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SSV Robert C. Seamans Blog

The Robert C. Seamans boards students of class S-241 (Ocean Exploration) in Honolulu, Hawaii on Friday May 11, 2012. They plan to sail south making a port stop at Palmyra Atoll. The ship will return to Honolulu, Hawaii on June 8, 2012.

Position information is updated on a workday basis only.

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



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 8 June 2012
Photo Caption: “All the knowledge in the world matters not without love.”

Not fare well, but fare forward, voyagers.
- T.S. Elliot



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 7 June 2012
Photo Caption: A blue marble to remind us that our planet is blue

“Steady as she goes, Emily,” Pamela told me in the darkness of the night as I clumsily walked on deck like a baby giraffe.  The eight-foot seas rocked our ship, throwing me off balance.  I relaxed my muscles, bended my knees, and reminded my body to move with the motion of the waves.  Her words resonated with me in more ways than one.  They served as a reminder to steady my body in order to regain balance, but they also reminded me to stay calm during this rollercoaster-like voyage—with its peaks of complete happiness, the troughs of overwhelming stress and exhaustion, and all that encompassed what was in between. 
During these past four weeks, we students have begun to internalize this steadiness that Pamela so often promotes.  It’s a skill that’s difficult to master.  There have been moments when my shipmates and I have felt or acted more like those never-ending, uncontrollable squalls in the ITCZ that pelted bullets of rain on our faces, violently rocked our ship, and infiltrated the fabrics of our clothes, leaving them wet and nauseatingly smelly for days.  There were moments when I was sprawled out on a deck box, so completely miserable because of seasickness and frustrated that I couldn’t help my watch mates who had to work double-time to cover my duties.  There were times when we students felt defeated because it seemed like we were ceaselessly given commands for no good reason and were endlessly notified of something else we did wrong—for not maintaining vigilance eternal or for not sail handling with enough alacrity.  What we are learning is that it’s easier to accept those uncomfortable times as inevitable parts of life at sea, to respond to what the day presents to us instead of throw our hands up in exasperation, and to change and improve what we can.
My goal at the beginning of this voyage was to always present myself in an energetic and cheerful manner, but the sea had different plans for me. Out here in the deep blue sea—where time takes on a new dimension, where the nighttime sky looks like a black dome with thousands of tiny holes of starlight poking through, where the ship’s company creates a self-sufficient, close-knit community—I had to accept that I couldn’‘t always present myself with complete composure.  There was no escape when I felt irritable or ungrounded, so my shipmates saw all dimensions of me, not just the energetic, cheerful ones.  I learned to rely on my shipmates to rejuvenate me and cheer me up.  I have a grateful heart for Lolo’s reefer hugs, Chuck’s help with our research project, Adrienne’s delightful wakeups at 0230, Jacob and Quinn’s lighthearted shenanigans, Caroline’s snorkeling trip with us girls in Palmyra, Emily S. being my other half, Lillian’s hug attacks, Pamela’s inspiring patience and nurturing guidance, Erin always greeting me with a radiant, “Hey, Sunshine!”, Heidi’s midwatch stories about a French date and more, Wouter’s encouraging words when I felt stressed, Randy’s help with seasickness (in more ways than just distributing my Meclizine), and for every other person on this boat who shaped and contributed to this amazing experience.
What was most empowering was that we accepted each other’s flaws and embraced that we all made mistakes—like the time Emily S. accidentally threw the plastic trash barrel, our biggest piece of plastic, overboard, the time that Katie reported “a circular light on the port bow that was getting bigger” only to realize it was the moon, and the (many) times that Jacob was 30° off course.  We learned to get outside of ourselves and support each other on those mornings of dawn cleanup when we were so incredibly tired that we just wanted to collapse in our bunks.  We learned to infuse lighthearted fun into the daily grind of work and chores.  We loved each other through our challenging moments.  We realized that we’re all just human.  More than knowing my lines, how to Ballantine, or the distribution of chlorophyll-a in the Central Gyre and Tropical Divergence, these are the lessons that I will carry with me for years.
Jamin, our Maritime Studies teacher, gave us each a blue marble at the beginning of our voyage.  The marble provides a visual for what this blue planet looks like from space.  Even though our ship would not even show up in space as a speck on our blue planet, the memories we created and the lessons we learned are extraordinarily, undeniably, and powerfully big.
Emily a.k.a. Booosssooommss a.k.a. B., student

P.S.—See you at Pier 36, Mama!



