology. Please send well wishes to your daughters and sons this Saturday as they present all of their findings to the ship’s company in a formal presentation.

As a scientist on board, I am most excited by the bizarre creatures we bring up in the nets and my favorite moments on board are the “blow your mind” looks on student faces when they see a new animal they could never have imagined prior. I will fill you in on some of our exciting findings… we have had beautiful Sapphirina copepods throughout most of our voyage. Copepods are the most abundant animals in the ocean, and these ones are unique in that they have iridescent platelets that look like a stunning stained glass window under the microscope. We recently brought up a 10cm-long pitch-black dragon fish with large teeth and a distendable jaw with a bioluminescent lure hanging off its chin.  In equatorial waters, we discovered jellyfish about 4cm in diameter with eight maroon stripes (gonads) and purple stomachs.  It turns out they are in the family Atollidae, which is fitting considering the many coral atolls around! We have seen an abundance of small Portuguese Man-o-War jellyfish and creatures called hyperiid amphipods with beaks that appear a cross between a shrimp and a bird.  Needless to say, I anticipate each net tow we do like opening a present - who knows who or what may be inside? Each student is now an expert on ocean zooplankton, and I hope they will eventually share their impressions of the sea’s creatures with their loved ones at home.

In the meantime, I will close with the end of one of my favorite poems by Pablo Neruda, “And time and again the darkness would be broken by the crash of a wave. And every day on the balcony of the sea, wings open, fire is born, and everything is blue again like morning.”

Skye Morét
1st Assistant Scientist

p.s. Have a lovely birthday Mom! Also belated birthday wishes to Kathi Schell. XOXO to you both!

Apr

24

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: Monday, 23 April 2012
Current Position: 13˚55’ N x 141˚ 47’ W
Course & Speed: 005˚ at 5.knts
Sail Plan: Mainstays’l
Weather: Fair, NE’ly Trade Winds, 25 knots
Photo Caption: Steering the Ship

We have been sailing in subtropical gyre for several days. The Seamans sails very fast with the help of motor engine.

Six days from now, we’ll arrive in Kona. Time flies - it feels like we just started our voyage yesterday. The first week on the ship was the hardest. I had never been at sea before and the busy work both on watch and in lab seemed big burdens on me. Luckily, everything got better after that. Especially after I got the view of land for the first time since we started the trip, I felt all the hard work was worthwhile. We set sails again after three great days in Kiribati. My main motivation of the voyage was the mysterious Palmyra. As expected, the scene I saw in that island was unique, such as hundreds birds flying over me. The most exciting thing happened after we left Palmyra. I began to truly enjoy the trip itself and appreciate the beauty of ocean. Every time I look at the horizon, the only thing that comes to my mind is the peaceful waves and the tranquility of ocean.

Finally, let me end the blog with the Captain Phil’s words, “Where are we?” “We are in paradise!”

Greetings to my parents and my friends!
Rui

日期:星期一,4月23日,2012
现在的位置:13˚55’ N x 141˚ 47’ W
航向和速度:005˚ , 5节
扬帆计划:主帆
天气:上午阴雨,下午晴朗,东北风,风速25节
照片标题:掌舵

驶出赤道流场,我们的Seamans号已经在亚热带环流中行驶了。在发动机的帮助下,一般情况下利用风帆行进的Seamans号如虎添翼,速度飞快。

大概还有6天的时间,我们就要到达夏威夷的Kona岛了。而我们总共六周的海上旅程已经到了第五周了。时光飞逝,仿佛前日才刚刚启程。第一周的旅程是最艰难的,从未出过海的我晕船严重, 紧张的水手和实验室工作使自己感到很不适应。幸运的是,一切都在第二周开始好转。特别是当我们在经过“漫长”航行,终于见到基里巴斯岛时,我觉得一切的不适应都是值得的。在这个热带上小岛上度过了愉快的3天之后,我们又一次扬帆起航。那时自己的航行下去的主要动力就是不远处的Palmyra岛。在这个现在没有常驻人口的小岛上,我见到了很多独特的景象,比如成百只海鸟在自己上方飞翔。最神奇的事发生在我们离开Palmyra岛后, 我发现自己已经不再把下一个目的地当做自己的动力,而是开始真正的享受这次旅行。尽管忙碌的工作表依然照旧,每当我站在甲板上遥望远方时,想到的只有这海的波荡和宁静,再也没有了下一站的陆地。

最后以船长Phil常说的话作结,“我们在哪里?”“我们在天堂!”

向父母亲朋以及所有关心我的人问好!
胡锐

 

Apr

23

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date:  Sunday, 22 April 2012
Current Position: 11 deg 57’ N x 162 deg 16’ W
Course & Speed: Hove To
Sail Plan: Mainstays’l
Weather: Fair, NE’ly Trade Winds, 20 knots 8’-10’ seas
Photo Caption: Finding our way

We woke this Sunday morning to a delicious breakfast of fruit and freshly baked bread, and as a special treat some of the scientists presented us with a bit of lite reading: the cruise’s first edition of the “Pacific Times”, the SEAMANS’ own newspaper. The front page article reminded all aboard of Earth day observances around the globe, and ended with an inspiring quotation, ” Those who contemplate the beauty of earth shall find reserves of strength that will last for as long as time endures.” (Rachel Carson)

Since the cruise began, between Honolulu and Christmas Island, then from Christmas to Palmyra, we sailed almost all of the time.  Over 1500 nautical miles travelled with only 20 engine hours.  Since Palmyra, unfortunately that has changed. As expected, we’ve found the NE’ly trades to be just a bit too fine on the starboard bow, making it difficult to make progress toward Kona, Hawaii, without assist from the main engine.  The last three days have been mostly motor-sailing.  As I write, however, we are hove-to—basically stopped and drifting, while we carry out a scientific deployment. The scientists attached a meter net to the end of the hydrographic wire and using the ship’s powerful winch, lowered it to a depth 2000 meters - over a mile.  We’ve been here almost 3 hours, and the net should be almost back to the surface. Once net and wire are aboard, we’ll gybe back to the starboard tack and get underway again toward Kona.

We took advantage of the reduced motion of the ship while hove to carry out our weekly “field day” or deep cleaning of the ship.  The pre-field day gathering featured a skit written and narrated by Paul (S-240 resident playwright) and performed by the rest of B watch, leaving everyone laughing loudly as we headed below for the cleaning. The field day also being our own small observance of Earth Day,  when the cleaning ended, an Earth Day themed snack was enjoyed by all.

Today marks another important milestone of the trip. In just two hours, when the afternoon watch turns the deck over to the evening watch, we will begin what we call Phase III of the shipboard program.  The educational program aboard the Seamans, both from the nautical perspective on deck, and also the science program in the lab, is guided by students assuming an ever increasing level of responsibility. On deck that means on the next watch one of the students will begin functioning as the Junior Watch Officer (JWO). In this position the student will use everything that they he or she has learned over the last ten weeks (6 ashore, 4 at sea) to safely navigate the ship and efficiently carry out all of the normal functions of the vessel- science lab, engine room, galley, etc.  Clearly it is an organizational position foremost, and the effective JWO knows to call on the experience and skills of all her shipmates to fully effect the smooth operation of the ship.

