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SSV Robert C. Seamans Blog

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Dec

23

S244 Oceans & Climate

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December 23, 2012
Aboard Robert C. Seamans, Papeete Harbor, Tahiti.

We docked in Papeete earlier this morning, met with the ship’s agent regarding various port logistics, and then gathered on the Quarterdeck to say our farewells. Many warm sentiments and hugs were shared. The students are now moving their belongings off the ship, and heading on to what lies next. Several are flying home soon, to be reunited with their families for Christmas and to get back to school in time for winter term. Others have the opportunity to spend some time enjoying this delightful corner of the world before heading home.

Whether it’s two days or two weeks from now when each student gets home, they will all eventually return with abundant tales of our six-week cruise. Their response to the “What was it like?” question will probably first be a stream-of-consciousness response of seemingly garbled impressions. It’s been a busy six weeks. The students have worked hard, enjoyed the company of a great group of shipmates, visited places they’ve never been before, and sailed on an epic sea voyage. Everyone has been challenged at some point in the cruise, either physically or mentally. Or both. There has been much laughter and a few tears. But all have persevered, and found strengths within themselves that they didn’t know they had before.  Listen carefully to their stories, enjoy their photographs, and ask questions about what they have learned and what they have experienced. They have much to tell.

Although the first things you may hear about are stories of the sailing or of their shipmates or of the places we visited, each student also worked hard in the science lab and completed a scientific research project that they had designed in Woods Hole prior to sailing. With completed research proposals in hand, we began our voyage in Honolulu, which lies at the southern edge of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a nutrient-poor region very low in biological productivity. Six weeks later, we ended our voyage in Tahiti, approximately 3000 miles to the south, located within an analogous setting in the South Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Between these gyres lies the equator, with its associated complex and dynamic current system.

Among the many things we studied during our cruise were these equatorial currents, some results of which you can see in the accompanying figure. It displays Acoustic Doppler Current Profiling (ADCP) data, illustrating the magnitude (speed) of the eastward vector of motion of these ocean currents from the surface to 400 meters (about 1200 feet) depth. The yellow/red regions indicate eastward current motion (shown as positive values on the scale along the right side of diagram); the bluish regions indicate westward current motion (negative values). The complexity of the currents in the equatorial region is immediately obvious. Sailing from one gyre to the other, from north to south (right to left on the diagram), we crossed a series of strong surface currents: the eastward-traveling North Equatorial Counter Current (yellow/red blob centered at about 6oN), the westward-traveling North and South Equatorial Currents (blue regions in the central portion of the diagram), and the eastward-traveling South Equatorial Counter Current (yellow region at about 11oS). And if that weren’t complicated enough, the yellow/red blob centered at the Equator at depths of 100-250 meters is the subsurface Equatorial Undercurrent, traveling eastward underneath surface currents that are traveling to the west!

The academic program the S-244 students completed is named ‘Oceans and Climate: The Role of the Ocean in the Global Carbon Cycle.’ These equatorial currents, with considerable seasonal and annual variability, present substantial oceanographic boundaries with large consequences. Everything from the transfer of heat to the distribution of nutrients and living organisms is, to a large extent, determined by this current system. Since the movement of carbon is influenced by all of these factors, this region is an excellent natural laboratory for studying many aspects of oceanic carbon cycling. The students took good advantage of this opportunity, working individually or in small groups on chemical, physical, or biological oceanographic projects of their own design. I’m very pleased with what they accomplished, and I look forward to reading their final research papers over the Christmas holiday season.

Farewells to shipmates are always difficult, and I found this morning’s to be particularly so. However, I take solace in knowing that, thanks to the miracles of modern communication, it will be relatively easy to stay in touch. I expect great things of this group of talented students as they go on with their lives, and I look forward to hearing of their successes in their future endeavors. It has been a true joy to sail with them!

Smooth sailing, following seas, and happy holidays!
-Audrey Meyer, Chief Scientist

 

 

 

Dec

22

S244 Oceans & Climate

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December 22, 2012
Location: Anchored in Baie Opunohu Morea, Tahiti
Winds:  SSE Force 1
The Plan:  0300 on December 23rd, Anchors up for Papeete Tahiti

0300 -  I was woken up for Dawn Watch, the last watch B watch has to stand in our normal schedule. I wake up with the following thoughts:
- I am JLO for Dawn watch
- I was JWO yesterday afternoon where I split the 1300 to 1900 watch with Ashley so that we would both get 3 hour shifts
- We sighted land yesterday!!
- During my watch yesterday we saw a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon: a water spout astern of us.
- Yesterday during watch on the bow the waves were crashing everywhere drenching me and all my shipmates handling the sails- those furling the sails on the bow sprit actually touched the surface of the water.
- AND our research papers are due at noon today.

0500 – I manage to finish Simona and my research paper. Simona revised our 20-page paper last night, and I just corrected the formatting this morning.

0600- B watch was greeted by the sunrise between Moorea and Tahiti. The end of our journey was literally in sight.

0700- Watch was over and we were free to eat Abby’s homemade bagels for breakfast. But our last dawn clean-up (DC) was to follow.

1000-1200- The day went on with scrambling to get papers done, eating snacks and a delicious lunch, and taking naps after an exhausting morning. By 1300 we were anchored in the Baie of Opunohu around the corner from Tahiti and safe from the trade winds.

1300- We all cleaned our bunks after a mad dash to pack our smelly clothes. After cleaning our personal spaces and furling the square sails for dock presentation, a much-needed swim call awaited all of us. The gang way was set up as a plank off the ship for jumping. The water was so warm and salty it was better than any stall shower and deck shower. Racing shipmates around the boat and using the surf board is always good exercise and a lot of fun.

1900- Diner was then the next event on the schedule. Ribs cooked on the outdoor grill, mashed potatoes, and salad were served. And canned soda was available for the first time on our cruise.

2000- The Sea Semester tradition was the entertainment for the night. This tradition a ‘Swizzle’ is named after the famous Bermuda rum drink that used to be served at the end of ocean voyages. No alcohol was served tonight – every one can rest easy- only a delicious Abby’s creation fresh pineapple drink was served. The ‘Swizzle’ consisted of readings by Carla and Tristen who both told us to appreciate our time spent on the Robert C. Seamans. Carla’s reading was science oriented, with the message that we are now all aware of the work involved in collecting real data for a research project and to never undermine such work in our futures. Tristen’s reading was actually from Michela’s passage from her journal in a previous blog. Still…hearing it the second time it rings so true and so close to all of our hearts. The MCs for the night, Rebecca and Maddie, were as funny as ever re-singing Tall ships were meant to sail (Starships were meant to fly) and conducting skits of what it is going to be like for all of us back on land. Seth and Carla performed a song from the Lion King. And Michela and I performed a sea shanty titled Seamans Boys and Girls (original tune of the Cape Cod Girls sea shanty). The whole crew was laughing during our performance, and I could hardly keep singing. Jenn told us stories of her nana in the form of two truths and lie- since she told a hilarious and I mean hilarious story about Mindy the other day during class which turned out not to be true. And Matt showed us how to tie special knots as Laura served as his arms which was the best skit of the night.

But the best part of the Swizzle was the Secret Santa (actually, Secret Sailor) exchange. Some gifts were sailcloth knit notebooks and bags, jewelry from our port stop islands, and coconut shell cups. The night was perfect! We all stayed out on the quarter deck in the rain to finish our swizzle festivities; after all, we have travelled through many squalls before.

This whole Swizzel description of entertainment acts is out of order but I am sure you get the general picture. Another festivity of the night was celebrating Michela’s 21st birthday with a fudge brownie Sunday made by Abby. So delicious!!

It has been quite a day and we are all exhausted. But right now at 2100 it is time for some reminiscing-  looking under full light at our Secret Santa gifts, writing our evaluations of the crew, writing thank-you notes to various crew members on ship and on shore, looking at trip photos, writing last minute deck reports or for me writing the S244 last blog entry. Eventually, off to bed we all go at some time or another as we all have to share an hour of anchor watch tonight. Anchors up at 0300 for our 0800 arrival to Papeete, Tahiti tomorrow morning.

We can all leave our baggage aboard while we shop in the huge local market!!
For viewing pleasure, I have appended the sea shanty that Michela and I performed tonight- everyone on the ship is in this song!!

-Darcy

P.S.- Hi Mom, See you sooooo soon!! Love you and miss you so much , Darcy 

So heave her up me seamans boys
Heave away, haul away
Heave her up me seamans girls
Heave away haul away

Seaman boys sure do care
Ryan and them protect our lare
Mary and Mindy sure got pissed
When all their pteropods were dismissed

Seamans girls sure are funny
Ashley is Audreys little honey
Ivan sure loves radar fixes
He sure does love country mixes

Seamans boys sure are weird
Wills whistling glares should be feared
Simona and Souha sure love to travel
Going to New Zealand in the mountain gravel

Seaman girls sure are tall
Carla drives the rescue boat without a fall
Rebecca and Hayli sure hate the focsle’ smell
A lot about phytoplankton they sure can tell

Seaman girls sure are smart
Juliana and Melissa love to fart
Brendon is the only student staying on the boat
Everyone else going home or vacationing in a Tahitian mote

Seamans girls sure are hotties
Especially Laura’s celestial bodies
Jack and Katie a lot of counting they had
Myctophids and salps sure made them mad

Seamans girls are so strong
With Pamela we all belong
On RCS we know all the tricks
There’s nothing that Seth cannot fix

Seamans boys sure got knowledge
Especially Mickey, he just graduated college
All the girls sure got long hair
Darcy French braids without a care

Seamans crew come from all places
Including Tristen and Ashley…those Vassar faces
We are all just great singers
Matt knows Disney songs at the tip of his fingers

Seamans blondies sure are tall
Off the plank Marta did fall
Some of us are just sure are so silly
Jenn tells jokes like a freaka dilly

Seamans girls have more than looks
From sheriff Abby we learn to cook
Two of the girls already had short hair
Maddie and Leona fake pho-hawks theyd love to wear

Seaman girls sure love bacteria
Ariel and Sam almost had hysteria
Some of us are just so burned
Jack especially his back did turn

Seamans boys sure love to fish
Trevors caught 5 tuna his wish
All of us about the ocean we care
Michela and Shendoah found many a boundary layer

Seamans crew S244
Sailors by choice that’s for sure!


Photo Caption:  On our way to go snorkeling in the Bay at Raiatea.

Dec

21

S244 Oceans & Climate

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December 21, 2012
Location: 17 20.1’S by 149 41.4’W
Winds: E x S Force 4
Course ordered: 105 PSC
Enroute to waypoint off Moorea, avoiding squalls

LAND HOHOHOHO!!! Just in time for CHRISTMAS! But wait. is anyone alive out there??

Happy end of the world, y’all land lovers! Today was a day full of great apocalyptic humor. We took advantage of every pun, even down to our meal preparation. Thanks to Maddie our lovely Assistant Steward and the always lovely Abby, we had a-pasta-lypse for lunch and a-taco-lypse for dinner. Even our presentations took a turn for the apocalypse, if you will. Brendan (B-dawg as he is commonly referred to onboard) and I presented a deck report on emergency communications here on the Seamans. This was clearly essential to understanding how we could survive the apocalypse in case we had to abandon ship, battle a zombie with our last sextant, or had no other means to navigate in our lifeboats. Very crucial stuff.

Between the humors there was and continues to be a flurry of emotions onboard. As students we are struggling to finish our research papers. I hear grunts of frustration, tears of anguish, astonished and defeated faces. Ramen and oatmeal are the late night smells coming from the main salon. We definitely have our blinders on until the finish line here. I know I will be relieved when my project has been completed, but I also dread its ending because I know it will come with the end of so many other things.

As I stood on deck watch during this last evening watch with my fellow C watchers, I came to the realization of how little time we have left here and how precious that time is. It is a time to enjoy and appreciate. Enjoy each other’s company, enjoy setting that jib one more time, enjoy singing at the bow, and appreciate the present. Soak in all the little things about this ship that have made it home for us for the past six weeks; lock it into our memories so we never forget all that we have accomplished here.  I hope, once projects begin to trickle in that those furled brows turn back into smiles. I smile because I feel knowledgeable, for my individual skills are strong. I smile because I am confident in the skills of my shipmates. I smile because I am proud of our ship and the journey we’ve all made together as I watch the lights of Moorea flicker in the distance.

Congratulations S-244! We did it!

Now the only question is: are the lights still on in Moorea because the world didn’t end or because the zombies have actually taken over and refuse to believe in global warming either?

-Ariel

Photo Caption: Standing forward lookout

Dec

20

S244 Oceans & Climate

December 20, 2012
Location: 17 07.5’S by 150 48.5’W
Log: 2776.8 nm
Sailing full and by under the 4 lowers
Winds: ENE, 3
Seas: E x N, 4
Cloud coverage: 8/8, Cu/St
Temperature: 28.9 C

We are sailing!

It is great to be back on the water after some time ashore the island of
Raiatea. We are a few hours out and are heading toward our next destination,
Moorea. Our final day in Raiatea consisted primarily of relaxation and
enjoying what this island in paradise has to offer.