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 6 June 2012
Current Position: 12 miles SW of Lanai
Course & Speed: c/o 325psc at 4kts
Sail Plan: Sailing on a starboard tack under (only!) the forestays’l
Weather: Clear skies with winds from the ExS F5, and seas from the ENE 5ft
Photo Caption: Deckhands Katie and Marina give their final Oceanography presentation!

C watch was on dawn watch this morning, and we were greeted with a Hawaiian sunrise that backlit the mountains of the Big Island. It outdid every postcard from Hawaii that I’ve ever seen! This morning also came with the calmest seas we have encountered on the Pacific so far! Winds were a mere force 1, and under sail we were only traveling 0.1 knots! You can imagine how startling it was to transition from being the calm seas of the lee of the Big Island this morning to encountering the seas that we did in the Alenuihaha channel in between the Big Island and Maui. In Hawaiian this means “big wave, wind wind” and we definitely understood why. Swells came all the way up to the rail of the ship and left many of us off balance. Winds were some of the strongest we have seen on the entire trip, gusting up to a force 8!

The deckhands finished up the last of the science presentations today. Presentation topics included microplastics, phytoplankton density, and zooplankton diversity. It’s fascinating that you are able to see trends that have been well established by the oceanographic community by doing research at sea after only three weeks.

Now that the oceanography final papers and presentations are done everyone is left with a little bit of free time. Today several people used that time to go aloft and climb out onto the yards, work on various sewing projects with sail cloth, making other crafts of seine twine, and singing to Preston playing the mandolin in the main salon. I was so proud of Wei today because she climbed out onto the yards for the first time ever! And despite her initial nerves once she got out she was fearless!!

Today was also “Staff in the Galley Day”! This is the only day on the entire trip that our two beautiful stewards, Lolo and Sayzie, get a day off of cooking us our beloved six meals a day. Jaymes was the assistant steward for the day, and in the morning he was made aware of the locations of the fire extinguishers closest to the Galley.Luckily, there were no major cooking disasters and the staff succeeded in cooking beautiful meals. My personal favorite was the fish tacos that Caroline, Tommy and Preston made for lunch. 

Tonight we will be (hopefully) leaving the Alenuihaha channel and sailing by Molokai and onto a cove where we will anchor for tomorrow. While we are all thrilled about returning to shore, there are quite a few things about being
at sea that we will all miss. How are we going to survive without eating six meals a day?
Will we even be able to sleep eight hours straight anymore?
What are we going to do with free time?!
You’ll be hearing from all of us in two days!

Erin Cobb, Deckhand

PS CONGRATS! to my beautiful sister Kendra who just had a baby boy, Mason!!! I can’t wait to meet him. Mom, Dad and Ella, make sure you give Kenj a huge hug for me.



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 5 June 2012
Current Position: N 19 21.3’ x 156 16.5’ W
Course & Speed: c/o 320 psc, c/s 310 psc, making 7.3 knots, 20 nm SWxW of Kealakekua Bay
Sail Plan: Motorsailing 1400 RPM under four lowers deep reefed main
Weather: Winds N variable F2, seas 2 ft, visibility fair
Photo Caption: Hove to and happy

A big hug and hello friends and family! We are now in the lee of the Big Island of Hawaii, tracking along the Kona Coast. Conditions are calm, clear and beautiful—a lovely dawn watch to be on deck! At sunset last night we were making nearly 10 knots towards the southernmost point of Hawaii, now having slipped into the protection of the island unscathed by the notoriously rough sea. With luck we passed by with a gentle blessing rather than gale-force winds known to that region.

In 1778 Captain James Cook rounded this point, slowly circling the island for many weeks “trading with natives in canoes and sailing through the heaviest seas he’d ever encountered in the Tropics.” They coasted this same shore amazed at the alien landscape: “large tracts of a dark and almost black matter, which we at first supposed was the soil which the natives had dug up and manured; but we afterward found it was the product of a volcano.” Cook, who had refused to land before, anchored here in January 1779 in desperate need of water. They were greeted with multitudes singing, people swarming and general stadium-like frenzy. People filled the bay and climbed the ship, causing it to heel over. Captain Cook was soon escorted on land by a priest to a temple. This is where his journal falls silent, Kealakekua Bay being the mysterious end to James Cook.