Phase III is certainly the culmination of a long and challenging semester. The student JWOs hold a large responsibility, and most take the position quite seriously,  step up to the challenge, learn an enormous amount and at the same time feel a great sense of accomplishment. For the captain, Phase III is a time of a little less sleep, because the student watch officers look for a little more guidance from the captain than the professional crew ( in itself is a sign of a good watch officer),  however, for me, this evening begins the most rewarding days of the program. Now the students know enough to truly sail and navigate the vessel— by the stars!!!—, and it’s a great joy to see their delight as they pull together as a class to make it so.

Captain Phil

Apr

22

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 21 April 2012
Current Position: 10 deg 19.0’Nx 162 deg 20.7’W
Course & Speed: 010 deg; 10 knots
Sail Plan: the two stays’ls
Weather: partly cloudy, moderate winds
Photo Caption: Rowing in the small boat “Gene” with Greg, Spencer, and Kevin in Palmyra.

I am ending this wonderful night with no better way but a blog entry! Throughout my time here I have become a true believer that writing is a gateway to a deeper connection with others. Hopefully, through every entry you all can see the growth of the S240 community.  Day after day our bonds become stronger even when our stomachs sometimes get weaker from this upwind battle! Each and every individual on this boat inspires me.  Everyone knows that I love anything and everything science so sometimes I do not catch on to other subject areas as easily.  But just to show you the power of this community I will share with you my experience today. 

The seas are a little rocky due to our course upwind therefore I had to take multiple breaks on the deck to get fresh air and every single time I went on deck someone shouted at me, “keep pushing,” “you got this Chloe,” “you are a trooper,” and “don’t let the seas make you weak!”  It is love and support all around this boat.it makes me realize how different it will be not waking up to my shipmate’s voice telling me the time, what to wear for watch, how amazing breakfast will be and all.  Throughout the day the seasickness got better and I was able to go on watch where we had a lot of work to tackle in the lab along with celestial navigation projects that were due. And yet even my Chief Scientist assisted us with every aspect of the project, made sure that we understood everything and even gave us time to doodle on our Styrofoam cups that we will be sending to the deep sea tomorrow as a mental break!  This will be so missed, my teachers and classmates are amazing.the jokes and laughs you get on this boat leave you on your belly.LITERALLY!

I shared with some of my watchmates the changes they have made in me just as simple as my buddy Greg and Poppa Paul always correcting me when I doubt myself and forcing me to face my fears.They have shown me that sometimes your mental doubt is your biggest challenge.  Now that I am here and I can now say that I have experience on a research boat as a 20 year old college student, there is not much that I can say I will ever be afraid of.  If I could only video tape just one day on the Seamans maybe you all will realize the utopia we are in.even when the times get hard, no one ever leaves a shipmate behind.  I love the FAMILY I have become a part of here and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  My roommate Annie and buddy Casey are now telling me it’s time to sleep because I have watch soon so I must go but that goes to show you the accountability here.this is the life!

Mommy, Daddy, Pat, Carl, Khalil, Colby, Connor, Courtney, Aunt Tammy and Aunt Gail.I love you all! I hope you got my postcards! I will be home very soon now and with so many stories to share.you always told me I was destined for greatness and here is just the beginning of the journey!

..Peace, Love and Happiness.Chloe H.

Apr

21

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 20 April 2012
Current Position: 8 deg 08.560’ N x 162 deg 15.622’ W
Course & Speed: 005 deg at 5.5 knts
Sail Plan: Mains’l (Single Reef), Mainstays’l, Forestays’l, Jib
Weather: 6/8ths Cumulus Cloud Cover
Photo Caption: Robert C. Seamans amidst Palmyra Military Leftovers

Oh, how the wind does blow.in the wrong direction. Still flying high from our experiences at Palmyra Atoll, we still harness that energy and carry it into sporty seas. Sure, we might be heeled over to a point where everyone’s walk looks like a badly choreographed music video number, but morale is strong and laughter and hard work continue.

The rhythms that develop while on the water are something difficult to measure. Who we are as individuals blends into a collective that none of us could have anticipated when signing up for this voyage. Encouragement reigns. Knowledge is shared with grace and humor, lacking any hesitation, and we all revel in the moments - small and large. Today’s color included an auction of gear adrift (the place where mislaid objects and clothing end up). Should anyone, student or otherwise, claim something as their own - they were forced to display a talent in order to regain their items. This brought about songs in Chinese, French, and a baritone rendition of I’m a Little Teapot by yours truly, along with a variety of poorly delivered jokes and some competition over some items of dispute.

Even as I write this, salt water churns about the port holes like an angry washing machine - just one of the many reminders of where we are and what we are here to do. We have all set out to challenge ourselves by choosing this voyage. All of our hands have hauled the lines that unfurl the sails that bring us to paradise and allow us to bring paradise home with us. Though the seas roll, not even the palest among us wish for the end. There are more knots to learn, more stars to place in the sky, more whit-filled conversations to share and learn from. It is easy to stay safe, to remain still, but the glory of living comes in the challenges set before you - and we have met those challenges, from student to staff, and will continue to carry that momentum to fulfill what awaits for us on land.

Always the wind.
Always the sea.

Paul North
Deckhand/Existential Detective

Apr

20

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 19 April 2012
Current Position: 6 deg 39.9’ N x 162 deg 3.5’ W
Course & Speed: 010 deg per the compass, making 5.5 knots
Sail Plan: Motorsailing under the four lowers with a single-reefed mains’l
Weather: sporty! winds NExE F4, waves E 5ft. Partly cloudy skies
Photo Caption: Annie, Steve, and Kevin enjoying their snorkeling excursion on Palmyra.

Greetings from your neighborhood steward! What a marvelous day it has been in the galley (although every day is a marvelous day in the galley!). My day began at 0400 with a crazy bagel-making session with Dan, our Junior Sheriff Officer of the day (also known as our student assistant steward of the day). We served breakfast on the hook, but by the time our “reminisce about your meals from Palmyra” (A.K.A. leftovers) lunch hit the tables, we were already motorsailing towards Hawaii’s Big Island. The oreo cheesecake we made for afternoon snack was a big success, and I’m sure LoLo’s chocolate chip banana bread for midnight snack will hit the spot for those who are standing watch during the wee hours of the morning.

Once our stir fry dinner was all cleaned up at 2000, my day in the galley wasn’t exactly over. Every night LoLo and I meet with our JSO for the following day in order to make plans for delicious meals and memories. Annie, LoLo and I just put the finishing touches on our meal plan for tomorrow. I can’t divulge any secrets (a steward never reveals her plans), but I’ll just say that Annie is beyond ecstatic to share some of her favorite meals with the ship’s company!

Every night around this time, I can’t help but wonder how I’m going to muster up the energy to put out another full day’s worth of meals. I feel that the students unwavering energy and enthusiasm for their time in the galley is what gets me through each passing day, and I thank my lucky stars for LoLo’s determination, giggles, and faith in my sometimes crazy half-baked ideas. I’d be lost without her and all the daily support from my shipmates!

Hugs and loves,
Abby Cazeault
Steward/Sheriff

Apr

19

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 18 April 2012
Current Position: Anchored at Palmyra
Course & Speed: At anchor
Sail Plan: Sails to be set in the morning
Weather: 27C or so, with an occasional light squall
Photo Caption: Ethan and Kevin go for a high five from the rope swing

The boat is still.

Phil has granted us a reprieve - one more night at anchor in Palmyra. Behind me, Annie expresses her amazement at being able to hop up and down in one place (“You can’t do that on a moving boat!”). Students work on their projects and shoot stars on the quarterdeck.