This morning began with an all-hands muster on the quarter deck at 0730 in
preparation for getting underway. With the ship=92s company assigned to
general quarters, we made a quick and smooth transit from the dock to sea.
Watching the land grow distant is refreshing as we look ahead to the open
water. There’s nothing like being out at sea.

In order to enjoy days at sea, we need to keep our ship in pristine
condition. This afternoon was our last field day of the trip. The ship
needed a good cleaning, especially since she tends to get a bit messy during
port stops. Every member put in a great effort to remove the mung that had
built up. A lot of hard work and teamwork goes into keeping mama Seamans in
top shape. The care of our ship always comes first: Ship. Shipmate. Self.

Being back at sea is wonderful. This is my second voyage with SEA and it has
been an adventure. As a deckhand I have the opportunity to expand and
improve my sailing knowledge. I am what Captain Pamela calls a “Johnny on
the spot,” an able hand ready to assist in any of the ship’s needs. I love
being a deckhand. It is a privilege to work alongside the professionals on
this ship, and I am happy to contribute to such a community.

I cherish every moment at sea and know that I will for the rest of my life.
‘Wasn’t that the best of times, that time we were young at sea.”
-Joseph Conrad

Thanks for reading!

-Melissa Ibarra

Dec

18

S244 Oceans & Climate

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18 December 2012
Docked in Raiatea, French Polynesia

The Problems of Paradise - Matthew Ecklund

Rising early for our day ashore, the kindness of our Captain shines through the darkening clouds.  As the ship’s company gathers sleepily on the Quarter, we learn that a canoe awaits us, preparing to guide us through sacred waters, into the interior of Raiatea.  Sleepy eyes turn to smiling ones, as we learn that the typical port and starboard watch rotation will be out of effect today, thanks to Pamela’s offer to maintain the deck watch for us all. 

Our guide ashore greets us with open island arms, a blood-orange flowered shirt, and enough enthusiasm for his ancestral home to fill us all with pride,  just to be visiting.  “You’re Crazy!” he exclaims of “Europeans” who swim for pleasure, drive themselves to the brink with stress, and live to work, rather than his personal credo that one should work to live.  It’s a convincing sales pitch.  We file one by one into a forty foot long outrigger canoe that he has prepared for us as the vessel for today’s voyage. 

Immediately the rains begin to fall, warmly at times, sometimes a chilly downpour.  The shower is unrelenting.  Throughout the morning and afternoon, the island and we wash clean the dirt acquired so easily at sea.  It feels an island baptism; a fitting welcome to the holy interior of this paradise as our swift behemoth craft - the typical seagoing navigational vessel of all Polynesian nations - navigates upstream.

We witness towering mountain peaks, veiled in mists and clouds and fog. Velvet waters, subdued by the deluge, surround our craft.  Sailors take to the bow (the best seat in the house) and we dangle our feet above the clear green waters of the river, eager to catch the first glimpse of a Dilophosaurus or a towering Brachiosaurus, whom, we convince ourselves, could never have truly gone extinct in such a place as this.

Ashore, we purchase hand-made sarongs from local artisans.  We breathe in deeply the sweet scent of vanilla growing in greenhouses on verdant mountainsides.  Our guide advises us to never marry in the islands; instead, to have many partners and share one’s love with a community.  Then our river craft is bestowed with bushels of bananas as large as the students, fresh coconuts, breadfruits, and gourds so numerous and heavy that their mass weighs us down.  The Coast Guard would require forms, scales, papers and the heavy legwork of bureaucracy before we could get underway; here, we simply cast off our bowline and head for the ocean.

As visitors, guests, we come ashore in another place, the ancestral sacred ground of the first peoples to come to Raiatea.  We touch ancient stones. We learn their history.  Some of us climb immense trees, which offer a difference of perspective.  We pay honor to our ancestors in this place of deeply imbued meaning.  And each of us takes a little time for reflection.

Soon it’s time to begin our journey home.  As our canoe begins making way with the power of a massive churning Yamaha, bow watchers bellow the old shanty “Rollin Down to Old Maui” as we plow forth into the rain.  We are exhausted, full, happy.  Then, our outboard dies.  Ironically, we find ourselves adrift in the staple vessel of Polynesian exploration, the paragon craft of ocean-going travel, without a single paddle.  No matter.  Moving back slowly with the currents allows for a more peaceful view of this incredible place, one which we ourselves took to the sea to find, crossing oceans, navigating by the stars.  If these are the problems of paradise, let’s hope we may all be so troubled.

Photo Caption: Prime seating at the bow of the outrigger canoe.

Dec

17

S244 Oceans & Climate

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17 December 2012
Docked at Raitea

YO HO YO HO, island life for me!

Unlike the vast majority of our days at SEA, today we got the opportunity to see what is happening back on shore. We are currently docked, our first time during the entire trip besides waiting to clear customs two days ago, and we are still a little wobbly. The feeling only comes when you are standing still and you realize you are swaying slowly back and forth.

Dawn watch this morning was gorgeous, watching the sun rise over our inlet in Taha’a, and hearing and seeing the day creep into our deep night. It started with a hesitant lightening of the clouds and then the birds started singing, cutting through a silence we have not heard since the boat was last at anchor. The clouds lifted and lightened and our surroundings came into focus. And we woke up to find ourselves. in paradise. We’re not speaking figuratively, this magical place we are in just keeps getting better. 

For our time at anchor (and now in port) all the students and crew are divided up into two watches, Port and Starboard, and we take turns working on the ship and playing on land. This morning was a special treat, as the entire crew was invited by the mayor for a special greeting at the main marketplace in town. Town officials welcomed us with speeches and a mountain of fresh fruit, which included papaya, passion fruit, pineapple, bananas, and coconuts. After the speech, Port watch headed back to the ship to take care of Mama, while Starboard watch headed off to test our new land legs on a hike up the hill behind town. After a short hike that still managed to pop some hikers’ ears with the crazy thrill of a change in height above sea level, we celebrated with coconut ice cream in town. Good thing at least one girl on this boat knows how to use a guide book right. We were all sweaty but were happy that the sweat was a result of physical exertion and not a byproduct of sitting, or sleeping.

The island emanates the sweet smell of flowers. We could smell it during our first approach a few days ago, even when we were still miles offshore. Along our hike we saw a multitude of species and colors. Walking through town we saw many people with decorative head wreaths and the constant flowers and smiles are everywhere. A fun cultural thing we learned is that where you tuck a flower really matters here. If you put a flower behind your left ear, your heart is taken, and behind your right ear, you’re ready to mingle. We enjoyed trying to come up with various placements to describe other relationship statuses.

It was exciting to be up high today, to see our boat from afar, and appreciate how far we have come. We worked extremely hard to get from Hawaii to here and it makes every little experience that much sweeter. Tonight we watched the tropical sunset while eating another delicious dinner on deck after an afternoon of hard work on the boat. It was amazingly peaceful and fulfilling. If you are missing us, just remember that we are drinking out of coconuts with flowers in our hair while getting tan. Enjoy the snow!

A Limerick By Two Tired Girls, Late At Night

Although we’re really sweaty
For hot, small bunks we’re ready
Tied up at the dock
After a day that did rock
It’s sure easy to rest steady

-All of the tropical love from Rebecca and Maddie

P.S. Laura says happy birthday to her awesome brother.

Photo Caption: It’s a hard knock life - Starboard watch far above sea level on the island of Raiatea

Dec

16

S244 Oceans & Climate

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16 December 2012
16 43.8’S by 151 26.4’W
At anchor off of Taha’a, French Polynesia

Oh, what a day! Waking up and going on deck for breakfast with the beautiful island of Taha’a surrounding the Seamans is such a beautiful sight. We all had little time to relax, however, as today we had our poster presentations with our draft results for our research papers. The majority of the morning was spent gluing on figures and writing out our (I may just be speaking for Mary and I here) newly altered research methods and finalizing data processing. While most of us still have much work to do, the posters looked great, and it was nice seeing how everyone’s research is coming along, especially if their hypotheses were supported by the data we have collected.

After presentations, we took a ride on the rescue boat and small sail boat to a nearby reef to snorkel! As a coral lover, this was a treat for me as well as the rest of my shipmates. Besides the diverse coral species present, gorgeous reef fish as well as eels, urchins, clams, and a small reef shark were spotted.

After a mini-diving competition off of Gene, the small sail boat, we decided to paddle back to Mama Seamans. Trevor and Matt took to the paddles while serenading us with lovely Italian songs. We had a special dinner guest when we returned, a lovely local man who earlier in the day brought us fresh mangoes and coconuts. Nothing compares to freshly picked island fruit!

Tomorrow morning we’re heading back to dock in Raiatea and we will have a chance to explore the island for the next two days before heading off for our final leg of the trip to Tahiti. As the holidays draw nearer, I personally plan on scoping out some one-of-a-kind gifts for family and friends.

Love,
Mindy

P.S. Miss and love you mom & dad. Tell Beth, Lily & Rafi that I love them and can’t wait to snuggle! Jeremy, I love you to pieces and can’t wait to be with you again! (I still want to see Perks). I have no idea who else is reading this from my family/friends but heeeeyyy guys! You’ll all be getting postcards eventually, even if they’re mailed from New York if I don’t know your address…still counts!

Photo Caption: Jumping off of the bowsprit with Taha’a in the background.

Dec

16

S244 Oceans & Climate

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15 December 2012
16° 43.8’S x 151° 26.4’W
At Raiatea, French Polynesia

Hello again!

Land ho! This morning we docked alongside Raiatea. It is a breath-taking sight and we are all extremely excited to be giving our science research poster presentations tomorrow so we can explore this beautiful land afterwards. It has been an amazing journey thus far and it blows my mind how fast it has gone by.

As our trip dwindles down with just one week left, I have been gathering my thoughts during our time that remains aboard.  In my journal I came across a quote that was given to me by a close friend and SEA Alumni, Dana Wilfarht. She wrote this quote in a journal for me while I was ashore in Woods Hole. She hinted that if read ashore it may not make much sense.

Now that my voyage is almost complete, I figured now was a perfect time to go back and reread that quote. My perspective after reading this quote on shore is equivalent to waking up in someone else’s dreams—a whole new world with much unfamiliarity. This perspective is equivalent to ours once we first boarded the Robert C. Seamans; a new way of life that we all grew accustomed to and familiar with. I share this quote with you not expecting you to make a direct connection to it, but to be able to connect with your loved one aboard and get a grasp of their overall experience as a sailor.

“In the talk tonight, I began with my own experience. We had a good laugh as I recalled my romance expectations before coming on and my indignation and frustration once I was aboard. When I mentioned how everyone else seemed to have it more together, it emerged that each one of us had thought that about all the others. Everyone felt scared and stupid, angry, too, when asked to do things that we clearly weren’’t ready for. What sticks in my mind most of all, I said, was the longing for something—anything—to just stay put. For the deck to stop moving, for the food to just sit still on the table, for the compass to stop swinging every time I took the wheel. Looking back, it seems clear that the mates did not expect us to be competent. What we were meant to learn in those first few days, what mattered most was not a particular set of skills, but a new way of thinking. Being mindful, we were being trained to notice everything to make that level of awareness so habitual that it became unconscious, to pay attention in the same way that one pays out line. ‘How fast is the helm responding?’ Should it be so quiet if the generator’s on? Why is the sky to the east that particular color? Is there always condensation in the day tank gauge? Why is the life ring light stored upside down?’ To get in the habit of answering them yourself, what you gained in the process, when allowed to make your own mistakes, was self-reliance, the ability and the desire to follow through.

Along with such independence, learned alone, came a second lesson: interdependence. All those rules: the way dishes were done, being woken up for morning meeting even when there was nothing to discuss, having everybody drink the same strength coffee.

But again, the main point wasn’’t the rules themselves nor was it to demonstrate someone’s authority. Rather, it was to break down the habit of mind that makes exceptions and desires special treatment to replace it with a habit of heart called unity. People around the cabin nodded. Bit by bit, I added, we began to accept, without having it defined, a code of service: of doing whatever you are doing well. Not because someone will check up or will reward you, but because the ship’s very functioning assumes that individual commitments be sustained in private for the public good. So much of the pressure on land is toward seeking loopholes in order to excel; at sea it is toward refusing them in order to belong.”

-Harvery Oxenhorn
Tuning the Rig

Fairwinds,
Michela

P.S. The holidays are even closer than they were the last time I wrote. I cannot wait to be reunited with family and friends in just a matter of 10 days after I finish exploring Tahiti and Raiatea! I love and miss you Mom, Dad, Justin, Paolo, and Tiger! See you all so soon!

Photo Caption:  Arriving at Raiatea.

Dec

14

S244 Oceans & Climate

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14 December 2012, 2300
Location: 15 25.4’S by 151 23.8’W
Hove-To Outside the Society Islands of French Polynesia

Lately we’ve been treated to a multitude of shooting stars. We were perfectly satisfied with the handful we were seeing each night watch until now, and one might have predicted that our satisfaction would dissipate over time. But it hasn’t, and the last few evenings have been very special.