Yesterday we traced history again, following Cook in yet another way. Around midday the planet Venus entered in line with the sun. The transit of Venus occurs rarely, the last being in 1769. The Endeavour, Cook’s first voyage into the Pacific, was sent with specific purpose from the Royal Society. Armed with navigation tools and mathematic gizmos of the age, Cook’s men were not solely sent to chart the southern waters and land. Although the society regards such science as “beneficial” Cook’s mission was to be a part of a world-wide astronomical project to observe the transit of Venus. They hoped that the project would help determine earth’s distance to the sun. The transit, they figured, would be better observed from the Pacific, and so Tahiti was chosen as the location. Cook’s men (and others stationed at 76 other points on the globe) witnessed the sight on June 3, 1769, but it was not a complete success.  The planet was blurred by some “Atmosphere” or “dusky shade”, despite perfect conditions, which led to error in the entry and exit times and differing observations. They would later find that this blur was insignificant because their instruments and knowledge or the day were insufficient for the job.

After class today, we had the rare opportunity to witness the transit, or as Pamela puts it “little Venus dancin’ her way across the sun.” We hove-to around 1600 and made a fire line to pass up sextants onto deck. Many of us found you didn’t even need the sextant to see Venus. If you held up one of the sextant shades to the sun, you could see a tiny black freckle. Pamela commented on how closely it resembles a sunspot and that “it’s incredible how they knew the difference”. In our lifetimes we can look back and remember that speck and all those nights of bow watch, to remember those great distances. The next transit is predicted to be in 2117.

In all, yesterday was quite a day! We’ve witnessed one of the beginning events on Cook’s adventure and even sailed by the end. Last night the moon was a deep orange dipping beneath the horizon, wedged between the lights on the island ridges and the Southern Cross we’ve been tracking since being initiated as shellbacks. Our last CTD and styrocast was a success (who else can say they decorated and own a cup that has been thousands of meters deep in the ocean?). The final deadline on research projects came at 2359 yesterday, marking the end to the chaotic shuffle. People will be crafting, writing, and climbing rigging, but not without feeling the overwhelming amount of experience and emotion that has yet to be processed. Not only do days change my perspective, but even flashing moments have the power to transform the experience. The next two days will be full of these flashing moments, and as President Bollard warned us, it will be even more of an emotional rollercoaster than the last few weeks. We’ve learned how to sail a tallship, but can we even sail our own lives? Let’s go back to the first three rules of sailing: keep the people on the ship, the water out the ship, and the ship on the water. Or as B puts it, “just keep your feet on the boat.” Seems like good advice.

Kate Dawg



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 4 June 2012
Current Position: 16 52.7 N x 155 33.2 W
Course & Speed: 000, 7.6 knots
Sail Plan: motorsailing under the staysls and the jib
Weather: A few clouds and an amazingly bright, perfectly full moon!
Photo Caption: Wouter, Jacob and Quinn sheeting in the forestaysl.

Its been an exciting few days in the galley! Students are rotating through for the second time as junior stewards, and this time around they have much more responsibility. They are in charge of planning the menu for the day, which includes three meals and three snacks. The students are expected to manage their time well, and make sure everything goes out on time.  Sayzie and I have been ducking into the background and serving as resources and assistants for the students as they take charge of the galley. Today was Malcolms second galley day, and we turned out a breakfast of scrambled eggs and peppers with bacon, followed by vegetarian lettuce wraps for lunch and turkey meatloaf for dinner. The hit of the day was Malcolms afternoon snack of carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting!

Its been fun to see the students become more comfortable in the galley, and even more fun to see what new meal and snack ideas each student has. With such a diverse group of people, weve seen a ton of exciting foods prepared.  Marina taught me how to make a vegan frittata the other day, and Adrienne showed us her special Alaskan marinade for salmon. Wouter made a beautiful hand-kneaded bread with lots of nuts and grains, and Jacob taught me how to make perfect bacon on the griddle (which he then served in muffin tins!). Getting to spend two days with each student, one on one, is an amazing opportunity for Sayzie and I to get to know them, and it is one of my favorite things about this job. With only three days left until we reach Pier 36 in Honolulu, I keep reminding myself to stop and appreciate all of the people around me. I have been enjoying how close we have grown as a community, and how we all help and support each other.  I would not be able to do my job without the help of my shipmates, and I feel very lucky to be a part of this wonderful group of people.