I love the boat at rest in harbor. Learning to splice line for sail ties. Listening to music and cleaning bottles in lab. Climbing down into Gene, the little wooden boat, to go rowing as the sun rises. Catching a ride to shore for a dawn patrol run. Eating dinner on top of the doghouse and trying to identify constellations. My body and mind appreciate the Seamans when it’s still.

It is a little odd, then, that one of my favorite things on Palmyra should be swinging back and forth above the water on a rope swing. The rope swing here gives a long ride without being scary. It employs two palms - one to hold the rope, the other to walk up until it gets too steep. Then step onto the float at the end of the rope and pendulum back and forth, back and forth, until you let go and splash down into the swimming hole.

Everyone ends up swimming here at some point during the day, often twice, drawn back from the bunker at the west end of the island, the flats on the north shore, the newly renovated airstrip on the island. And we climb the palm, drop into the water, and explore some more of the wild island.

We are incredibly lucky to have been able to visit this place, with its history, natural beauty, and rope swing. But for now, I am grateful simply for one more night in the harbor here.

The boat is still. 

Chelsea Liddell
Deckhand

Apr

18

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 17th of April 2012
Current Position: Palmyra Atoll
Course & Speed: Anchored in a lagoon
Sail Plan: None
Weather: Beautiful, afternoon showers that last for three minutes and then sun, so much sun
Photo Caption: Annie and I enjoying the world

Adventures on an island in the South Pacific: Anchored in the lagoon of Palmyra, it is hard to explain how wonderful of a world this remote island is. We seem to have stumbled upon a forgotten treasure. We’ve spent the past three days in a constant state of amazement, finding sweet snacks by breaking open coconuts and stumbling upon crabs the size of cats. There were late night manta ray encounters, the graceful giants attracted to the lights thrown by the dock, and the constant sound of nesting Red Footed Boobies in the trees. Each coastal beach offered discoveries and countless crab encounters. Slipping down into the offshore waters to snorkel, we found every color imaginable in the corals below us. Black tipped reef sharks swam by above while parrotfish ducked for safety from our excitement.

A quintessential sign welcomed us: Palmyra Island (population 8). Abandoned planes and wartime bunkers were waiting with secrets, small treasures and a few coconut crabs in the corners. Dadu, the legendary shark hunting dog, was there to welcome us the first day and took us on adventures in the shallows of the beach, sniffing out eels and fish for us to find. We climbed up giant palm trees to swing from ropes and to drop into the aqua waters of the lagoon. Palmyra is an island full of ghost stories and mysteries, and we had a chance to learn the local folklore.

We discovered a welcoming island, and the people that live here are even more so. A small world made up of scientists, volunteers, engineers, cooks and wildlife conservationists, the people have provided stories and good company. Palmyra is truly one of the most magical places on earth, each night filled with stars awoken by sunsets and interrupted by sunrises. We all feel so lucky to have shared in the history of this island. There is no doubt that the days we’ve spent here have been a highlight and a gift, and we can only hope to come back to this paradise again someday.

Anna Minckler

Apr

16

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 15 April 2012
Current Position: 5 deg 53.2’ N x 162 deg 5.4’ W
Course & Speed: At Anchor
Sail Plan: None
Weather: Clear skies, a light breeze, and no seas to speak of.
Photo Caption: Arriving in Palmyra

Today, we arrived at Palmyra.

I’m writing this just after twilight, after shamelessly wolfing down a delicious meal of chicken breast and green beans. I’d like to say that I ate while watching the night descend over this beautiful lagoon, but really my eyes were fixed on my fork and my food. I’ve already done a lot of looking on in awe today anyhow. And besides, I’ve still got two more nights to spend watching the sky, and the trees, and the birds, as everything goes dark..but then again, I want to memorize this place. I really want to spend every moment I have watching everything, and appreciating the gorgeous scenery and life that abounds here so that I never forget. I can’t imagine that I would ever forget a place like this, or the feeling I got when we slowly motored our way through the narrow channel that’s been cut through the reef, but still.these are the kinds of sights and feelings that I get paranoid about forgetting when I get older.

I don’t know If I can put into words the sights we saw when first arriving here and still do them justice, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to try. It was exciting just to see our destination on the horizon, but even more than that was the greeting we received as we got closer. There were a lot of birds for one. A lot of them swooped in surprisingly close to us, almost within arm’s reach, close enough to look into their faces and admire their plumage. It was a feeling of privilege to see birds up close like that after spending so many days on the ocean with only the occasional sighting of one circling our boat. There were dolphins too! Just as everyone had begun to line the rails to watch our approach to Palmyra they decided to pay us a visit. About 6 of them spent a good number of minutes playfully surfing off our bow. A better welcome I can’t imagine. We’ve had the chance to see dolphins before, but never quite so many. As long as they swam with us I watched them weave around each other and breach the surface for air revealing their glistening bodies. It’s because of sights like this that I never fail to have my camera on hand anymore. I would hate to miss an instant of their visit to go rummaging around in my bunk to find a camera.

I couldn’t seem to take enough pictures as we got close to the atoll. The definition of desert island most definitely does not do its green horizon justice. There were more trees than I would have imagined, and a lot more birds. They were everywhere. To say there were tons of them would be a gross understatement. As we reached the lagoon we could see their bodies speckled all across the sky over the islands, and at least a hundred of them surrounded the ship through our arrival to the lagoon where we are anchored now. But I think the most exciting part of all this is what I couldn’t see more than what I could. The atoll itself is beautiful and awe inspiring, but it’s what lies below the water that I’m most anxious to see. I was really jealous of Skye (one of our assistant scientists), who had the chance to watch from aloft as we motored into the lagoon. She was able to see tons of life in the water. In fact, every animal that she said she observed silhouetted under the surface were animals that I’d hoped to see here but hadn’t dared to expect to see. I’m really anxious for my chance to snorkel on Tuesday.

I could write a lot more about the scenery here and how excited I am to go explore it, but I’ve got other work I want to get done tonight so I can enjoy the atoll tomorrow. So, to everyone reading this: I wish you were here. And to my family and friends back home: I miss you all and I can’t wait to see you all again, even as beautiful as it is here.

-Jon Davis

Apr

15

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 14 April, 2012
Current Position: 4 deg 44.6’ N x 160 deg 32’ W
Course & Speed: 325 deg (NWxN) to Washington Island, then 290 deg (WxN) to
Palmyra. Speed: 9 knots
Sail Plan: Mains’l, Main Stays’l, Fore Stays’l and Jib (Four Lowers)
Weather: Beaufort Force 5 (Wind Speed/Direction: 20knots/ENE) (Wave Height/Direction: 6ft/NExE)
Photo Caption: Seamans at sunset while anchored at Christmas Island.

Day 17:
For a few of us, today began with quite a splash. While waiting for watch members to muster earlier this morning, one wave in particular made its way up and over the rails of the quarter deck, sending a strong showering spray of seawater directly overhead. Bittersweet laughter followed Poseidon’s lovely wake-up, all of us recalling our initial hopeless reactions before it hit. In terms of weather, the sun was full fledge as skies were mostly clear with an average temperature ranging around 27C(80F). The wind and swell however made our heading a “sporty” adventure. Spray misted the Seamans starboard deck for the better part of the morning as we headed up through the ITCZ and North Equatorial Current. The rolling action of the ship tested the sea legs of those maneuvering completing hourly logs, boat checks, science and other duties.