I counted thirty shooting stars during a one-hour stand as lookout on the bow. More shipmates than ever have been staying awake during the few precious hours they have to sleep between watches. We sprawl across the deck or atop neatly furled sails and gaze skyward for a good long time. I’ve always been a big believer in resting up, but the nights’ beauty has enticed even me to ignore my exhaustion. We can rest with our eyes open under this canopy.

Every so often, a tremendous burst crosses the sky. And we all stop while the ship and the heavens carry on.

I don’t think the brightness of the stars here compares to that of the desert. It doesn’t compare to the temperate mountains, either. The atmosphere here in the tropics is thick, and it weighs on us warm and heavy.


But if the best part of stargazing on Mama Seamans isn’t brightness or clarity, what is it? Certainly there’s something special. I think it’s our point of view. There is nothing to obstruct it - nothing but our rigging and canvas, that is. Plus, the view is ours and only ours. We share it only with one another. We can’t help but be in awe of where we are and the nightly portraits painted above us.

This morning, I witnessed my first “star frenzy.” At nautical twilight, which fell today at 0450, my watchmates armed themselves with sextants and scurried about the quarterdeck “shooting” stars: Canopus, Sirius, Procyon, and more. With our sights, we can figure our location. It was all good fun, practicing navigation techniques that have been surpassed (in ease, at least) by things like GPS.

Then came the best hour of dawn watch, both those little faraway stars and our own nearby one give us light together. It’s a beautiful and harmonious moment, and one I’m sure we’ll all long for once our journey on Mama Seamans has ended.

-Hayli

P.S. Happy belated birthday, Ophelia! I hope you enjoyed The Hobbit. Know that I’m more than a little disappointed about not being able to watch it with you. I hope your friends treated you to a birthday fit for a sweet one like you.

Photo Caption: Laura and Rebecca Getting Their Science On

Dec

13

S244 Oceans & Climate

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December 13, 2012
Location:  13 45.3’S by 151 17.7’W
Winds:  NxE, Force 3

This is a blog of a different color - I’m not officially a student, but that doesn’t mean I’m not learning new things every day.  I am the Third Assistant Scientist on board the Seamans and this is my first trip on an SEA ship in 11 years.  I sailed as a student in 2001 on a ship that SEA no longer owns, the Westward.  Eleven years . eleven YEARS!  There is not much that I remember from my student cruise (except that I enjoyed it!), so I am relearning it all - sail handling, science, steering, the works.  I love when someone shows me something new on the ship, like how to lead the coarse sheet or what the cool purple bugger is that we pulled out of a net this morning.  My full-time position is miles and miles from here in Woods Hole, MA at SEA headquarters, but I was sent here to the middle of the Pacific for my first order of business - to learn.  And here is a smattering of the things I have picked up.

1.  First and foremost, this . is . hard.  How hard you ask?  Oh, I’ll tell you.  First, there is the vomiting (puking, hurling, blowing chunks, feeding the fishes, vomming (that was a new one to me, thank you Jack), tossing your cookies, and a number of other colorful phrases you could use to describe it).  You already heard from many of the students about the woes of seasickness so I won’t ramble about it, but let’s just say that I basked in its glory for about a week before coming to a pharmaceutical balance of sorts and now I am thankfully able to do my job.  In addition to the ills of the sea, there is walking at an angle, bumping into things, hauling sails, and doing everyday things in constant motion.

2.  This . is . great.  Yes, it is hard but oh so worth it.  You forget about the movement after a while, enjoy the hauling of the sails and the bumping never stops but the bruises are trophies.  Oh, and the seasickness is under control.  Now I can enjoy it all - the sunsets, the sunrises, the stars, the breeze, the flying fish, the big blue, the sing alongs, the sing alones, the public book readings, the food, and the science.

3.  Your sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, and friends are all pretty great.  I’m impressed with the hard work and dedication I see towards their projects, their sail handling, and their camaraderie. It reminds me of why I wanted to work for SEA.  This great program attracts great people.

4.  Tofu can be cooked about 20 ways more than I previously knew how.

5.  Coconut water from Kiritimati Island is thirst quenching.

6.  The stars in the sky are more brilliant here than anywhere, rivaled only by the bioluminescent stars of the sea.

7.  There is a magic to tall ships that I appreciate and am hoping to understand better the more I sail.

8.  There is no giant line in the middle of the ocean marking where the equator lies, much to my disappointment.

9.  Time moves pretty fast on beautiful days with fair winds, but incredibly slow on seasick ill-feeling days.

10.  The phrase “fair winds and following seas” is music to my ears.

Thanks for tuning in and don’t worry about your family and friends - everyone on board is well.

T.A.M.
-Juliana

Figure Caption:  The crew of S-244.

Dec

12

S244 Oceans & Climate

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December 12, 2012
Location: 11° 35’S by 151° 20’W
Winds: NE Force 5 and 6

Hello from the South Pacific subtropical gyre!

Every day here aboard this wonderful ship is unique in its small moments, colored by each interaction with our ship, our shipmates, and the environment surrounding us. Today, like most days, has been quite eventful.

My day started with a 0220 dawn watch wake-up that I don’t exactly remember due to my sleepy daze. After mentally waking up as much as possible, I reported to the dark and starry deck for my first watch as a Junior Watch Officer (what we call JWO). The night before of planning out an expected scenario of our watch left me excited to run the ship from the organizer’s side. However, on a moving ship out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, nothing ever goes quite to plan! With the rolling seas and the Captain’s orders, we got to set and strike many sails (including the jib, forstays’l, tops’l, and mains’l), as well as gybe to a starboard tack (basically move the end of Mama Seamans through the wind and sail with her other side facing the wind). It was an adventure figuring out how to get everything done! While this was happening, the sunrise was slowly bringing us soft light. Using sextants, we all took fixes on the stars and Venus at dawn and successfully computed !
our position, only about 2 nautical miles off! Overall, it was an awesome dawn watch.

After sleeping for a few hours, I got to relax with some time off watch. Some of this was spent counting phytoplankton under a microscope for my science project (they’re quite pretty up close), but a highlight was getting to take the helm for a few minutes. This wasn’t just any steering—we were sailing with the “full stack,” the vertical stack of square-shaped sails you might expect to see on pirate ships (specifically, the course, tops’l, and raffee), and I got to wear the “full stack hat” to complete the experience. Nothing quite makes my day like steering a tall ship as a pirate!

This evening I had watch where I was in the lab helping with deployments of our science gear. Specifically, we deployed two of our nets to catch little critters (sometimes including small flying fish, Portuguese men of war, little jellies, and more). The nets both lit up with bioluminescence when in the water, making for an awesome light show. We also deployed our carousel that takes water samples as we send it down to 600 meters depth. As we pulled this huge piece of equipment up out of the water, some squids followed to the surface to say hello. It was quite difficult not getting distracted by these cool foot-long pinkish squids while we were pulling our carousel out of the water, a task that requires incredible focus and coordination. All in an exciting day of work here on the ship.   
Being here in the Pacific on this ship truly is a mind-blowing experience—every day I’m reminded why I’m here. A few nights ago on forward lookout I watched the moon rise over the ocean, its spherical form moving up away from the horizon with each passing minute. Seeing the moon as a planetary body instead of its usual white circle reminded me exactly where I am, and how lovely it is to be sailing aboard Mama Seamans.

- Simona

PS: Hi mom and dad, I love you both very much and miss you! I hope a Christmas tree is up and smelling wonderful, and that the grove and our backyard birds are doing well. - Simona

PPS: Rebecca sends hugz and lurve to Dinsy and the shh.. fam

PPPS: Hei alle samen der hjemma!! Haape daakk har ein flotte vinter saa langt og at alt e vel! Eg har det heilt surrealistisk fantastiskt! Glede meg te se daakk igjen snart Love Marta

PPPPS: Shout out to Papa Halloran who had knee surgery today, I love you Dad! – Maddie

Photo caption: A morning on dawn watch.

Dec

11

S244 Oceans & Climate

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December 11, 2012
Location: 10 05.7’S, 151 27.8’W
Wind: NNE Force 6

Ahoy, landlubbers!

I write this post with many thoughts in my head after a long day of cleaning.  It was field day!  After my watch did an interpretive dance to get everyone in the cleaning mood, each watch took their respective nooks and crannies on Mama Seamans.  As A watch began cleaning the galley, it was apparent the sea swells had grown.  This got me thinking about the habits we’ve formed during our many days as sailors-in-training.  It is getting close to the time when we all head our respective ways, and it may be hard to break from these habits and they may seem strange out of the context of ship life.

For our families, here is a list of normal activities that occur on the ship that may carry over to our first few days or weeks on land. 

-Cleaning every three days after breakfast
-Deep cleaning at 1400 every Tuesday
-Moving our heads up and down to catch our food on gimbled tables
-Turning on red lights at night to help our night vision
-Running on one to two 4-hour naps daily instead of a full night’s sleep
-Repeating commands (every single one)
-Telling everyone when we go to use the head
-Eating meals at 0700, 1300, 1900, and snacks at 1000 and 1400 every day
-Letting others know where we’re going in the dark
-Giving a run-down of the weather when waking someone
-Grabbing foulies anytime a gray cloud is in sight
-Always having one hand free when walking up or down ladders
-Opening doors “with the roll” in order to avoid being smashed
-Sleeping in odd positions to avoid being jostled by the rocking motion of the ship

This is just a short, generalized list.  We’ve all been changed by our time on this ship, but we should be able to get back into the way of life on land eventually.  I, personally, can’t wait to share my stories with anyone who is willing to listen.

-Sam

PS - To my fam-bam:  I can’t wait to see you all.  Mom, I went out on the yards of the ship the other day (the t-shaped part of the mast).  Also, I jumped off a 25-foot pier into the water at Christmas Island!  So many stories to tell!

PPS - To Carla’s mom:  How many of these things does Carla do when she’s home?  She’s been our Assistant Scientist for the past two weeks, and she is awesome!  She was telling us about how you search for her name in blog posts!  Hope you read this one and get a good laugh!

Picture caption:  The Robert C. Seamans anchored at Christmas Island and the sunset on our last day there.  The tiny white speck on the left is “Gene,” our small sailboat on board.

Dec

10

S244 Oceans & Climate

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December 10, 2012
Position: 9 09.4’S x 151 53.1’W
Sailing under the four lowers with a deep reefed main

Dear Lubbers,

Every time I look back on the last few days, it seems like an eternity of sail handling and lab work has passed by. That has never been truer than now, as I reflect back on the first few days of JWO and JLO. Students have an unprecedented amount of responsibility now: JWOs and JLOs have to design plans for their watches, command their shipmates and ensure that everything gets done. Even though we’ve been on many watches at this point, actually commanding a watch has a steep learning curve. My first stint as JLO taught me that simultaneously planning and executing three plans at once during a hydrocast deployment in the dark is a lot harder than our excellent mates and scientists make it look. Despite the difficulty, the JWOs and JLOs are not alone. Even through stammered commands and mental blocks, I had my reliable shipmates to carry me through the watch, and eventually everything turned out great!

As an unusual northerly wind pushes us closer to Raiatea, students find themselves confronted with rougher seas, stronger winds, the rigors of JWO/JLO, and worst of all: last-minute science project work (*screams*). Yet even these cannot stop us from having fun and feeling at home on mama Seamans. As things get more intense, I feel especially close to my shipmates: I have never been more reliant on such an excellent group of people.

I have my first JWO watch tomorrow afternoon, wish me luck!

-Brendan

P.S. Love to Mom, Dad, Conor, Sean, and Alex! I miss you guys a lot! I can’t wait to see you!

Photo Caption: C watch chillin’ on the headrig.

Dec

09

S244 Oceans & Climate

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December 9, 2012
Location: 6 42.3’ S by 153 41.9’ W
Sailing under shallow reefed main, mainstays’l, and a full stack (raffee, tops’l, course)

Tidbits:

1. Dawn watch was rather quiet in lab this morning.  Only two bottles on the carousel had closed, so there was little processing for mid watch to do, and even less for us at 0300.  So we labbies were released to deck or to work on our science projects.I scuttled to the quarterdeck and spent the remainder of watch working on celestial navigation.  At 0630 we returned to lab for turnover, and the following poetic account was delivered:

This starry night, not much went right
for wayward B watch souls

But one and two of Niskin few
did close tight and aright

The CTD, for you and me
on descent did record

C watch finished, work load diminished
no processing remained

Their deckies though did fall quite low
left Carla in her bunk

But up she sprung ,to lab she’d run
poor harried frenzied thing

With C watch scolded, we then holded
a dawn watch questionnaire

And that completed, we then retreated
to the snack-filled doghouse lair

Much time was spent in vast content
immersed in shooting stars

And each in turn, we soon would learn
would strike and set a sail

Thus dawn watch passed until at last
wake ups were shortly due

These were butchered, Others slumbered
‘til error became clear

Red faced, aghast, with eyes down cast
we humbly beg amends

Was not with ill intent, be sure
but ignorance of friends

With stomachs full of tasty gruel
dawn clean up did proceed

And now she’s fit, our lovely ship
but where’s the blasted wind?