Right now, everyone is coloring on styrofoam cups in the library in preparation for tomorrows styrocast, where we will send our beautifully decorated cups into the depths to be shrunk by the increased pressure. Mine isn’t finished yet, so Im off to do some serious artwork!

Lots of love to my wonderful Mom, I miss you a lot and I cant wait to see you! Additional love goes to Ashley, Jim, Aunt Linda, Aunt Tracey and Linda & Kenny. Im really looking forward to seeing you all!

-Lolo, Assistant Steward



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 2-3 June 2012
Current Position:  14° 51.3’ N x 155° 27.1’ W
Course & Speed:  000, 8 kt
Sail Plan: Motor sailing under the stays’ls.
Weather: Squalls and rain to windward!
Photo Caption: A heteropod pulled up in the neuston tow from our Central Gyre location.

It’s deep into the night watches, and the Robert C. Seamans screams north, eating up miles, pounding through the swells.  She is driven faster than ever before by our now experienced helmsmen and helmswomen.  The heavy seas have calmed significantly, but a rogue wave still means you reach and grab and hold on to the spot you’ve mentally picked out as your “grab onto spot.  On rolling ship, you must always plan for a place to hang onto.

Though the lights dim to red and the ship becomes quiet at this hour, the work continues.  Under a silvery, bright moon on deck, a lookout scans the black horizon constantly for lights and dark, ominous clouds.  At the helm, we battle each wave to keep on track for the looming Hawaiian mountains that will pop out of the horizon any day now.  Every hour, someone does the rounds: sniffing for smells, listening through the creaking rigging and chirping sonar for new noises, shining a red light into every dark crevice and compartment.  The Junior Watch Officer watches the sky and building clouds, checks the radar, monitors the wind speed and direction.  Someone in the galley scrubs the floors and stove to a sparkling shine to make way for a new day of delicious food.

In lab, our students have been tinkering with figures to tell the story of the reams of data we’ve collected over the last three weeks.  Some beautiful patterns are emerging!  The subtropical gyre is “blue blue blue, dead dead dead” just as Chief Scientist Chuck Lea promised!  Low levels of nutrients, chlorophyll-a (indicating presence of phytoplankton), and zooplankton. Small critters in the net tows!  Tiny blue-ringed Porpita porpita the size of a pin-head, tiny Man-o-war jellies floating blue in the wind, and a smattering of copepods to pick through under the microscope.  Delphinia has identified two distinct water masses in the region that span over 7 degrees of latitude!  Jacob has identified that one species of halobates, the insect that strides upon the surface of the sea, is confined to this subtropical ecosystem.  The chlorophyll group (Emily S, Emily B, and Kate) have measured a spike in phytoplankton 150 meters below the surface, where deep, cold, nutrient rich waters meet the thick layer of blue, dead surface waters topping the gyre.  But as we headed south, everything changed!  Hot, salty equatorial waters brimming with life out of nowhere, right smack in the middle of the ocean!  The nutrients are pushing their way to the surface, riding a cold upwelling surge to fill the space made by the rushing trade winds.  The phytoplankton are turning the surface waters green!  The Porpita porpita are now larger than a dollar coin!  There is a completely different species of halobates!

So our solitary night watch continues in the lab in preparation for the oceanographic research presentations tomorrow, the culmination of a lot of good, hard work.  A little last-minute cramming of good ideas into writing and we’re on our way to the finish line. 

Julia Twichell, Assistant Scientist



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 1 June 2012
Current Position:  09° 33.2’ N x 156° 24.4’ W
Course & Speed:  020, 10 kt
Sail Plan: Motor sailing under the stays’ls
Weather: mostly clear skies with a few cumulus clouds
Photo Caption: Sunset under the sails

It’s Friday morning, somewhere in vast Pacific Ocean. As I open my eyes to the new day, I find myself rocked gently as the Robert C. Seamans rolls with the passing swells, hove to, set up for a science station. Chief Scientist Chuck is at it again, counting off hundreds of meters of wire as we drop our hydrocast, with all its many sensors, deep, deep into the depths below. The sun is bright, the sky is clear, and all seems well. But maybe that’s because it’s the first night I’ve had a full 7 hours to devote to sleep in three days, though I must say it’s not the sleep I’m used to, being tossed side to side, up and down, as we break through crests or slide down troughs of every surging, passing swell.