Today I was appointed to “shadow” A Watch Officer Theo on Deck. I was asked to make the more macromanaged decisions, the bulk of which came when science deployments were done. We stopped for a period of time in order for a CTD (Conductivity Temperature Depth) deployment to be made and then proceeded on at the specified speed for a sampling net (neuston) tow. Major findings from the neuston tow: Chaetognaths, Mysids and Copepods. During this time students from B Watch climbed aloft (above deck) for the first time on the trip. Anxious jealousy filled students grounded on deck. With Theo’s assistance and the backing of the rest of my watch, the morning was filled with collective efforts and beneficial experience for Junior Watch Officer training.

Saturday’s mark the weekly event: Field Day. Instead of class, watches pull out the gloves, mops and buckets to make the ship like new again. A Watch tackled the galley while B and C Watches conquered the rest of the ship, driven by motivational skits, music and sweets. A few hours later, the accomplished, mangy crew crowded the sparkling starboard deck looking out over Washington Island. Dolphins were kind enough to greet us as we passed which brought even more joy to the situation. This small island viewed from the deck was encompassed by dense forest upon a narrow beachhead. A couple of buildings scattered the coast and a radio tower was seen inferring the island was inhabited, but no sightings of people, boats or docks were made. From there our course was redirected towards Palmyra - the last major stop before our return to Hawaii. Expected to arrive sometime tomorrow evening, we are all eager and ready for another few days of Island exploration.

A truly wonderful first half of the sea component it has been, I’m excited to see how the rest turns out!

Steve Kyros

To Family/Friends back home: All smiles here. Hope everyone is doing well, miss and love you all. Can’t wait to reunite and reminisce!

Apr

14

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: April 13, 2012
Current Position: 3 deg 22.2’ N, 159 deg 31.7’W
Course & Speed: 315 deg per the compass
Sail Plan: Reefed Mains’l, Mainstays’l, Forestays’l, Jib, and Jib Tops’l
Weather: Winds NExN, Beaufort Force 5, Clouds covering the stars, no imminent squalls
Photo Caption: Red over Green, Sailing machine

Eight bells chime on the doghouse clocks to mark 2000 hours. “Log!” I say habitually, to indicate that we must log our mileage traveled over the last hour. We set the Jib Tops’l earlier on our watch, which Anna very capably ran. Phase Two has begun on board, when we the crew begin demanding more of the students. They shadow the mates and scientists and slowly begin to run aspects of the daily operations of the ship from sail evolutions to science deployments. We are making our way northwest towards Palmyra Atoll, and with the jib tops’l up and the wind building a little, Seamans coasts along at 7.5 knots (nautical miles per hour). The border between ocean and atmosphere is a dynamic, unpredictable environment, and you can feel Seamans handling it well, a barely restrained 140 ft steel animal cutting through wind and water simultaneously. Black waves chase us, and plankton bioluminesce in the froth of our bow waves. Clouds blanket the sky, then pass; the stars glint fiercely again.

We’ve had an unusually high number of birthday parties on this trip (hope yours was great, Saphrona!) and mine will come up in the next day or so. All told, the students seem happy, are safe, and are learning quite a lot. This makes me happy, and I consider that to be the best birthday present I could hope for, as well as the opportunity to be here in the central Pacific with them all. But maybe I’ll give myself another birthday present of an early morning rise to shoot stars with a sextant against a brightening horizon, and to watch as Peter Matthiessen puts it, “the sun coming hard around the world.”

Theo Collins
Third Mate

Apr

13

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: April 12, 2012
Current Position: 1 deg 51.2’ N x 158 deg 22.2’ W
Course & Speed: Southwest until noon, then Northwest at an average of 5 knots
Sail Plan: Mains’l, Mainstays’l, Forestays’l, Jib, Tops’l (and some motoring)
Weather: Light wind and waves, with squalls on the horizon
Photo Caption: Pelagic Shrimp from a meter net tow.

Today marks our first day back in the open ocean. It feels good, to those of us who are not seasick, to once again be surrounded by nothing but water and see only the horizon in all directions. We are all a bit tired, dehydrated and sunburned from the many hours spent ashore at Christmas Island. Returning to the normal watch schedule again may be a bit of a struggle but it is no doubt a price worth paying for such a remarkable visit.

When we left Christmas Island, we headed south, away from our next port stop in Palmyra, in search of the Equatorial Countercurrent. Invisible at the surface, this current is a fast flowing river that can be found between 75 and 175 meters deep. It moves water in opposition to all other regional currents at a rate of 2 knots (around 3 mph). The equipment we use to detect and measure currents showed us that today we had indeed found the Countercurrent. Those on the science deck then had a busy day, working late into the night to collect water and biological samples. One of our tows, a circular net a meter in diameter that is lowered to depth, returned exceptionally remarkable biological samples. Amongst the numerous specimens collected were a phronemid amphipod in a salp carcass (worth Google-ing), pyrosomes (brightly bioluminescent gelatinous organisms), squid and many mature shrimp.

And amidst a busy and tiring day of sail setting, science, squalls and reaching the southernmost point of our journey (around 1 deg 15’ N), one can sense the excitement building as we are another day closer to arriving at Palmyra.

And Gregs got a haircut.

Ethan Carotti

- Much love to all my family and friends back home. See y’all soon.

Apr

12

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 11 April 2012
Current Position: 2 deg N x 157 deg 29 W
Course & Speed: At Anchor
Sail Plan: None
Weather: Small breezes, temperature 27C and sunny
Photo Caption: Spencer, Chloe, Annie, Beryl, Greg, Justin, Kevin, Ethan and Chris with flowers and coconuts received in greeting from Kiritimati high school students.

Today was our last day in the Republic of Kiribati, for tonight we turn our back on this beautiful place. I must say I didn’t know what to expect when we first came in sight of this low lying atoll but it was nothing like I imagined. The first day we were here, myself and the others of C watch didnt get to see anything more than the shore because it was our job to watch our home and means of transportation, as well as contribute to its upkeep. We greased up some of the blocks, relashed the sails, and cleaned a bunch of our science equipment. After a day of hard work we were rewarded with swim call, which was just what we were waiting for. I even got my camera out and tossed it in for some awesome water angle action shots (yes, Mom, the camera is fine). The first night was a good change of pace, with everyone getting almost a full night’s sleep for the first time in a long while.

The next day was my first day on the island with the rest of my watch. Ethan, Annie and I quickly started our interviewing assignment with the Head of Electricity at the Government Center. We talked to him about how power is transferred around the island. Then after wandering about the island taking in the sights, we (Ethan, Mike, Diz, Annie, Steve and myself) decided to attempt to go snorkeling with some manta rays. After a few hours of wandering around, we finally found an outrigger that we could rent to take us out to the coral reefs. While we had no luck with swimming with rays, we did get to experience some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. We then got the guys driving our boat to take us back to our pier and to do a fly-by of our ship so we could show off.  Then came a night with two birthdays, and some awesome barbecue courtesy of Lord Nelson.