2.  In time, the wind filled in to a force 5, and the squares’ls appeared in all their glory.

3.  Tonight marks the beginning of JWO - Junior Watch Officer - when students each take charge of the deck/lab for a watch.  Mates and assistant scientists stand by as damage control and prevention.  The first batch of JWO’s are currently across the gimbaled table from me, nervously cramming as much information as possible into their heads. 

4.  Key lime pie for midnight snack - yum!

5.  It is so nice to have the motor off.  The rocking motion of the ship when we’re sailing is distinct, and it’s easier to fall asleep.  One morning I crawled into my bunk at 0830 (just before we heaved to for a deployment) and when I felt the engine stop it was a sigh of relief as I nestled in for a nap.

6.  Each day feels like an age, yet each passes so quickly in retrospect. Yesterday feels like ten days ago, and last week feels like a month.  I suppose that’s much the result of sporadic napping.

7.  It’s 2100, we just got on station, and science is busy bustling about on deck; and it’s way past my bedtime.  So to all those reading this: Good night and fair winds.

—Shenandoah

P.S. At the risin’ of the moon, at the risin’ of the moon - the pikes must be together at the risin’ of the moon.

P.P.S. Happy 21st Birthday from the South Pacific, Bradley! Can’t wait to buy you a drink upon my return. Love you tons! - Mindy

Picture Caption:  Listening to Matt read Kon Tiki on the science deck

Dec

08

S244 Oceans & Climate

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Saturday 08 Dec 12, 2030
5 57.94’ S x 154 23.90’ W
Sailing under the raffee, tops’l, and course (!) and the jib and mainstays’l

The last few days have given us some fairly light winds. As a consequence, we’ve spent a lot of time motorin’ and even more time sweating and stewing in our funk. Does that thought gross you out? The wind is pretty essential to ventilating Mama Seamans. Today, we needed the projector for class, so all 21 of us and a few enthusiastic crew crowded into the main salon below. I have never sweat so much while doing so physically little.

My dear shipmate, Rebecca, just told me that the wind has picked up to force 4 and is north by west. I’ve been a little out of the loop today, because I was assistant steward and thus spent lots of time in the galley. These winds have given us the chance to set our square sails and run downwind. The sails are big and lovely; we haven’t set them much this trip. So cheers to good winds and good sailing.

The atmosphere on the ship is evolving rapidly these days. The changes are fueled by many things. We’re all beginning to realize that our days here are numbered. The poster presentations for our projects are just nine days away. That means our arrival alongside the Uturoa dock in Raiatea is also that close. Lots of processing and analysis lies ahead for us young scientists, and the tasks at hand are a bit daunting.

But we can’t drop everything and just “do science,” as we like to say. The ship demands our attention all the more. The winds are spotty and we’re in the vicinity of a handful of islands (affectionately called “rocks”). On top of this, we are about to enter the fearsome and exhilarating stage 3 of our program, the Junior Watch Officer/Junior Lab Officer phase. This means that for each 4 or 6 hour watch, all day and all night, one of us students will be in charge of deck operations and another student will be in charge of lab operations. We’ll still be carrying out orders from our Captain and Chief Scientist, of course, but we will be expected to direct the ship and our shipmates. Carla, one of our Assistant Scientists, joked that stage 3 is when she pulls out her book and beach chair and sunbathes on deck while we students handle everything. She was exaggerating a bit, but you get the picture.

I’m pretty wiped out from my day in the galley - not to mention sticky and more than a bit smelly. A deck shower with the freshwater hose awaits me. Once you shower under the moon and stars with nothing but sky and sea before you, you’ll never want to cram into a stand-up shower again.

Until later,
Hayli

P.S. Our steward Abby and I made a makeshift batch of Nanny Louise’s mocha truffle cookies for tonight’s midnight snack. They are already a hit.

P.P.S. “Hi Mom and Dad,” from Mary

P.P.P.S. Cousin hug from Rebecca

Photo Caption: Running downwind: our raffee, tops’l, and course, by Ivan
Duong

Dec

07

S244 Oceans & Climate

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7 December 2012
3° 59.6’ S x 156° 31.8’W

Dear family, friends, and blog followers,

It has been an exciting week! Now that we are all shellbacks after crossing the equator for the first time, we are buckling down on our research projects and crunching out data. Everyone is super excited about their projects, especially those that have finally realized they are actually doable!

I cannot believe how fast time is passing by. The first week we were at sea, I thought it felt like a month of being aboard; however, three days of miserable sea sickness might be the reason for that. Now that we are half way through, it feels like we just boarded the ship yesterday. It is crazy how much we have all learned and how we developed the skills it takes to sail Mama Seamans.

It is already a week into December, the merriest month of the year, and my shipmates and I are certainly getting into the holiday spirit as we continue to sail. Yes, we are without snow, eggnog, and door-to-door carolers, but we do not hesitate to belt out holiday tunes on the bowsprit.

This experience is certainly life changing and definitely one I am enjoying very much. I love our ability to do as much science as we want as well as mastering a new trade, ship handling. It has been an amazing transformation process for each one of us.

I was fortunate enough to write today’s blog in honor of my brother. Happy 28th Birthday Justin! I miss you, love you, and hope all is well in the newlywed’s household. I trust Court is treating you well and baking you tons of delicious holiday treats. I cannot wait to come home and celebrate with you!

I had better get back to calculating density and searching for barrier layers… HAPPY DECEMBER everyone! See you sooner than later!

Cheers,
Michela

P.S. Mom, Dad, Justin, Paolo, Tiger, family, and friends, I miss you and love you all and cannot wait to catch up in just a matter of 2 weeks! Also, I have been missing my RWU lacrosse girls and am looking forward to a victorious spring season!

A little added blurb from Ariel: Happy Anniversary to my wonderful parents! I’’ve been thinking of y’all on this special day and I’m sorry I am unable to celebrate with you! But I wanted you both to know that your strength, kindness, and faith in one another continue to inspire me every day.  Thank you for always challenging me, never forcing me to be conventional, and for this opportunity. Hope you had a wonderful day, I love you and I’ll be seeing you soon! Love, A

Dec

06

S244 Oceans & Climate

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December 6, 2012
Position: 3 27.036’ S x 157 20.607’ W
Motor sailing 1400 RPM; course steered 070; winds NE force 4; seas E 5ft

B watch, mid watch, sleep of kings (score), roll over, wake up to the sound of striking the mains’l , sit up, get up, lunch, afternoon watch, coffee, okay I’m awake, class, M&M’s!, back to watch, boat check, helm, bow watch, log, green flash!, watch turn over, dinner, too much too fast, breathe.

Okay, this is where we are now. We have dashed through the last 24 hours trying to keep all the balls in the air, can’t let a single responsibility drop, while being awakened at any and all hours and switching gears from deck to lab to bunk to downtime. Our routine and sense of time has changed with our location from land to a ship. Like space on the Seamans, our time is limited and all of it must be used very efficiently. So we reflect while on bow watch, caffeinate while at the helm, work out by setting sails, relax while processing lab work, and then do it over and over again. It’s a busy but rewarding lifestyle. We are always tired and hungry by the end of our watch, but also incredibly satisfied as we pass into the bowels of the ship through the dog house, on our way to a good meal and a cozy bunk.

Within the repetitive life cycle, we still experience special moments that draw our attention away from whatever we are assigned to and allow us to appreciate (capture?) the moment. Today, for example, we witnessed a green flash as the sun was setting behind us in the horizon. Everyone just stopped for a few minutes in hopes of experiencing this rather rare phenomenon.  And there it was! A beautiful green hue flashed before us as the bright orange disc disappeared behind the blue vastness. Star gazing has also been our chance to appreciate the open sky of the big blue. We muster on deck, following with our eyes fingers pointing to different constellations and planets, and marvel at the brightness of the Milky Way.  The middle of the Pacific Ocean provides us with an unreal vantage point; no lights besides our own for miles, the sky no longer a dark canvas boating distinct points of light, but it is varying degrees of fuzziness, no area completely devoid of stars. Borders between stars and void fade; it looks almost like a blanket covered in bioluminescent lint.

Speaking of bioluminescence, holy bioluminescence. Standing on the quarterdeck, we were able to spot the glow of the meter net when it was still 35 meters out. Filled with all sorts of remarkable creatures such as an eel larva, colonial jelly fish and so many salps! We also caught a few glimpses of beach ball-sized bioluminescent unidentified swimming objects in the waters around our ship, but no one felt the need to investigate them further.

Another way to stop time in a restless ship is to go aloft. After emptying your pockets and donning your harness, anyone is allowed to climb up either the fore or main mast after checking in with the mate on deck. As you ascend the shrouds, the buzz of deck activities dies and is replaced by the rush of wind. Continue further and our ship shrinks from our entire world to the small piece of floating steel and wood that it is. The world is clearly divided into two halves, the sea and the sky, our ship simply a blemish.

From so high, you can see everything that is happening on deck, from the bow watch singing to themselves, to the helm feverishly trying to correct their steering to return to course. There’s nothing really to do up there besides sit and stare. Soon your pulse returns to resting rate after the initial vertigo shock and you enjoy your bird’s eye perspective. We are a small ship in a big ocean.

Lots of love,
Souha and Leona

P.S. From Leona - Miss all my friends and family dearly, you’re in my thoughts every day. Thanks ,Mom and Dad, for letting me go on this ridiculous adventure. I wish I could say it’s quenched my restless drive but if anything, it’s simply encouraged it. And to the Blacketts, I hope you are doing well, I think of you whenever I don your sailing gear. I carry David on my shoulder wherever I go, I can tell he’s here, enjoying the wind in the sails. Xoxo. 

Photo caption: Leona looking down on the foredeck and bowsprit from the tops’l yards

Dec

05

S244 Oceans & Climate

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Location: 1 29.2’S, 157 41.0’W
Wind: ExN Force 4
Course: 130 PSC, full and bye

Today I was woken up at 0230 for dawn watch, not sure if I had dreamed our transition into shellbacks from pollywogs. I immediately touched the side of my head to confirm that I had actually chosen to shave off a small section of my long hair, about 15 inches as we crossed the equator as an offering to King Neptune. Still unsure about my new hairstyle, I brushed my teeth, put on my harness, read the night orders from the Captain, and headed to lab. I was the lab shadow today so I put on the lime green star suspenders and delegated what we needed to do in order to be the most productive. Mary went to the wet lab to process the latest neuston tow, while Sam and I worked on identifying zooplankton in the one hundred counts. About halfway through, Mary brought me a jar of myctophids that she carefully picked out, asking if I could count them, since they were for my project. I was naive thinking it wouldn’t take that long to count them since in previous tows the most caught was 19. Myctophids are little fish that swim to the surface of the ocean at night to feed, and they average three centimeters in length. So as I laid them out in petri dishes, Mary continued to bring me more. The final count was 97 myctophids in one neuston tow right around the equator. The bad news is I now have to identify the species of each of them under a dissecting microscope (can you say seasick?!); the good news is I have lots of new data for my project. 

Other groups also have lots to do with all of the data that needs to be processed. Projects are well underway with bacteria and viruses being filtered, salps being dissected, currents being analyzed and everyone is working hard. Unfortunately Leona and Maddie had to change their project because of the untimely demise in the alkalinity equipment. Since there wasn’t enough data to study the carbon flux of the ocean, Leona and Maddie are now looking at trends in the surface data collected hourly.

Due to an ankle injury that delayed my plans and put me on the Seamans instead of the Cramer, I didn’t really know anyone before boarding the ship. Before the trip began I was apprehensive about joining the class halfway through. They had already bonded and formed their own small community on shore, and I wasn’t sure how it would be joining them on ship. Well, even though I miss my shipmates from C-243 and I am bummed that I missed the Terry and Chuck show (Captain and Chief Scientist), this group of shipmates have been great. My apprehension was absolved as everyone was very welcoming and helpful catching me up on the different topics they covered on shore in S-244. I now have bonded with my shipmates and feel like I am a part of the group.

There have been a few emails back and forth to shore about my ankle, which is not always how I wanted to be in the lime light. Although today Audrey read me another email from shore that was about me, finally some good news! We were notified that I had been nominated for a national scholarship, and I better start working on my essay since I will have a very short two weeks when I get home before the deadline. I will try my best to fit it in around identifying all the myctophids, as Audrey predicts we will get 200 in tonight’s tow.

May your sails stay full!
Katie

PS. Happy Birthday Dad! I am happy to hear that you are continuing my birthday tradition at the speakeasy! Have fun!  Mom, Dad, Kevin, Joyce, Seth, Brittany and all my other friends and family I miss you all so much and I can’t wait to shred the powder at Christmas with a healthy ankle! See you all soon!

Photo Caption: Class photo in Poland!

Dec

04

S244 Oceans & Climate

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December 4, 2012
Location: 0 13.6’South! by 157 2.3’W
Course: 150 PSC
Wind: ESE Force 4

Ahoy, Polly-Wogs & Shell-Backs!!