But then again life at the high seas is far different than any I’‘ve known before, for when we cut the motor, set the Stays’ls, Jib, JT and the Fish, catch the wind full and by, to lift us up and forward, homeward, the boat seems to come alive, flinging off her earthy weight and flying over the tops of these waters. And if you are at the helm, with Captain Pamela at your side, telling you to feel for the tightening rigging, telling you to listen to the boat, telling you find the groove, and then you start to feel the groove, and wind blowing hard into the sails, filling them out, the rigging stretching taught to hold the power of the wind, you set your feet wide on the deck, and laugh out loud for joy, knowing that at this moment, surrounded by all the endless waters of the pacific, that this is the place you want to be, that all the hard work, lack of sleep, sweaty, hot nights, and the constant struggle to adjust your life to the new demanding rules of the seas and the boats working order are all worth it.

These moments, these moments of joy, happiness, hope, excitement and expectation, come few and far between, but here on the Robert C. Seamans, they are a daily wonder and pierce through these long endless days. I need but look aloft, feel the wind on my face, or look out, out across the waters that are swelling, surging, and breaking, catching the moon’s glow, or the setting sun’s rays and know that this a powerful and magnificent experience.

I came here to learn through experience, to push myself away from my comforts, to break my habits, to gain perspective, to change, but those were all words, thoughts, ideals that I conjured up at the thought of sailing these deep blue waters. The reality of it has been so much harder, physically demanding, mentally trying, and exhausting than I could ever have expected for all that I said I was prepared. But with these seeming trials, comes the change that I had been hoping for and when I look around at my fellow students, at the deck hands who have all returned for more, at the crew who live their life for this, I know they feel the same.

Three weeks at sea you say, I say a life time, these days never seem to end, often I am so dead beat tired I can barely walk in a straight line, crashing into the walls of the ship as I do my boat check, I never seem to really sleep, I am always at a meal or doing work for class, and there is certainly not a moment to stop and think and collect my thoughts. Three weeks! But it seems only now, now that we are a week away from pier 36, Honolulu Harbor, a week away from freedom, from making our own choices of when to sleep, when and where to eat, what to do, what to think, that I am getting into the rhythm of the life at sea. I know that this last week will fly by, that before I know it I’ll be on a plane to Phoenix, Arizona, where my dad will pick me up early in the morning and drive me home, home to the desert and dry heat of Tucson, far away from any body of water.

So what to do but to enjoy this last week, this last week of a new lifetime and learn and laugh and work hard as much as I can. And who knows, maybe I’ll be back, back for more.

Wouter Zwart, Student aboard the Robert C. Seamans.



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 31 May 2012
Current Position: 06° 38.4’ N x 156° 54.4’ W
Course & Speed: 010, 5.6 kt.
Sail Plan: Motor sailing under the stays’ls
Weather: cloudy with continuous squalls
Photo Caption: A-watch aka A-Team after our morning watch

Greetings to all of our blog readers from the salty deck of the Robert C. Seamans! The continual trend from the past 18 hours has been ‘Git your foulies out!’ as we pass through the inter-tropical convergence zone or ITCZ. It has been squall after squall with winds reaching 30 knots and several steady downpours. Bow watch- which has been taken back to amidships until the seas die down a bit resembles the splash zone at Sea World (without the whales unfortunately). The un-letting squall lines and larger seas are magnifying our close haul to the wind- giving everyone on board a very rocky ride. We are beating to windward and we can feel it.

The lucky souls who reside in the foc’sle (most forward compartment) are literally being thrown around in their racks as they try to sleep. I, for one, am glad to be living aft of the main saloon where the seas are less pronounced. Quinn seems to have gotten the most unfortunate rack as several well-placed waves calculated their trajectory to go down the ventilation system and into his rack. Luckily there are a few extra racks without an ocean-side spray he can relocate to.

Through all of the seas, wind, and squalls our science mission is still going strong- after all that is the reason why we sail! This morning on watch, A watch deployed a secchi disk and hydrocast and tonight we begin our Junior Watch Officer or JWO phase for the students to take over the deck- but more on that in a later blog. Right now we are all wishing for clear skies and some sun. Until then we will continue to wring out our foulies and keep our eyes on the horizon for some fairer seas and rays of sunshine.

Katie Richwine, deckhand

p.s. Hello to all family and friends- miss you all and cannot wait to see you all soon!!!