The last day on the island consisted of a wonderful sunrise complete with turtles, and then another trek onto the island. This time many of us went to one of the local high schools to continue our growing friendship with island students. They welcomed us with a few songs, and some amazing dances. They also put flowers in our hair and taught us a fun game with sticks, that was kind of like patty cake (I wasnt very good and my I- Kiribati partner and I shared many laughs). In a turn of events that none of us were prepared for, they gave us the floor, and we had to think fast to come up with some group material. In the end we made a good showing with such selections as America the Beautiful, the Star Spangled Banner, and the highlight of our repertoire, an impromptu a capella rendition of Stand by Me. Some of the high schoolers then got the chance to come back to the ship, and learn a little sail handling and about some marine creatures. Finally it was nice to get the chance to use the internet at the nearby internet capable shipping container. I know I’m not the only one that feels this way: even though the weather is nice and the scenery is beautiful, and the experience is wonderful, all of us miss home. It was nice to have a little piece of connection back to our friends, family, and loved ones. It was also nice to let them know that no matter how much fun we have or amazing things we see, we will not forget them, and we will come home.

Tonight we prepare ourselves and the ship for the next part of our rigorous but worthwhile journey with a through ships cleaning, courtesy of A watch, and general preparations to sail. 

Kevin Dennis

Mom, Dad and Monty, I hope you are doing well and I love all of you. Becca and Brain (see what I did there?) keep getting ready for the big day. Colin can’t wait to see you again bud. Juli, I miss you, I love you and I’ll be back home soon.

Apr

11

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 10 April 2012
Current Position: 2 deg N x 157 deg 29’ W (Christmas Island, Republic of Kiribati)
Course & Speed: Anchored
Sail Plan: None
Weather: Light breeze in the east, sunny with patchy cumulus clouds Photo Caption: Jon and Dan enjoying the hospitality of the Kiritimati natives: a fruit we had never seen before called panadas (at least, we think that’s how it’s spelled…)

Wow. All I can say is WOW. Today has, no exaggeration, been one of my top birthdays thus far (way far up there with the camping in the yurt and the surprise party in the Black Squirrel). We on C Watch got our first taste of land this morning, and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect birthday present. The sun was bright (REALLY bright- and now so is my skin! Sorry, Mom, I tried my hardest not to get burned!) and the ocean was gorgeous. Jon and I started out by investigating the snorkeling and beach combing scene of Christmas Island, and were not disappointed: bone-white coral sands, iridescent turquoise water, fabulous seashells (even a whole pile of giant clam shells!), a picnic lunch under laden coconut trees… I still have to keep pinching myself that I’m actually here, in one of the mythical places they sing about in “South Pacific”- I’m truly falling under the spell of Bali H’ai!

The heat on the beach was blistering, so we cooled off a bit in the internet café onshore, where we were met up with Dan, Justin, and Lolo. Once we had sated our desperate needs for social media, Dan, Jon and I decided to walk to Banana so that Dan could buy new flip-flops, and to see what there was to be seen. We got about fifteen minutes down the baking road when a local man pulled up alongside us offering to give us a lift to Banana, which we eagerly accepted. His name was Teboko, originally from the Kiribati capital, Tarawa, and has lived in Tabwakea Village here on Christmas now for eight years. We got to know him pretty well, since it turned out that Banana was a lot further than we expected - thank goodness we didn’t walk all that way, or else we would have missed the boat back!

Teboko drove us inland, through acres and acres of coconut trees, past a camp for copra harvesters. For those of you who aren’t familiar with copra, as I wasn’t until yesterday, it’s dried coconut that is pressed for its oil, and it’s one of Kiribati’s main industries. Piles of coconut husks and dried coconut chunks were laid out to dry in the extreme heat, and in amongst the trees, the copra workers rested from the heat of the day in the shade of their palm huts. Everyone smiled and waved as we passed - I haven’t met a single grumpy person here on Christmas! And why be grumpy if you live in such a lovely place as this?

When we reached Banana, Teboko briefly stopped to talk to some of his business partners, then drove us to his relatives’ compound nearby. Here, a young man with long hair shinnied up a tree and chopped down a huge green fruit, about the size of a beach ball, for us. The fruit, called a panadas was composed of segments roughly textured like a pineapple, that could be pulled off individually to reveal a yellow core which could be eaten. We were each given a chunk and were told to scrape the yellow part off with our teeth. It was very stringy and had reminded us of a sweet, unusual-tasting carrot. Teboko then drove us to his own home, where he presented each of us with a huge, perfect cowrie shell. Such generosity I have rarely experienced, and we all wished we had a way to repay his kindness besides buying him a couple Cokes at the local market.

Back on board, and after having gone for a quick swim at the pier with Casey, Anna, Christophe, Steve, Kevin, Diz, Jon, and Dan, the wonders continued: a barbecue on deck complete with Christmas lights, Swizzle toasting and drinking, ice cream sandwiches, and singing with guitars. This truly was an absolutely “beautiful day in paradise,” to quote Captain Phil.

Beryl Kahn

To Mom, Dad, Gustavo, Adelaide, and Chiquita, I wish you all were here! I miss you all and love you so much! Thank you for your birthday wishes and can’t wait to see you in a few weeks! Lots of love to all my friends too, SLC and elsewhere.

Apr

10

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 9 April 2012
Current Position:  2 deg N 157 deg 29’ W (Christmas Island, Republic of
Kiribati)
Course & Speed: Anchored
Sail Plan: None
Weather: E Force 1 winds, seas calm, occasional cumulus and cirrus clouds; roughly paradise
Photo Caption: SEA alums rise quickly in the workplace. Justin, aloft on the foremast, is now a high achieving deckhand with us on S240 (don’t worry Mom, he’s securely clipped in).

Merry Christmas Island!

After accidentally hosing the ship’s flux capacitor with WD-40 while crossing the international date line.. we’ve somehow sailed straight BACK to Christmas! Nearing our first solid land in eleven (albeit perfect) days of sailing was celebrated yesterday afternoon with a boat-wide Easter egg scavenger hunt and egg-dying, Christmas and Passover cookie decorating, and a prize to the first person to shout ‘land-ho!’

We came within sight of Christmas at almost exactly dawn, and were anchored with cheery immigration/customs officials pouring over our passports by 1030. While one of our three watches (one third of the ship’s crew and students) stayed aboard to work on small maintenance projects, two watches went ashore for a day of white beaches and green lagoons. Greg, Anna, and Chloe snorkeled with sweet manta rays and did a lot of waving to small children. Paul, Adrienne, and Laura Dismore caught a ride into the town of Banana and jumped off the pier into eighty degree bathwater.

From the ship Kevin played does-it-float with his new waterproof camera (it does) and Beryl enjoyed the late afternoon swim call. Playing cards on the quarterdeck tonight many of us saw something I’ll never forget - a bottlenose dolphin chasing a huge school of fish, which would jump out of the water in the hundreds less than a few leagues away from the ship.

Christmas Island is arguably the world’s largest coral atoll and is one of the less populous islands of the Republic of Kiribati (pronounced keer-ou-bas). Coconuts are more numerous than people (some ten thousand), who are warmly communicable and easy going if not always punctual. Trivial pursuit ringer: local currency is the Australian dollar.

Reindeer, catchy holiday tunes, and fruit baskets? None yet. But we’ll keep the cookies out.

Hydraulically Yours,
Michael Wood
Assistant Engineer

PS. Hi Mom, Dad, Tracey, and Rachel! Mimi and Papa hope you are well.