Today was a day unlike any other in that I, along with the 34 other sailors on the SSV Robert C Seaman, sailed across the equator and we all (expect for the 6 who were already shellbacks) went from being mere pollywogs to strong, capable, soaked in South Pacific water and freshly hair-cut SHELLBACKS! Right about now my friends and family at home probably think I have gone off the deep end (literally). This is understandable because I would have thought the same thing up until just a few days ago when I learned what the heck a pollywog was. However, before I explain, I’m going to back up and go through all the other wonderful things that happened today. (And that is what my middle school English teacher would call suspense building).

At the start of today (0000), I was in the middle of lab. I was feeling somewhat queasy yet at the same time awe inspired as I stared down with a flashlight at all the little critters we retrieved from the Neuston Net. This included adorable tiny crab larvae that scurried about feasting on the plethora of even smaller critters condensed in the sieve with them. By 0300, my watch was relieved by dawn watch and I took a nap for 4 hours after which I had breakfast at 0700. After breakfast I worked on my final policy assignment before I had lunch at 1220 and watch again at 1300.

I like afternoon watch because it typically gets broken up by class time at 1430, but today was a special day – Field Day. No, it’s not the glorious field day we all reminisce about from primary and middle school. Field Day is a day of INTENSE cleaning. We break up into watches and tackle different areas of the ship. I, however, have become fond of the engine rooms and therefore I climb down into the depths of the hull to help Seth and Mickey, the Engineers onboard, scrub down the control room, engine room, and machine spaces. I think part of the reason I actually prefer to clean these cramped, loud, hot spaces is that after working the last four summers on boats, these are the cleanest most beautiful boat engine spaces I have ever seen. (Jack Walsh, Rich Mackey, and Debbie Ridings of the Flying Cloud and Voyager III would love them, too!) Everything is painted white, clearly labeled, and there’s relatively ample space to move around. Today we scrubbed the bilges, whic!
h was a dirty, sweaty job, yet satisfying to see the progress we made. And of course the best part of field day is that Abby (our Steward who is also from Weymouth ) brings us candy!

When field day ended at 1600, we were 0.7 nautical miles away from the equator! On our voyage we were asked to deploy an ARGO float when we crossed the equator. ARGO is an international project that has placed over 3000 floating CTD’s (Conductivity Temperature Depth readers) all over the world’s oceans. Everyone in the class had a chance to sign it while my fellow A-Watchers and I were honored to toss it overboard.

After ARGO was deployed some things began to happen on the boat, that included a visit from a witty bearded pitchfork-carrying Neptune, Monarch of the Sea. The turning of one-hemisphere pollywog to an equator-crossing shellback is supposedly a tradition started in the Navy, and it is probably the closest I will ever come to being inducted to some type of fraternity, sorority, or special group. We ended our equator crossing with many of us (myself included) chose to get our hair cut to various degrees. (Don’t worry Courtney, I only got a trim and I didn’t do it myself this time.)

I ended my day on bow watch, my favorite. I watched the sun set and I thought about all my friends and family who I miss dearly. My parents and my Nana & Papa, who remember me as the little girl who was too afraid to go down the slide without someone at the bottom to catch me, will be proud to know that I overcome my fear of heights everyday on the boat as I climb the foremast or out onto the bowsprit. Or they remember the little girl who was too afraid of boats to go to her friend’s 6th birthday on the USS Salem (which is basically aground in the Quincy Shipyard). And now she is sailing nearly 3000 miles across the middle of the open Pacific Ocean.

Cheers,
Jenn

PS. Mom, Dad, Michaela, Nana, Papa, Michael, and Bri – I miss and love you all so much. And to the extended Fardy & Deluca families, I’m sorry I missed you all on Thanksgiving and that I will miss you again on Xmas. Dad, please save me some cheesecake! & Mom, some gnocchis! Michaela aka Hercules I wish you were here to help me haul these lines! Give Tia a hug for me! <33

PPS. From Shenandoah: Happy Birthday Buddy!!!!! Hope you have a fantabulous day, love you loads!  Don’t do anything I wouldn’t…though seeing as today I crossed the equator, became a shellback, and chopped off my hair, you have a bit of leeway on that front.  Have fun, love you!  —From the only big sister you’ve got.

Photo Caption: Deploying ARGO

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Monday, December 3, 2012
Position:  0°55.9’N x 158°00.1’W
Course ordered: 150° per ship’s compass, full and by the wind.

We are out in the open ocean again and have never felt so conflicted about ship life; the weather has been beautiful, but sea sickness has taken out some of our heartiest sailors.  There is nothing else like regurgitating midnight snack while watching the sun rise.

Despite our queasy start to the week, a few things got the SSV Seamans excited and full of spirit today: delicious mac n’ cheese for lunch, we are only 55 miles away from the equator, festive holiday decorations in the main salon, and we saw the “green flash” as the sun set today on afternoon watch! We were also reminded of the significance of this voyage, its uniqueness, and the challenges it brings upon us.  During today’s class, Pamela got us thinking about why we have chosen to sail and what we can take away from this experience.  Sailing is an incredible experience that is both infinitely inspiring and demanding.  Waking up at 0300 to do 100-counts in lab, hauling sails in 90 degree weather, living without the comforts of home, and being almost completely cut-off from friends and family is not easy.  Sailing is absolutely wonderful, and what we learn from the challenges we face aboard will be carried with us for a long time to come.

One of the aspects of sailing that gets me up for watch every ten hours is the incredibly beautiful scenery that is awe-inspiring and beautiful. Standing on bow watch involves a lot of singing, pondering of life’s questions, and absorbing the amazing view of the great Pacific.  The view is truly indescribable…

It is an organism; giant, angry, tranquil, terrible, and beautiful.  It lives and breathes.  It stretches its arms and yawns in the morning. 

Like any organism, many small components have come together, each playing a part in shaping the whole. Nothing can be compared to it, but everything can be related to its imperfections, treasures, and boldness. 

You peer downwards into the heart of the waters, descending for kilometers, only to get a glimpse of what truly lies below.  Your reflection hovers in the waves and the waves lap up against the iron hull, luring you closer, swallowing you into the deepest, clearest blue you’’ve ever seen.

Wind lashes your face, ocean spray dances across your eyelashes, and you blink.

The ocean lies before you just the same, forever different, and ever-changing.

Love, Ashley & Mindy ($41L0R$ 4 1yF3)

p.s. Hi mom, dad & Lily! Love and miss you.  Jeremy, I’’m using military time like a pro! Can’t wait to see you! Love you!

p.s.s. Sending my love to Minnesota, don’t forget to make a snowman for me!! Also sending love to San Diego, miss you guys bunches! Happy belated birthday, Nana! I’‘ve been crocheting a lot and I’‘m almost out of yarn! Can’‘t wait to see everyone in January…save some lefse for me!  Love you, miss you, xoxo Ash

Photo Caption:  Sunset over the Pacific

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Sunday, December 2, 2012
Position:  1°47.7’N x 157°35.6’W
Course ordered: 150° per ship’s compass, full and by the wind.
Wind: ExSE, Beaufort force 4.
Sailing on a port tack under the deep-reefed main, mainstays’l, forestays’l, jib, jib tops’l, and the fisherman stays’l at 5.1 knots.

Today was a momentous day as we readied the ship and set sail for the last major leg of our 2800-mile voyage from Honolulu to Papeete.  All hands were roused at 0630 for a wholesome and delicious egg sandwich breakfast with fresh grapefruit on the side.  With bellies full, the students mustered on the quarter deck and answered to a roll call, to ensure that all were aboard before getting underway.  After a word from the Captain, she turned us over to Ryan, the Chief Mate, for a briefing on the tasks to be completed before weighing anchor.  Before turning us loose on our tasks, Ryan called for everyone to shout out one word that described their port-call experience at Kiritimati.  With a rousing cheer of indistinguishable, yet undeniably exuberant words, all hands on deck set about various projects. We stowed the beach chairs, awnings, washed down our trusty inflatable boat, “The Station Wagon,” and packed up Gene, the sailing dinghy, both of which had transported us between the ship and the island for several days. We also had to make sure that everything that lives on deck was lashed down for the rolling seas we knew we would encounter as soon as we left the lee of the atoll.

Before we could finish all of our preparation work, the mates surprised us with an impromptu fire drill, which was met with a rapid response from the student and professional crew, as we all scurried to our now familiar stations. Unfortunately, our imaginary fire turned out to be more than our imaginary fire-fighting efforts could handle and the fire drill turned into an imaginary abandon ship drill. We all jumped overboard with the emergency rations and GPS beacon, and practiced treading water in a circle with our arms locked in the relatively shallow (160 feet) water surrounding the Seamans. We concluded the drill with our last swim call at anchor in Christmas Island.

Back aboard, we worked to finish our tasks, and held a man-overboard drill. After a long morning of chores and drills, we finally powered up the windlass, and began hauling up the 75 fathoms of anchor chain. After a few minutes (and a little help from the ship’s diesel engine), we heard the windlass strain as the anchor parted with the bottom – anchor’s aweigh!

With the ship free from its anchor, the Captain ordered the motor shut off and the headsails set. You could hear the rigging and the students strain as they went to work, hauling on the staysails and jib halyards. With the wind in her sails, the ship fell off into a leisurely port tack until the topsail was set to gain another knot of speed. Finally, our ship was in motion again, and our beaming Captain said it best, “There is no way like underway!”

It is now almost 8:00pm on Sunday, December 2nd. Lucky us, it’s our second December 2nd, as we passed the International Dateline again today. Extra lucky for us, it was burrito night on the Seamans, and we are all able to prepare for tonight’s scientific deployments (or bed…) with full bellies and happy hearts. We’re off to French Polynesia, our next sight of land with be the island of Raiatea in about two weeks. We hope everything back on land is going well, and we’re happy to be back in the same day as you!

Love always,
The crew of Mama Seamans

-Trevor and Maddie, reporting from the S.S.V. Robert C. Seamans

PS: ALASKA POWER BLOG!!! Shout out to our peeps in the snow, we miss ya!

PPS: Hi Dale! Thanks for all your help (and the help of everyone in the
shore office) for getting us so well prepared to be out here.

Caption:  On the beach at Christmas Island

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1st December 2012
Anchored off Christmas Island, Republic of Kiribati

Today was our last full day on Kiritimati (Christmas Island), with starboard and port watches sharing the responsibilities of anchor watch. With the exception of watch, there weren’t any formal organized activities for the day, so starboard and port watches had the freedom to do whatever they pleased when they were off watch.  Here’s my account for the day, keeping in mind that my other shipmates also had a blast visiting Cook Island or just relaxing on the boat.

A day in the life on Christmas Island:

0536 - Woke up on the foredeck in my hammock because of the cold. It can get a little chilly here in the mornings and this has happened for the past two nights. With the knowledge that I had about another 40 minutes of sleep before the wake up for breakfast, I quickly packed up my hammock and headed down into the ship to a nice and warm bunk.

0700 - All hands breakfast. I felt pretty burned out from the long day of island touring yesterday and planned on staying on the ship for a quiet day.

0730-1200 - Starboard watch on duty, I was taken aback on how much work needed to be done to service the ship while it is not sailing. Taking advantage of the calm and stable environment, crew and students pulled out equipment for servicing and cleaning.

1230 - Last minute change of mind as I decided to spend some time on the island on our last day here. We heard good things about a shop named Rainbow Store and decided to head there.

1330-1400 - We (Leona, Ashley and I) had no real idea where the store was, but as Christmas Island really only has one busy road, we decided to just walk and hopefully stumble upon it. We ended up quite lost. By chance a red van with the word “Rainbow” painted on it pulled up and a gentleman poked his head out and asked if we needed help. It turned out he was the owner of Rainbow Store and a resort. Perfect.

1420-1600 - “Seame”, the extremely generous and hospitable man that picked us up, drove us to his store where we purchased some supplies. It turned out that he has just drove Matt, one of our lovely deckhands, to the “Rainbow Park.” Rainbow Park is a gorgeous waterfront area where Seame takes guests from his resort for a picnic every weekend. We arrived at Rainbow Park where Matt was with Seame and his family. They very generously offered us food that they have prepared which consisted of lobster cooked with noodles. I was later shown the lobsters that they cooked with, about 50 cm long, which the locals deemed small. There were also a bunch of kids who were very curious and friendly; they ranged from age 2 to 12 and assisted us with some shell-hunting efforts. This ended with us having a friendly rock-skipping competition!

1634 - Missed the ridged inflatable boat that takes us back to Mama Seamans by 4 minutes and had a pretty funny time trying to wave and shout to the ship to come get us (500m away, against the wind). Turned out that the ship’s boats only run on the schedule and we finally got picked up at 1700. Oops. Lesson learned.

We concluded the day with a delicious dinner (Thanks, Abby!) with guests onboard. It is lovely to feel like we’re able to give back to them (even just a little); the supreme hospitability and the generosity I have experienced here are unlike any other I have ever come across. There is something very special about this island.

I was informed that the dolphins are back (they’ve been hanging out around our ship the past 3 nights), so I am going to string up my hammock either in the quarter or foredeck and retire for the night to the sounds of exhalation and swimming of wild bottlenose dolphins about 3m below me.