Apr

09

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 8 April 2012
Current Position: 2 deg 30.6’N x 157 deg 34.9’W
Course & Speed: 170 deg per ships compass at 8 knots
Sail Plan: mains’l, mainstays’l, forestays’l, and jib
Weather: sunny with occasional squalls
Photo Caption: Greg & I enjoying the beauty of the Pacific Ocean. we are a spec compared to the open ocean.

There are no words to explain the peace and paradise that we are in right now.  It has been so amazing sail handling “Momma Seamans” and truly taking in the beauty of life at sea.  As a student simply interested in the biological sciences, I have found myself becoming so well rounded with the diversity of interests on the boat and the various backgrounds of all of my shipmates.  It is a once in a life time experience to be able to group so many individuals into isolation with no internet, cable, or distractions - it is like the world is revolving around us only.  We are able to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with our teachers; imagine office hours whenever you want! How amazing is that?  I believe that all of us have found our little piece of paradise, especially now that all the seasickness is officially over.  We can fully take advantage of using the lab to collect data from 800 meters deep or more, finding organisms that some of our leading scientists have not even seen.  It is so motivating to see Skye excited with all of our new findings even at 3 am in the morning. 

Our watch schedules seemed unbearable at first but now we have all become so accustomed to them.  You have great shipmates that show great accountability so that you never miss a class, meeting, meal or even a fish caught on a line by Greg that will be prepared and eaten for dinner!  So delicious! Today I tried my first super fresh fish and I must say you “land walkers” are truly missing out, I love living on the sea especially for this!  Our chefs are absolutely amazing! Today Abby, Lauren and assistant Beryl made fresh sugar cookies that were shaped under the Christmas and Easter theme. You ask, why these themes?  Well, today was Easter for us so we celebrated with an Easter egg hunt around the boat leading to delicious Easter candy of all varieties; Daniel dressed as a bunny with bunny ears the entire day, and an egg decorating station along with a cookie decorating station appeared following afternoon class.  However, this was not our only holiday!  Today was also Christmas Eve as tomorrow morning we will be pulling into Kiritimati, or “Christmas Island!” We are so excited; especially my watch who is on dawn watch therefore we will be the first to see land! It has been so long but we are about to embark on something so amazing. Captain Phil gave us a great orientation of the island today and all I can say is that we are about to be some serious explorers, who knows what we will find but be sure that we will share it with you.

A lot of us talk about how eager we are to share this experience; I can honestly say I can’t thank my parents enough for giving me this opportunity. It has been nothing but amazing. We are going to an island that gets a cargo ship 3-4 times a year, there is one hotel and one general convenience store. It is quaint and we hear it is absolutely beautiful on the island.  We are definitely getting closer to the island because today we saw “traffic” or another vessel at sea; there were actually two, most likely fishing vessels. We also deployed the ARGO float, this device is a great honor to deploy or send into the ocean, it goes down 1000 meters collecting temperature, salinity and other sea data using satellites when it comes back up.  For us science lovers, this is serious business! Today I even presented about fuel, water and energy usage on our vessel; this is relatively important to our cruise being that the concentration of it is renewable energy.  When all of us go back home to the States, our parents will be so proud of their cheap water and electric bill because we now know how to monitor our usage so well!

We all are doing so well out here at sea: we know how to handle sails, be a helmsman and most importantly be great shipmates.  I always see a smile everywhere I turn on this boat, everyone is so appreciative of what we are experiencing and relatively humbled.  We are at peace, we are happy, we are healthy, and we are very tan! The positivity is endless here and I would not have picked any other group of people to be with! Don’t worry; we are in great and experienced hands!

I have to make sure I say thank you to my parents and I love you guys so much! I miss you and tell Carl, Khalil, Courtney, Colby, and Connor I said hello and “sissy” will be home soon with many surprises for them!  Talk to you all soon and just know that I am in complete bliss.

love Chloe’

Apr

08

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 7 April 2012
Current Position: 3 degrees 53.8’ N x 157 degrees 33.4’ W
Course & Speed: 165 degrees per ship’s compass at 5 knots
Sail plan: Four lowers with a single reefed mains’l, JT, and tops’l
Weather: NE Force 4, Seas 5 feet, Scattered Cumulus Clouds
Photo caption: Shrimp and flying fish that visited us late Saturday evening.

We had a full day today!  Today was kind of like those endless summer days where you pack in so much activity and by the end of it, you get a moment to sit with a cool breeze and realize just how exhausted and content you are. Yesterday was cool and drizzly, but walking up on deck this morning, you couldn’t have ever guessed.  There was a moderate breeze, powerful sun (almost directly overhead at noon) and calmer seas.  As Captain Phil said, it was “too perfect.” 

Today was Field Day, which is the day that rolls around once a week when we all get together and spend a good 2 hours cleaning the MUNG from our little floating city.  MUNG has been defined in many ways, by many people, and the most accepted definition is: not a liquid, but not a solid, of many colors, but typically gray, and may or may not be alive.  Its origins are mysterious, especially since it’s been 10 days since we’ve set foot on the dirt covered earth.  ‘A’ watch was in the galley cleaning above and beyond what normally gets cleaned.  ‘B’ and ‘C’ watches divided and conquered the rest of the accommodations, cleaning the overheads (ceilings), bulkheads (walls) and finally, soles (floors).  There is something old fashioned and romantic about getting down on your hands and knees and caring for this vessel that has carried us so far.  To top it all off, Abby, Lolo, Jon and Chris made pizza for dinner tonight, and it was a huge hit!

Not wanting to be stuck in the shadow of Field Day, Team Science had two new deployment activities we hadn’t seen before: an ARGO float and some squid jigging.  ARGO floats are autonomous oceanographic instruments that circulate the world’s oceans at 2000 meters and pop up to the surface every two weeks to transmit all the data they recorded on their way up.  About five feet tall and about eight inches in diameter, they are an extremely cost-effective method of gathering data.  Tonight, at the change of the watch, we activated and gently lowered one down to the surface. 

After we hove-to for our evening station, we turned on all the lights and pulled out the fishing gear to jig for squid.  There was quite a turn out, and we saw several squid swim by in the half hour we were fishing.  An innocent shrimp and a juvenile flying fish were dip-netted in the process and after meticulous scientific documentation, were released.  No squid fell victim to our brightly colored, sparkly lures tonight.  Better luck next time!

Jimmy O’Hare
Chief Engineer

PS. Hi Mom, Dad, Yiayia, Grandma, and Catherine! Christos Anesti!

Apr

07

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 6 April 2012
Current Position: 550.3 N x 15801.2 W
Course & Speed: 160 at 1 knot
Sail Plan: Shallow reefed main, staysls and jib
Weather: Winds E force 2, Seas 2. Cloudy.
Photo Caption: Chris, Abby and Lolo in the galley on the trips first pizza day!

Returning to the Seamans after my student trip last summer has been an enlightening experience.  My new role as Assistant Steward has given me an entirely new perspective of life onboard. Ive learned what an amazing amount of planning, provisioning and hard work goes into keeping the ships company well fed and happy.  I feel incredibly lucky to be working with our amazing Steward, Abby, who has taught me so much since our first day in the galley together.  One of the most enjoyable aspects of each day is working with a new student or deckhand assistant, who helps with all of the galley operations for the day.  A lot of students come with clear ideas of what they would like to cook for their shipmates, and I have found that you can learn a lot about someone by sharing stories about great food! Weve made such varied things as homemade bagels (with Anna), sweet and sour chicken (with Annie), Tahitian vanilla & coconut Mahi mahi (with Christophe), some beautiful cinnamon rolls (with Justin) and Norifumi Furikake seared Skipjack tuna (today with Paul)! Each day, the galley crew turns out 6 meals, so you can imagine the variety of things than end up on perched on our gimbaled tables. Each day in the galley presents new challenges. Sometimes, the day reefer bursts open of its own accord and spills it contents, or a jug of molasses slips off of its shelf and oozes all over the sole. In those situations, I have been amazed to see how a positive attitude can be a powerful tool - and our student assistants have been an amazing demonstration of that. Ive spent more time laughing these past nine days than I ever thought possible, and I have all of my shipmates to thank for that. Even with the early wakeups (0430 for me tomorrow!), I find myself looking forward to every day, and I cant wait to see what fish Greg catches for us next!

Lauren Hill (Lolo)
Assistant Steward

P.S. Happy Birthday Mawma!!! I love you oodles! And lots of love to Ashley, Jim, Aunt Linda and Aunt Tracey! I miss you guys a ton!

Apr

06

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 09 April 2012
Current Position: 7`58.701 north, 158`36.9 west at 19h00
Course & Speed: 7.7 knots! Going on 155 degrees
Sail Plan: jib, jt, forestay`s, main`s stay and main`s sails
Weather: nice day with a cloudy moments bringing us some squalls
Photo Caption: View of the quaterdeck in the late afternoon sun.

Hello everybody,

Today was a other one in paradise, starting when we caught two fishes (tuna) early in the morning around seven o`clock. The class was replaced by emergency exercises - I think we are all ready now to respond at any critical situation. What I will remember the most came from our captain who said: “what is the best way to survive at a man overboard? It`s to not be the man overboard!” Very simple thing but it mean a lot. We had a good forecast for sailing with a good wind (force 6-7) from the ESE and small swell (4 feet) coming from the same direction. It permit us to go at the end of the day at 7.7 knots!!

Participer a ce voyage est une incroyable experience. Nous apprenons a naviguer, pecher et travailler avec l`ocean tout cela dans la bonne humeur, et ce n`est que la premiere semaine!!

A bientot,  merci et maururu (Tahitian) Friendly, the Tahitian boy of the team   Christophe MICHEL

Apr

05

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 4 April 2012
Current Position: 947.6 N x 15853.7
Course & Speed: 160 at 5.5 knots
Sail Plan: Shallow reefed mainsl, mainstaysl, forestaysl, jib, jib topsl
Weather: Winds E x S, force 4, seas 6. Clear, but with squalls in the area
Photo Caption: A watch cheers on their shipmates during the line chase.

Day 7. Line Chase & Sunburns. Since coming on board, the students of S240 have been dutifully learning all of the lines on the Seamans, over 80 in total. With the aid of each other, the crew, and the ever-helpful pinrail diagram, the students successfully prepared themselves and no one was left stumped. It all began around 1330 after ships meeting with each watch lined up on the quarterdeck. The mates headed forward to judge while the scientists stayed ready with cards, each labeled with the name of a sheet, halyard, downhaul, jigger, etc. Once the chief engineer was established on the foredeck, hose at the ready, our chief mate Brian gave the command to begin. Speed walking forward but careful not to run (for fear of the crab walk), we hunted down our respective lines and then returned to our watch on the quarterdeck so the next student could go, relay style. Once each watch completed their deck of cards (pick-up lines and tan lines included), Abby and Lolo brought up some baked brie for afternoon snack. Overall it was another excellent day free from squalls as our GPS latitude continues to slowly tick down to Christmas Island.

I first joined the Seamans in Tahiti on February 1st for S239 not knowing I would have the opportunity to stay on as a deckhand for S240 and get to sail with another group of dedicated students and talented crew. Its only been one week but as everybody adapts to life at sea its pretty clear that this is going to be an incredible trip - the time and miles continue to fly by. With Ethans birthday, no class, and my day as assistant steward tomorrow, I think were all looking forward to another beautiful day of equatorial Pacific sailing.

Justin Lawrence
Boston College
Deckhand

Mom & Dad, love and miss you guys, Im coming home eventually (really, promise). Shout out to S239 too, love to all of you wherever you might be

Apr

04

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 3 April 2012
Current Position: 1148.3 N x 15859.8 W
Course & Speed: 170 at 6.8 knots
Sail Plan: Reefed mainsl, mainstaysl, forestaysl, jib, jib topsl
Weather: Some cloud cover with Beaufort Force 4 winds - a beautiful evening
Photo Caption: Casey holds a baby flying fish.

During mid watch last night (thats 1900-2300 for all you landlubbers) Anna, Casey, and I were in lab with 1st Assistant Scientist Skye Moret, and things got a little wacky. Our first job was to complete the nightly midnight Neuston tow. Neuston tows are the scientific deployments that occur most often on the SSV Robert C. Seamans, and they involve tossing overboard a 20-foot net that skims the surface of the sea. The net stays in the water for half an hour, covering approximately one nautical mile. Over the course of that nautical mile, over 3000 bathtubs worth of water flow through the net, and all the marine organisms in that water are collected in a jar attached to the end of the net. Because many marine organisms dont come out to play until dark, Neuston tows sometimes yield very little biomass.

To our great delight, that wasnt the case last night. After retrieving the net, we dumped the contents of the jar into a bucket and were surprised to see a giant mass of thousands of hyperiid amphipods (small, semi-translucent purple zooplankton). Once we sorted through all the biomass, we also found a very small Portuguese ManOWar, a baby flying fish, and several phronemid amphipods. (Phronemid amphipods were the basis for the aliens in the movie “Alien.” They might be small, but they look freaky!) By the time we finished processing the data at 0245, we had all gotten a little loopy, and our sleepy-looking friends from B Watch were startled by our exuberance. But thats what mid watch lab shifts are for: stumbling out of bed and getting psyched about science!

Laura Catherine Dismore (sometimes known as Diz), deckhand

ps - Hi parents! LOVE YOU. Im not too sunburned . . . yet.

Apr

03

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 02 April 2012
Current Position: 13 degrees 53.8’ N x 159 degrees 11.2’ W
Course & Speed: 160 degrees at 7.2 knots
Sail Plan: Main sail, main stay’sl, fore stay’sl, jib, and jib top’sl
Weather: Scattered cumulus clouds on the horizon with blue skies above. Seas up to 5 feet with wind gusting to 20 knots from the east
Photo Caption: Sunset following the afternoon watch.

With the trade winds on our port quarter, blue sky above and five of our nine sails flying high, today was another day in paradise. During afternoon watch today, 1300-1900, we set the jib top’sl for the first time on the trip, increasing our speed by almost two knots! For the last few days we’ve only been sailing with a maximum of four sails due to our not-yet-acquired knowledge of the Seamans. However, with a deadline to keep and ocean to cross, we threw up the jib top’sl and slapped on some extra speed.

Immediately after the jib top’sl was raised, Greg managed to pull in his second tuna of the trip, being almost three feet in length! Greg proceeded to bludgeon the fish to death once it was hauled aboard the ship, putting it out of its misery. There was no ceremonial eating of the heart this time around, but with two fish caught in five days, who knows what the rest of the trip will bring.