Sapo (Gilbertese for bye)  for now,

-Ivan

P.S. Lots of love for everyone back home, in Hong Kong and Carleton. Can’t wait to tell all of you about the adventures I am having. This is going to be the theme of my life for a while after I’m back, be prepared! FYI, I am also well and healthy, doing well with the sunscreen, have not gotten sunburnt yet and hopefully won’t for the next couple weeks.

Figure Caption:  Dinner picnic with Seame’s family at Rainbow Park

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30 November 2012, 20:15
Anchored off Kiritimati (Christmas) Island

Today we were honored with a tour of the island. We traveled for hours in the back of some hefty pick-up trucks, hiding from a scorching sun under makeshift plywood shelters. We visited a handful of villages and passed through about five different environments. Our lovable tour guide, Ratita (pronounced Rasta), led us through marshes, solar salt farms, coconut plantations, lagoons, and beaches. Who would have thought that a small island built upon coral would have so much diversity?

Our journey was highlighted by some awesome food. First, lots of melted peanut butter and fluff sandwiches and tepid lemon-ish water from our galley. We enjoyed many a coconut. Yum. Yum. Yum. They were so refreshing after our trip to the beach. The surf there was the greatest we’ve ever swam in, and we were mighty thirsty after frolicking and being thrashed about. Don’t worry, we made it out with all 84 limbs intact.

Ratita also treated us to some tapana, a fibrous fruit that tasted like “sweet nectar” (Hayli) “from the heavens” (Maddie). But the woody texture didn’t please all. We had this treat on the east side of the island, after watching some sea turtles ride the waves. Part of the east side of the island is called the Bay of Wrecks, and we certainly saw evidence of the danger. Plus, the British built a runway here, from which they tested atomic bombs and a hydrogen bomb many years back. The British military built most of the infrastructure on Kiritimati, including many of the roads we traveled on. Roads would never last fifty years in Alaska or Maine like they do here!

After a long and exhausting day, we’re back on Mama Seamans. Today is our shipmate Simona’s 20th birthday. We learned how to sing “Happy Birthday” in Gilbertese. The song goes like this:

Kona tekeraoi
Kona tekeraoi
Kona bon tekeraoi
Naam rekenibong.
Salty and tan and full of fresh fruit, we remain ever yours,

Hayli and Maddie

P.S. “Mom and Dad, I love you!” -Simona
P.P.S. Merry, I have been eating lots and being a good little hobbit here. I miss you and love you lots. - Pip
P.P.P.S. RJ, good luck with finals! Lots of love to the rest of my fam and Therachison! - Maddie

Caption: Enjoying coconuts and a sing-a-long in the back of the tour truck

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November 28, 2012
Position: 2 00N x 15825W
Course: Anchored at Christmas Island
Wind: SE, Force 3

Dawn approaches the equatorial Pacific. I sip warm gulps of green tea from a reflective periwinkle mug, attempting to calm my active mind before the sunrise.

On the horizon but not yet visible to the naked eye - for its highest elevation rises less than the height of a basketball hoop - lies the island Captain James Cook reputedly came upon on Christmas Eve 1777.

Kiritimati Atoll, the largest coral atoll in the world, cradles the precipice between land and sky. Pictures illustrate a place separate from the world, one largely untouched by influence outside the natural elements. How long such a low island may exist among rising tides as glaciers melt, one hastens to guess that surely being only twelve feet of elevation above Pacific waters bodes unfavorably should our shifting climate raise surrounding seas.

Without a fix, below decks in darkness as Abby prepares a dawn repast I contemplate. The main saloon is my spot for introspective reflection. The story of how I came to be here 10,000 miles from home is a long one, but it begins simply enough.

(By Matthew)

11pm to 3am Midnight Watch the B-Watch stood
Captain Pamela and the Mates said to spot Christmas Island we could
B-Watch deck student crew had all been shadows once before
I became shadow again another opportunity another door
We were on station deploying a hydrocast, a phytoplankton and neuston net
I was commanding my shipmates to double gybe on a port tack- with advice it was a goal I met
Watch A and C stragglers were awake lingering on the quarter deck in suspense
They went aloft on the foremast all hoping to see land for the first time in two weeks the night was very tense
Land Ho! Lights were spotted in the dead of night
I went to bed after absorbing the plethora of information in the brain dump by Ryan but with no land in sight
Watch again at 7am after a great breakfast cooked by the Steward Abby
I ended up handling sails since all work was completed by us scientific labbys
LAND HO! LAND HO! LAND HO! We all cried out
It was just a fuzzy horizon from 8 nautical miles away was the scream and shout
Furling the sails on the bowsprit for great presentation while getting splashed by Neptunes love
We saw distant light blue water, tall swaying palm trees and the bright sun shining through clouds as white as a dove

Finally anchored close to the pier - the rescue boat the only manner to get near
Lunch was eaten and we helped and waited for every person to be in the custom clear
We made bracelets under the installed canopy on the quarter deck as a surprise swim in the water neared
The water was cool, a very light blue and the bottom was deep
The officers briefed us on the upcoming schedule it was hardly a time to sleep
We were able to go ashore!!! Thank you to the Mates who were willing to take our night watches assigned
We hurried to dry and pack a bag free to roam the island boats returned 1830 we had to keep in mind
I was on the second boat out to the island motoring through the waves as our butts get wet from the splashes
Getting closer and closer we were trying to walk straight all in mad dashes
Mauri! The native word for Hi, we quickly learned as we walked down the only paved street
To the left were miles of island and to the right was the local town- many natives we would meet
The small local town included a post office and a few shops some of us ventured by hitch hiking
But for the most part the natives were biking or motorcycling
The afternoon under the light sun we spent walking and talking being offered papaya fruits from families
By dinner we were all back on Mama Seamans but not to go in our pajamies
Dinner was a shrimp gumbo and filleted tuna
A surprise visitor came as we ate on the deck - two dolphins showed up port side under la luna
Movie night documentary was the plan
Showing how Christmas Island used to be a nuclear bomb lan
Knowing the history is a part of knowing and appreciating where I am now

We will be anchored for three additional days I think, working on our research projects in the lab, swimming, touring the island, and just wow we are half way done with our trip- at least we all consider it to be.

P.S.- Hi Mom! How was the last movie to the sequel?! Im ok and am having
a blast!! Hope all is well! Love you, Darcy Elizabeth

Photo Captain: Its Christmas!!

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27 November 2012, 19:30
2 18.4’N x 157 16.5’ W
~25nm north of Kiritimati, or Christmas Island
Sailing at 3kt under deep reefed main, mainstays’l, forestays’l, jib, and jib tops’l

When I was a child, my grandfather taught me to listen. He taught me that listening with both ears is just as important as looking both ways before crossing the street. He taught me to attune my hearing to fog horns and engine RPM. To this day, my brother Sam and I still compete to identify whose lobster boat is about to come around Eastern Harbor Point when the day’s work is done, simply by the pitch of their diesel engine. Gramp also taught me to identify ospreys, eagles, laughing gulls, and chickadees. Sam and I compete with these, too. He and I both have good ears; it wouldn’t be fair for me to say that one of us is better than the other.

Now I am in a new world full of new sounds, and listening here is more important than ever. The sounds of the sea are perpetual and romantic. They change with the weather; a force 2 wind creates seas that lap the hull, but a force 6 wind thrashes the waves against her. The sounds change with our motion; when under sail, we move with the water and our roll keeps time with the surf. But when we motor, we cut through the water and this rhythm is thrown off.  The sounds change depending on where you are on the ship. On deck you hear splashes and spray, but below our waterline everything is different. The sea beats on steel like a slow, resonating thunder. When we’re sailing, the thunder is even and soothing. After less than two weeks in my foc’s'le bunk, this sound lulls me to sleep no matter the hour. (On the Seamans, I sleep from “weird o’clock” to “weird o’clock.”) Motoring changes the pitch and the rhythm. Sounds become sharper, quicker, and unpredictable. My sleep becomes uneasy. I think it might be what causes me to dream of complicated line handling and being late for watch.

The ship herself is never quiet. She breathes in a way that is foreign to me. It takes time to understand it. I’ve found the most rewarding way to tune in is when I’m at the helm and ordered to steer “full and by,” where the ship best harnesses the wind while maintaining our desired course. Here, I pry my eyes away from the compass and listen to the wind and the sails as best I know how. The canvas snaps to life when we catch the wind just right, but the rigging creaks when the sails come to close and are pinched by the wind. So far when steering full and by, I cheat by keeping track of our speed via the GPS. But hopefully someday soon that will change and I won’t have to cheat.

The sounds we sailors make here in the open ocean are not so different from the sounds we make on land. Laughter and metallic clinks come from the galley six times a day. Our clocks still chime on the hour and on the half. We still run faucets and hoses to scrub ourselves and our home. But sailors are masters of quietness, and it’s evident that my classmates and I are catching onto this. Our harnesses don’t clang so much when we’re awoken for dawn watch at 3am. We’re learning never to slam doors and how to sneakily climb ladders. We keep our evening conversations low and direct them away from the aft cabin (the Captain and Chief Scientist can hear, you know). We have to be quiet to care for each other.

We also have to be quiet to listen. Our ship and the sea have so much to say.

Hayli

P.S. I miss you all back home and think of you often. I’ve spent lots of time singing Peace Like a River. I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got hope like a fountain, and I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul. We’re going to sing this song as a round for our new friends on Christmas Island. I’m our informal song director, isn’t that funny?

Photo Caption: Things that sustain us (photo by Marta Trodahl)

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November 26, 2012
Position: 413.8N x 15606.6W
Course: 195 PSC
Wind: SE, Force 3

The blog is a bit late today. However, to all the parents out there waiting with bated breath to hear that the blog is still operational and the Seamans is still above water, I am here to reassure you that we are making way swimmingly! Yesterday was a day of transition for everyone, as we stood our last watches before rotating our professional crew; my watch, C watch, bid adieu to Third Mate Ashley, Deckhand Tristan, and Assistant Scientist Carla, who shifted their allegiance in the night to the scurvy band of scoundrels sometimes referred to as A watch.

My day began at 0230. After stumbling into lab and straining to pay attention to the previous watch’s summary of deployments, the dawn watch labbies—Rebecca, Maddie, and I—stared into six buckets of brownish-pink zooplankton soup with exhausted dread. But as we poured each bucket through our sieves to begin processing, a spark of curiosity quickly ignited into amazement—this sample was our most bioluminescent yet. When we turned out the overhead lights of the wet lab, all we could see was the swirling electric blue glow of a hundred thousand wee beasties bumping into each other. Dawn watch is pretty cool.

Another treat of having dawn watch was that (after dawn cleaning) we had no watch until after dinner. Some people sleep, some read, some study. I spent most of my free time (0830 to 1300 and 1530 to 1820) lying on the head rigging. In the morning I chatted with the lookouts, watched Trevor cut up the two skipjacks we caught, and simply enjoyed the sun (SPF 50, Mom). In the afternoon, I read The Old Man and the Sea, because come on, if there is an appropriate time, its now. Unlike Santiago, I have more friends out on the open water than just flying fish and seabirds (weve got those, too).

After dinner, C watch had the command again. Because we were rotating the professional crew, Pamela was watch officer for the evening and Audrey had the lab. Everyone has or will get a chance to shadow their watch officer for a watch, but I got the unique pleasure of shadowing our Captain. I needed to give sail handling commands, decide who to post at the helm and lookout, constantly understand the state of the ship, communicate with lab for deployments and galley for trash dumps, and remember log book entries, boat checks, half-hour engine room checks, and hourly weather reports—all with Pamela watching closely. I don’t have the white space to recount everything that happened during the watch, but somehow I completed and turned over the watch without screwing anything up too badly. My advice to future shdows and eventually junior watch officers: speak up if you are unsure about anything, always be thinking about what needs to get done in the near future, and don’t let the main boom bang around (Pamela: “it is bad for the gear and sounds like a sledgehammer in the aft cabin”).

-Jack

P.S. Much love home to Mom, Dad, Ted, Tess, and the Chillmeister and company. I cant wait to step in the door on Christmas morning (well, I guess I can wait—first comes Christmas Island).

Photo Caption: Labbies at work

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November 25, 2012
Location:  5 53.9’N 155 10.8’W
Wind: SE x S Force 3-4
Course: 180 PSC
Speed:  1.1 knots

Ahoy! Another action packed day here out in the middle of the ocean. The
days are more like 24-hour cycles and our sense of time is simultaneously
lost as well as heightened. I wanted to give a glimpse into a few of the
unexpected quirks and perks of living on a ship at sea:

1.  The view out my port light (circular window).

As I am rocked back and forth side to side by our boat carving through the waves, the view out my port light alternates between sloshing swirling white foam and a cresting horizon of waves.  I use the term bedroom lightly. My bedroom consists of a small bunk with two shelves built into the wall. All of my belonging are stuffed and squished into the shelves and the nooks in the side of the bed. But the location makes the size of my tiny nest totally worth it. 

2.  Bruises.

Pretend you are sloshing a cup of water back in forth in your hand, and then pretend that we are a boat inside of that cup. The state of motion means that we tend to bump or fall on things, into things, over things and even without the presence of things. Bruises are worn as badges of honor in our fearless fight to remain upright.

3.  Constantly repeating everything said and asked of me.

When commands are given on deck, they are then parroted back to ensure they have been heard correctly. Taking over the steering of the boat from a classmate starts with saying “I am here to relieve you at the helm.” Then the helmsmen says the course ordered and steered (our compass direction), and this is repeated back to them. This process is part of all work on deck and has infiltrated into most of life on the ship. At dinner “pass the salad” is often repeated back “pass the salad” by your neighbor as they reach across to the other table for it (Sorry Mom and Dad, the boat has not made any serious improvements on my manners).

4.  Everything on me and everything I touch has a light sticky coating of salt.

This goes hand in hand with cleanliness. It is perfectly acceptable on board to wear the same clothes for a week. We often put off showers because of the imminent galley cleaning or deck washing. However, I have discovered that the time between one grungy event to the next is never more than a few hours, so the layer of salty stickiness almost instantly coats me as I step out refreshed from the shower.

5.  Our swimming pool is 4814 meters deep.

As we get closer to the equator (we are now at about 6 degrees N and over 1000 miles from Hawaii!), the temperature has shot up. Today the seas were calm, the wind light, and we had made good mileage the day before. Which meant. SWIM CALL! This is a rare and unique experience. The mood was extremely high when the Captain allowed us to go for a dunk in the middle of the Pacific! Being in the water, looking up at the boat and down into the abyss below gave me a new perspective and appreciation for this experience. Our boat’s presence seems big and mighty as we forge through the waves, but as I happily floated alongside and looked underwater at the hull, I was reminded that we are still only a tiny speck in a huge ocean. Through the science we do aboard: sending gear down to depth and retrieving water samples, monitoring and learning how and why the waves, currents and temperature are changing, towing nets to retrieve a sample of the amazing diversity of life around us, we are able to learn from the ocean and develop a new understanding of it. And this is what makes being at SEA at sea so incredible!

xoxo—Rebecca

P.S. To the whole fam, I love you. Mom I promise I am wearing sunscreen being safe and all that stuff you are worrying about. Sending love to John all the time. Sara, I was smiling and singing “girl on fire” on the bow sprit (head rig) today. MDIBL- I have kept up the British accent. CC- can’t wait to see everyone.

Photo caption: Happy swimmers

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November 24, 2012
Location:  8 01.1’N 155 12.2’W
Course: 160 PSC
Wind: E Force 3
Speed:  2.0 knots

“Shenandoah.” someone whispers through the dark.  I hope against hope that I am being wakened for some mundane reason and can fall back asleep.  But alas, it is 0240 and I have 10 minutes ‘til I need to be on deck for watch. Stumbling up the doghouse ladder I emerge into a warm night with a stiff breeze, the stars are starting to peek through the clouds, and it is absolutely gorgeous.  As our watch takes the deck, C watch sleepily heads to their bunks. 

The early morning hours pass in a blur of boat checks, helm time, weather logs, and time as lookout (all punctuated by bites of midnight snack - oatmeal raisin cookies, yum).  The sunrise is obscured by low clouds, but the upper sky is streaked with pinks and purples.  I relieve the lookout and get a glorious hour on top of the world.  A masked booby (bird) has joined our ship’s company for the morning; occasionally it pauses mid-air, then dives into the water and sends flying fish careening out of the sea - it is quite the spectacle.  A squall appears on the horizon, and we change course to avoid the worst of it.  Standing right at the bow, the rain casts a dramatic shadow up ahead (see picture); it is a humbling sight knowing that you will soon be in the midst of it.

Watch ends at 0700 and then it’s BREAKFAST TIME!!!!!!! After breakfast, as the off-going watch, we have Dawn Cleanup - the daily scrubbing of Mama Seamans’ soles (floors), showers, and heads.  Not the most enjoyable task, but the general high spirits of all involved combined with the promise of a nap and a shower once finished are a great motivator.  Finally, at 0830 I take a shower and collapse, clean and weary into my bunk.

In closing, food highlights so far:
Thanksgiving - delicious (especially the sweet potatoes)
Chocolate chip scones (post-class afternoon snack)
Banana, macadamia nut, chocolate chip waffles with berries on top smile
Peanut butter filled pretzels with nutella (snack)
GUACAMOLE!!! (snack)
Falafel (lunch)
Pumpkin pie (midnight snack)

—Shenandoah

P.S.  Love to all friends and family.  Grant - give Peaches some love for me.  Papa - was singing “I had to leave a little girl in Kingston town” on lookout the other night (didn’t realize I still knew the words).  Mama - now I can sleep ‘til noon and it’s perfectly acceptable.  Also love to all the people who have ecstatically overjoyed, near bone-crushing hugs coming their way in a month and a half. —Bamberz

Photo caption:  Squall viewed from the bow

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S244 Oceans & Climate

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Ahoy mateys! I hope your bellies are still full from a delicious Thanksgiving meal. I must say that this was the first Thanksgiving away from my family as it was for many of my shipmates. It was a new way to celebrate the holiday as a group of friendly sailors! This is the most adventurous journey I have ever experienced thus far in my life. Here I will share a bit about the wild ride so far aboard the Robert C. Seamans

Imagine yourself boarding a tall ship for six weeks. Imagine that ship about a thousand miles off shore in the midst of the open Pacific without land in sight.  Imagine that the only other nearby living species besides your crew of 35 are species no bigger than five centimeters.  Imagine yourself as the helmsman steering by nothing but a single star during a midnight watch. This may be your imagination, but this is my reality and it is AWESOME! Each and every watch I wake looking forward to safely and effectively guiding my ship and shipmates to the destined land of Papeete, Tahiti. It amazes me how fast I have grasped the techniques and skills required to sail this tall ship. The only thing I had ever sailed prior to this was my clay boat I made in my high school physics class. There are so many parts to this ship that I have already become accustomed to. My favorite duties thus far are steering, being on forward lookout and being a labby (in science).  When I am not at the helm, I am on forward lookout, maintaining the deck, or doing lots of lovely exciting tow processing. When I am on forward lookout, it is I who assesses the horizon for any oncoming squalls or vessels and it is I who gets to take in the beautiful sight of the moon and stars shining down. 

On every watch something new and interesting happens. The last watch we approached a rather treacherous squall and, like every other squall, the crew assembled on deck in their foul weather gear. The only person who doesn’t normally come dressed in their foulies is Ryan, our Chief Mate. However, today he came dressed in his foulies from head to toe, which told us that this squall was going to need some taming. When on forward lookout with a squall ahead, I feel like I am about to ride a roller coaster that no amusement park could ever create. When at the helm and a squall is approaching, I try not to fear that it is up to me to remain on course. In science during a squall I hold on to my samples like they are the last two flat screens on the shelf at Best Buy on Black Friday.

Once the squall past, the beautiful sun came out and being on deck was the place to be. During afternoon class today we shared announcements, double gybed for a neuston tow, and students presented a science report on sea level rise. An interesting fact for those blog followers out there is that if the Greenland ice sheet melted, sea level would rise seven meters. A clever limerick was written based on this topic:

    If Greenlands high ice sheets should melt,
    The rise of the waterd be felt.
    On low Christmas Island
    Where thered be no more dry land,
    Unless coral reefs hike up their belt.

Todays watch was ended by a glorious sunset shimmering down on the waves. That is all that I have to report for today from the Robert C. Seamans and it is now time for me to get rocked to sleep by the swells of the Pacific.

Fair winds,
10 42.5 N x 156 08 W

-Michela Cupo

P.S. I love and miss my family and friends very much especially Mom, Dad, Justin, Paolo, and Tiger! I can and cannot wait to return home to celebrate the holidays with you all. I am sure you can feel my mixed emotions on being able to wait to come home since our destination is the tropical paradise of TAHITI! Feel free to meet me, but until then you will be in my thoughts until I return home! Xoxoxo

Photo Caption:  B watch at the bow

Nov

22

S244 Oceans & Climate

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November 22, 2012
Position: 1237.3N by 15654.6W
Course: 140 PSC
Wind: E, Force 3

Ah, twas a lazy morning for ol C watch as we enjoyed the vaunted Sleep of Kings, which happens when you can sleep until lunch after staying up until 0300 on midwatch. I, however, woke at 1000 to work on my research project in the lab. My project involves salps, which are pelagic tunicates (sea squirts) that look superficially like jellyfish despite their close evolutionary relation to vertebrates. I cannot quite express the frustration felt while trying to handle rapidly disintegrating, kidney bean-sized, clear blobs of living jello in six-foot ocean swells. I will spare you, and say only that I made significant progress today and my hand-eye coordination has never been finer.

Thanksgiving lunch was the big one on the Robert C. Seamans. Our steward Abby got lots of help preparing the turkey, squash, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, and cranberry sauce. Even though we are all many miles away from home, everyone got into the holiday spirit and stuffed themselves. Some couldnt control their hunger and flouted regular manners in order to cave to their animalistic urges.

After lunch, C watch took the deck, all the while battling the tryptophan that enticed us towards afternoon food coma. I myself took the helm for the hour of 1300 and joyously belted the Trololo song with the wind in my hair until our watch officer, Ashley, informed me that our Captain, Pamela, was sleeping directly below us in the aft cabin. My fears were for naught though, because a few minutes later Pamela emerged to announce a fire drill and everyone snapped into action. All 35 souls worked with alacrity and efficiency to carry out their assigned tasks, whether they were manning fire hoses, controlling ventilation, or maintaining ship operations. Our first drill underway was a great success.

After the drill, C watch had the deck once again and I was off to forward lookout. The horizon was crisp and flat, marking the first persistently nice weather since we left the shadow of Oahu. As I gazed over the port bow, a dozen flying fish breached through the crest of a wave as it collided with the hull. They spread their fins and glided low over the water like enormous beetles, taking a daring angle into the wind that no good sailor would ever attempt. Over the course of my hour-long forward lookout, I probably saw a hundred flying fish skittering out of the way of the Seamans. At some point today, one even landed on deck and we used it as fishing bait (no luck).

With our watch winding down, the sun sank low in the southwest sky until we finally got our first real sunset. We snatched only a momentary glance of the sun in full as it transited the narrow gap between far-stretching bands of altocumulus and the dark horizon. I shifted my view to the northeast, where a sliver of a rainbow had just appeared. You cant make this stuff up. It was a truly enchanted evening here in the South Pacific and a Thanksgiving that will not soon be forgotten.

-Jack

P.S. Despite all this, I am yearning for Thanksgiving at home like crazy. To the entire Fields Family, from London to Colorado to the DR and everywhere in between, Happy Thanksgiving. Hope to see you soon.

Nov

21

S244 Oceans & Climate

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21 November 2012, 20:15
Position: 1415.6N by 1578.9 W
Wind: ENE, Force 5
Seas:  7 feet
Course:  140 PSC

Today was a busy day.  My watch began after lunch.  I was in the lab today, so we started working on processing samples from the last carousel deployment.  Then, at 1400, we were called away for our first field day. Field day entails a two-hour deep cleaning of mama Seamans by all crew members.  The goal is to clean all the cracks and crevasses missed by the daily dawn clean up.  In these forgotten spaces, a nasty substance we call mung builds up.  Someone today described mung as not quite solid, not quite liquid.  Its pretty nasty, in all honesty.  There are special tools set aside just for mung:  butter knives and toothbrushes.  Don’t worry; they’re clearly marked so as not to be placed back with the common utensils.

My watch (A watch) was assigned to clean the galley.  Having eight people in such a small space, trying to clean everything in sight, was more than just a little entertaining.  We were allowed to listen to music, so there was a battle of the speakers going on between A watch and B watch, who was cleaning the main salon and the forward accommodations.  Field day lasted for two hours, and was overall a great time. 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.  I am extremely excited because I have the pleasure of being the assistant steward tomorrow.  The food has been great so far, and tomorrow will be no exception.  Abby and I just finished planning our Thanksgiving lunch.  We will be making two turkeys, a rice and squash dish for our vegetarians and vegans, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and green beans.  Were all missing our families around this time in the trip, and we hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!

-  Samantha

P.S. - To my family:  I hope you all havent been worrying about me too much.  I wasnt seasick at all, even without medications!  Sorry I can’t be there with you all for Thanksgiving this year!  The one we had with dads family before I left was great.  I hope you all have a great time, and Ill see you at Christmas! 

Photo Caption:  View of Diamond Head as we sailed from Oahu.

Nov

20

S244 Oceans & Climate

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November 20, 2012
Position:  15°59.7’N by 157°42.6’W
Course:  130 PSC
Winds: E x NE, Force 4

Yesterday I heard one shipmate tell another relieving them at lookout, “Okay, over here you have blue vastness. Now this is very different from the port side, where you have blue vastness. Also make sure to pay attention to over the stern, where there is some blue vastness.” This is a pretty accurate description of our current situation: a lot of water and sky, and not much else. Most often, the lookout reports squalls (like storms but over water instead of land), occasionally a seabird or a flying fish, and very rarely any other vessels on the horizon. Not to mention land.