Every day at 1430 we have ships meeting, otherwise known as class. The first 20 or so minutes consists of a science lab report and navigation report given by members of the morning watch, followed by the captain’s report. After, we transitioned into the main focus of the class; today this was discussing our research projects with our assistant scientist mentor. Randy is the Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) group mentor, which I, Casey Tremper, Dan Pollak and Kevin Dennis are a part of. There’s a substantial amount of data to analyze for our project, but it’s extremely hard to focus on studying when you’re sailing the tropical northern pacific with such a great group of people. After five days at sea, land is becoming a distant memory, and the sea is ever more inviting.

Chris Mangieri

P.S. - Shout out to Lolo and Abby in the galley, our cooking experience yesterday was one for the books! Even though the kitchen was a war zone, with 11 foot swells, we managed to deliver pizza of epic proportion.

P.P.S. - Mom, I love you dearly and am having the time of my life! Try not to worry as I am in good hands.

Apr

02

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 01 April 2012
Current Position: 15 degrees 38.9’ N x 159 degrees 23.2’ W
Course & Speed: 175 degrees @ 6 knots
Sail Plan: mainstay’sl, forstay’sl, and jib
Weather: Clouds in the distance, mostly clear, 5 foot seas, 20 knot winds from the E
Photo Caption: A calmer view out one of the Robert C. Seamans’ port holes (yesterday it only looked like a washing machine).

It’s been a nice day for the sea weary.  Our morning was started with tasty homemade bagels, props to the stewards, with cream cheese, smoked salmon and kippers. No worry of scurvy on this ship. It seems that everyone’s sea legs have taken stand and the wind and waves have backed off a little bit.  Our first deep sea CTD was deployed today, to a depth of 2000 m.  We are all learning quickly how to manage the scientific operations and how to handle the sails.  Soon, we will be responsible for managing all of these operations with ideally zero guidance.  A baby flying fish was caught in the neuston net last night, those things we see skipping around the waves all the time.  It was interesting to inspect one up close.  If other people are in the same boat as me, which I think they are, we have forgotten about the whole school aspect of this wonderful program, and realized we have work due tomorrow and in the upcoming days. There was a pod of jester whales conveniently spotted during one of the lunch sittings off our starboard bow.


We are all doing very well and enjoying our time here to the fullest so far. It seems it is just beginning now that we all have the ability to stand comfortably. We look forward to being able to climb the rigging, after the proper procedures of course, and to see some megafuana.

Spencer Herda

P.S. Love you mom and dad. Hope things are going well. I am doing great. I’ll talk to you soon.

Apr

01

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: March 31st 2012
Current Position: 18 degrees 51.5’ N x 158 degrees 40.8’ W
Course & Speed: 180 degrees at 7 knots
Sail Plan: Stays’ls and Jib
Weather: Sun and clouds
Photo Caption: Fresh fish on the Robert C. Seamans.

This evening we caught our first fish of the voyage: a yellow-fin tuna of such notable size that it cannot be recorded in this document. I pulled the beast over the rails with a handline as the sun was beginning to dip towards the horizon. Adrienne swiftly ran to her bunk to retrieve her filet knife from beneath her pillow to bleed the beast, scoop the innards, and extract the beating heart. As I had never caught a tuna before, she passed it to me. It did not taste particularly terrible but I was definitely satiated after the first bite. Skye performed a stomach content analysis on the monster and we found some partially digested flying fish inside! I took no bites of this. Jimmy and Brian prepared a delicious raw tuna dish with sesame and avocado that was enjoyed by many.

Gregory St. Aubin

Mom and Dad, I am swell! Tell Nana her hat keeps me very warm on nightwatch.

Mar

31

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 30 March 2012
Current Position: 19 degrees 12.3 minutes N x 158 degrees 37.1 minutes West
Course & Speed: 180 degrees, 6 knots
Sail Plan: Sailing under the mainstay’sl, forstay’sl, and jib.
Weather: Force 5 and sunny
Photo Caption: View up the foremast

In our first 36 hours at sea, the students of S-240 are pulling together into a great crew. Fellow deckhand Paul and I are on B watch, working with students Chloe, Rui, Greg, Chris and Spencer. Second mate Saphrona and third scientist Randy round out our watch. Today was our first full day at sea, and first afternoon watch from 1300 hours until 1900 hours. Sailing on blue ocean without land in sight is a delight, and the seasick members of our crew are slowly working into their sea legs. It’s been more than three years since I was helmsman on RCS, but once learned the skill comes back fast. I dusted off my skills last night during midwatch, steering by a pair of stars hanging off the starboard ratlines on the mainmast. My helmsmanship is much improved, but my sunscreen application procedure could use some practice. Despite wearing my long-sleeved shirt I accumulated some pinking around the edges. While most of my mind is distracted by adjusting the heading, watching the clouds and looking at the compass, part of my mind is free to soak up the landless vistas and feel of wind against my face. The ships wheel is teak, the spokes polished by legions of former students’ hands. Unlike most other vessels, the only way to steer the RCS is from that wheel on deck, there is no autopilot or compass steer.  As fellow deckhand Paul would say, “Sometimes, don’t you feel like you’ve won?”  Staring at blue skies and blue seas with the sun-glowed sails flying it is hard to disagree.

Adrienne Wilber

P.S. Happy birthday Mom! Much love to you and all family and friends.

Mar

30

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

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Date: 29 March 2012
Current Position: 20° 58.7’ N, 157° 57.5’W
Course & Speed: course 180 degrees, speed 6.2 knots
Sail Plan: main staysail and fore staysail
Weather: clear skies with 22 knot winds coming from the east, 5 foot seas

Photo Caption: Small boat lowers for a man overboard drill.

Today we set sail from Honolulu early in the afternoon, but before we set out there was a lot to do. The morning started at 0430 where some people went to a local fish auction to see how it operated. The fish smelled really bad, and it stuck to some clothing all day. After that breakfast was at 0620 and then the real day began. The rest of the morning was filled with emergency drills, line handling exercises, and generally getting prepared to sail later in the day.  The start of the trip was very calm and it was a beautiful day; everyone stayed on deck to help with the initial setting of sails. After one sail was put up by example, the students got to do one by themselves. After about fifteen minutes in which we realized that we didn’t know any of the lines, we finally put up our second sail. 

Once we actually made it into some more open water, the wind picked up and the waves turned into larger swells. Though they were only a few feet in height it was enough to make most of the students start to feel the not so pleasant effects of sea sickness. This was quickly ignored though in order to experience thing like our first sunset, and the first rotation of the watch schedule. This is just the start of what will be a great trip; everyone is already getting along and starting to work like a team.
Personally I can’t wait for a first full day at sea.

Kevin Dennis

P.S. Mom, Dad, Siblings, and Julia: I’ll be home soon, I love you all, and I hope you have as much fun as I am these next few weeks.

Mar

29

S240 Energy & the Ocean Environment

Date: 28 March 2012
Current Position: Docked at Pier 36, Honolulu, Hawaii
Weather: Mild temperatures and clear skies

S240 students arrived in Honolulu and joined the Robert C. Seamans this afternoon - all are in good health and excited to begin their voyage. The past few hours have been filled with meeting members of the ship’s professional crew, learning about the routines and nuances of life onboard the vessel, and participating in a series of orientation sessions. Students have already been introduced to deploying scientific equipment, ensuring that the ship is in good operating condition, how to clean up following meals, and the basics of our navigation resources. Tomorrow brings an early morning visit to the local fish market, further orientation, safety training, and - most exciting - an afternoon departure!