Lookout is one of my favorite jobs when on deck watch; you stand high at the bow of the ship, heroically braving the swells as you lead the ship forward into the unknown. That feeling lasts a couple of minutes, and then you face the reality that you are a lookout in an ocean desert. One can only gaze at the 360 degrees of unchanging horizon for so long without nodding off, or turning some attention to the details. Like how the waves seem metallic when viewed at a distance, but when I look straight down, the water is a union of navy and royal blue, cool yet warm and inviting. And how the waves sometimes encourage the motion of the ship and other times hinder it. I am still working on predicting when they truly disagree, sending a shock of salt spray over the bow and into my face. And how the ripples are fractals of the waves and the waves are fractals of the swells. And how the horizon is a break and a meeting at the same time, a defined point, but not a point at all.

Soon I am relieved as our forward lookout and my waxing poetic is brought to an end. There are things to do! Weather observations to be made, logs to be filled out, and sails to be set and struck. It’s a busy lifestyle, but a rewarding one with immediate gratification as the sails billow and fill with air, drawing the ship forward. We can plot our progress easily, making up to 7 knots (nautical miles per hour) enroute to Kiritimati (pronounced “Kirismas”, get it?). We have officially left the Exclusive Economic Zone of the US and are truly in the high seas. We have everything we need on board in case the Apocalypse comes to pass; we are a self-sustained community for the next month. We cook, clean, log, sail, and entertain ourselves. There is very little stopping us from sailing to Australia, besides preconceived plans. This freedom is exhilarating and very satisfying. It just feels natural, though I have never experienced anything quite like it.

To bring it back to today: we have been sailing through intermittent squalls all day, our first taste of bad weather. Standing on bow watch, per usual, I could see four squalls within 4 nm of the Seamans, distinguished by the mist between the clouds and water, blocking the horizon. The captain decided we should close the hatches and strike the JT and jib to be safe. For a time, I thought we might head between two of the squalls, but then I saw the edge of it quickly approaching. The water on one side was the normal metallic, smooth waves. On the other, it was misty and choppy, with obvious raindrops breaking the surface. I yelled out to the crew on deck to prepare for the rain. It felt like the dun-nun moment for Jaws. And then it was pouring. And then it was clearing. This pattern has repeated throughout the afternoon, and continues as I write at 2035. We will see what waits for my next watch at 0300. This is how the crew of the Seamans has quickly come to live, one moment to the next. There is little point in speculation, as the future will be here soon enough. So we sleep when we can, go on watch when scheduled, and deal with what we get. There is no complaining, all is fair in love, war, and sailing.

To my family and friends, I miss you all dearly, but not enough to come back yet. I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving, I’ll be thinking of you. Mom, Dad, Jimmy especially.

xoxo Leona

Photo Caption: Captain Pamela standing behind the helm of the Robert C. Seamans, directing the crew to set sail.

Nov

19

S244 Oceans & Climate

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November 19, 2012
Position:  17˚ 43.5’N by 158˚ 07.7’W
Course:  160 PSC
Winds: E, Force 5

Ahoy landlubbers!

Well, its 1945 (or 7:45 pm) after dinner on a Monday. But really, every day is just today, as days of the week pretty much have no meaning on a ship in the middle of the Pacific. Time passes strangely on a boat, and even though we’ve only been sailing for, how many, three? days, it simultaneously feels like we just left the dock and like I’ve been on the Seamans my whole life. I think one of the reasons time is so crazy is that we don’t follow any sort of “normal” sleep pattern (or any sort of “normal” land-type pattern for that matter; I think my friends at home would probably cringe at my current shower schedule). On our ship there are three watches with 7 students and 3 professional crew members on each one. These watches rotate through the following schedule:

2300-0300: Midwatch
0300-0700: Dawn Watch
0700-1300: Morning Watch
1300-1900: Afternoon Watch
1900-2300: Evening Watch

Every watch is broken up into “deck”, the people tending the sails, steering, and monitoring the ship, and “science”, the people handling deployments of our equipment and processing data. Additionally, one member of the student crew helps our awesome steward, Abby, in the galley each day as the assistant steward, making us delicious meals and snacks. Some general excitement earlier today was the reeling in of two fish off the stern of the ship! Crew member Will hauled in both, a mahi-mahi in the morning and a skipjack tuna this afternoon. They’ll be on our dinner plates tomorrow and we’re all very excited.

Today I was in the lab with Rebecca, Jack and Carla, the assistant scientist for my watch, C watch (aka Champ Watch). We performed pH and alkalinity tests on the sea water that was collected during the morning deployment of the hydrocast. This was really exciting for me because it’s some of the first data collected for the research project I’m doing with Leona on oceanic carbon. However, all of this thrilling spectrophotometry and titration work was interrupted by today’s class, which came in the middle of our afternoon watch. Nearly every day on board the Seamans, all of the watches, including the professional crew, come together for 1-2 hours in the middle of the day for class, which could be about literally anything to do with a sailing vessel. Yesterday we learned how to recognize an oncoming squall and quickly strike the sails that make us most vulnerable to tipping in heavy winds. Today, we had a nautical science report on the waves we’re encountering from Trevor, Hayli, and Michela. Then, we had a line chase.

For the last few days of sailing, we’ve all been learning the lines of the ship, which control the various sails. Halyards make sails go up, downhauls bring them down, and sheets control their “tack” or which way they’re pointing. We had a lot of sails and lines and vocabulary to learn during our first few days. To test what we’ve learned, the captain ordered for a “line chase” during class. Each watch lined up in front of a crew member that had a deck of cards with sail lines written on them, and we took turns identifying each of the lines around the ship, relay race style. While this was a serious activity because it is really important for everybody to know the lines of our ship, there was a lot of smiling, laughing, and cheering as we speed-walked around. There were also a few fun “lines” thrown in the deck of cards for each watch. B-dog (Brendan) drew the final card for C Watch, which was “Congo Line”, so we danced around the boat in a Congo style victory lap. C watch technically won the line chase today, but it really was an incredibly close race down to the last cards. I loved seeing all of my classmates cheering each other on, and knowing that we all care about this ship and sailing her well made me feel really safe and happy. Eating watermelon on the deck in the sunshine afterwards, all I could think was, honestly, we’re the luckiest kids in the world right now.

-Maddie reporting from the Robert C. Seamans

PS: Happy (almost) Thanksgiving to all of my family and friends around the world! Halloran and Kearney clans, Carleton peeps, Spookers, and Alaskan homies, I am thinking of you always and I am thankful for all of you. I am also thankful for a sturdy ship, wonderful shipmates, and the stomach of steel that has sustained me thus far through some pretty big swells.

Photo Caption: The student crew members of C Watch (Brendan, Rebecca, Marta, Jack, Maddie, Ariel, and Simona) dance a victory lap after winning today’s line chase.

Nov

18

S244 Oceans & Climate

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November 17, 2012
Position:  21° 17.2’N by 157° 54.5’W
Course:  160 PSC
Winds: ENE, Force 6

This was a momentous day, our first day of sailing in the open ocean!!!!!! All hands were on deck for the hauling back the anchor and the setting of the jib sail, forestays’l sail, mainstans’l, and a deep-reefed mains’l. The reefed mains’l being only a smaller version of the biggest sail onboard meant that all of us students had to downhaul with a 2-4-heave on the mains’l halyard. This was a sight to see! The sail down hauled so fast some of us could not even collect the rope fast enough. Smiles and laughter ensued. We are now finally on our way to Christmas Island after a day of practice setting and striking sails in the lee of Hawaii’s Oahu Island!

B watch, my watch, was the first up for deck, lab and galley duties. I was on deck watch, which is the coolest rotation of activities (so far as I haven’t yet worked in the lab or galley).  I rotated with my deck watch ship mates being the helmsman, steering the ship with the wheel. On this warm sunny day being the helmsman was a euphoric feeling which pushed all seasickness aside. We also had the opportunity to be a lookout, standing safely at the edge of the bow as the Robert C. Seamans crashed down into the waves beneath your feet. Sailing toward the horizon as the occasional wave got me soaking wet, I had the Titanic ‘I’m the king of the world’ moment. Some of the lookouts spotted flying fish!! Deck hands conducted hourly boat checks of all compartments, including the engine room, to catch any problems in their infancy. Deck hands also conducted weather observations every half an hour. After this six-hour shift, the C watch came to relieve us for dinner and sleep at 1900.

Tonight we are for the first time deploying gear over the port side of the ship for data collection. Hopefully, after a malfunction of the Niskin bottles on the carousel caused them not to trip during an instructional demonstration yesterday, they will trip during our stations today.

Currently, my shipmates and I are either continuously suffering from seasickness or only suffering from seasickness every time we check the engine room or go to sleep below decks. But this is mostly a puck and rally ship. With one class under our belt, so many sails to learn, so many commands to remember, so many future lab analysis to conduct, so many places to look at during the boat checks, so many instruments to read for the weather observations and so many miles ahead of us, we all are loving every minute of it and looking forward to what is to come.

Oh, and how could I forget we all completed the safety training to go aloft, climbing the rig! I was able to climb across one of the yards to the tip where only water was beneath. Don’t be alarmed, Mom, the ship was anchored, but we do get opportunities to go aloft while we are sailing!

-Darcy reporting from the Robert C. Seamans

P.S.- Hi Mom, I am doing great especially after the fax email I received!!  I love you mom!! See you back on land which I hear is another challenge that will have me falling all over the place trying to get my land legs back.
Caption for photo: Four sails set and drawing as we sail through the 5-foot waves of the Pacific.

Nov

17

S244 Oceans & Climate

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Aboard the Robert C. Seamans, position 21 16.5 N by 157 54.1 W, offshore of Oahu.  Course currently 193 True, speed 3.1 knots.  Weather: NE winds under sunny skies, Beaufort force 3.

After the whirlwind of activities completed during the shore component in Woods Hole, the student crew of Oceans and Climate Cruise S-244 boarded the SSV Robert C. Seamans yesterday afternoon. They were immediately immersed in a busy 24 hours of safety orientation while the vessel was docked at Pier 36 in Honolulu. There is much to learn and much to do before heading to sea, and the students threw themselves into climbing that steep learning curve with good cheer.

At 0500 this morning, we were treated to a tour of the Honolulu fish auction, located adjacent to where the Seamans was docked. Fresh tuna, billfish (swordfish, marlins, and spearfish) and other pelagic fish landed by the local commercial fisherman are sold at this auction to fish buyers representing the wholesale, retail and restaurant markets. Compared with other ports, Honolulu has a relatively low volume but high value fishery, much of which gets sold here. As the fishing vessels return to port, their catch is unloaded beginning shortly after midnight, and each fish is weighed, inspected, tagged, and kept on ice on pellets in a huge refrigeratored facility. Buyers arrive to inspect the fish, and the auction bidding begins promptly at 0530. Most fish are sold individually, and it was fascinating to watch how efficiently the bidding system worked as the auctioneer and the buyers made their way around the facility stopping briefly at each fish to bid against each other and agree on a price. The Hawaiian fisheries are among the most intensively studied, monitored and regulated fisheries in the world, and we learned about the ongoing research and efforts being made to ensure its sustainability.

Following a final round of dockside orientation and emergency drills this morning, we got underway and headed offshore from Honolulu. We’ve been enjoying a wonderful afternoon sail, with abundant opportunities for the students to start putting the sailing theories they learned onshore in Woods Hole into practice onboard the Seamans. Unless I’ve lost count, I think we’ve gybed eight times, so that each watch had their initial experience in learning the ropes. Literally. Of course, the vessel started to pitch and roll with the rising swell, and several of the crew have already sacrificed lunch to Neptune over the leeward rail. This should pass quickly as everyone gains their sea legs, and the ship’s company is in good spirits and looking forward to our upcoming adventures.

The plan is to continue enjoying this beautiful afternoon sail with the skyline of Honolulu and the beautiful Green Mountain peaks of Oahu in the distance, and then anchor in a relatively calm location near shore before heading out into the open ocean tomorrow. We’ve got an ambitious science program planned for this cruise, and that begins tomorrow. The students put a tremendous amount of effort into researching and preparing their science proposals during their shore classes in Woods Hole, and I can’t wait to see how those projects work out. The rest of the crew and I are all looking forward to working with the students during our time together at sea. They are a wonderful group!

We’ve gotten off to a fine start. Please continue reading this blog to hear about our adventures over the coming weeks. I just posted a sheet for all the crew to sign up to write their entries starting tomorrow. All is well onboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans. What a great place to be!

Audrey Meyer
Chief Scientist

P.S. Jim Clausnitzer, Simona asked if I would please pass along her Happy Birthday wishes for you tomorrow. Enjoy your special day!
Figure caption:  Visiting the Honolulu fish auction.

Nov

17

S244 Oceans & Climate

On Thursday November 15, 2012 the students of Class S-244 all successfully joined the Robert C. Seamans alongside in Honolulu, HI.  They are bound for Papeete, Tahiti on December 23.