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 30 May 2012
Current Position: 459.90N x 15701.44W
Course & Speed: 099, 5.7kts
Sail Plan: Motorsailing under the staysls, mainsl, and the jib
Weather: Clear skies all day, occasional squalls in the evening
Photo Caption: Erin and Preston being silly on Palmyra

Were closing in on just a week left before returning to Honolulu, Hawaii, thus the end of our month-long cruise together.  Tomorrow, we enter Junior Watch Officer/Junior Lab Officer (JWO/JLO) phase in which the students and deckhands become independently responsible for managing the deck and the lab during their watches. Its been an incredibly humbling experience for all of us to be thrown outside our comfort zone and expected to learn hundreds of new things daily and retain them, even at 0200 in the morning. We still have so much to learn, but thinking back to our first few days on the SSV Robert C. Seamans, its hard not to smile at how far we’ve come. Ill never forget seeing the ship for the first time on the dock in Honolulu. A rush of excitement and fear washed over me as I gazed up the masts and wondered what life at sea would be like. When Im seasick, exhausted, overwhelmed, and wondering why I even signed up for this in the first place, I think back to the childlike wonder I felt only three weeks ago. I’m reminded that this journey is not just about learning how to sail.

So Im sitting in the library, listening to Tommy and Marina play guitars and sing, and waiting patiently for the dinner bell to eat Ratatouille, fresh baked bread, and salad with pears and vanilla caramelized onions (I know, right!?). C-watch is standing deck and battling a squall while the rest of ships company is scattered about working on research projects and various delegated tasks. Rather than give a play-by-play of just another average Wednesday aboard the ship, Ive decided to breakdown our journey so far into what I know and love: lists!

S-241 by the numbers:
-Souls on board: 30
-Days at sea: 18
-Nautical Miles travelled: 1,951
-Hours slept in the past day: 6
-Times eaten in the past day: 6
-Inches of hair Ive cut off: 8
-Times weve crossed the equator: 2
-Number of pollywogs aboard: 0!!
-Gallons of diesel fuel used: 2,105
-Gallons of fresh water used: 13,500
-Number of times weve seen land: 3
-Number of times weve gybed today: 5 or more weve lost track
-Number of flying fish weve seen: a ton
-Number of boobies weve seen: even more than a ton
-Number of boobie jokes made: too many

Things Ive learned:
-The heads (toilets) do not, in fact, flush the opposite way in the southern hemisphere - they still flush down
-Saltines and Gatorade are often the only foods that will stay down on 10ft seas
-There is an art to waiting for the ship to roll and effortlessly launch you into your bunk
-Three days at sea pass as one, and a four-hour watch can feel like forever
-Jamin, our Maritime Studies professor, was right - sailing revolves around one thing: work. Everything is work. All the time.
-Meclizine is good, but laughter is undoubtedly the best medicine for seasickness.  Side effects may include aching abs and sore cheeks
-You can still get sunburnt at 7am on the equator
-Dont be surprised if, upon returning to land, we are freaked out by staircases, terrified to put our elbows on the dinner table, and incessantly repeat commands, i.e. Can you please pass the salt, Emily? PASSING THE SALT!!

Emily Steingart, student

P.S. Dad, so glad everything is okay and wishing you a speedy recovery (NDY!). I miss you and Mom, and I love both you immensely. Ill be home soon.
P.P.S. Quinn misses his mom. He says hi
P.P.P.S. Dai Mar happy anniversary and I miss you. Good luck moving. Love, Heidi
P.P.P.P.S. Happy late birthday mom. Love, Caroline



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 29 May 2012
Current Position: 2° 18.4’ N X 157° 33.2’W
Course & Speed: North, 6 knots
Sail Plan: Sailing on a starboard tack under the Main stays’l, forestays’l, jib and JT
Weather: Cloudy with little rain
Photo Caption: The Robert C. Seamans sailing along

Almost exactly one year ago, I set out with my parents on an eight hour car ride to Woods Hole, MA to start my SEA semester with class S236. It has been less than a year since I completed my time as a student on the Seamans and I couldn’’t stay away that long, so I came back as a deck hand. It’s been fantastic being able to sail with some familiar faces such as Erin, Preston, and Lolo, who are all alumni from my class, as well as Randy and Captain Pamela. Returning to the ship was like returning to my second home, and so much has stayed the same.  Food still slides off the non-stick pads into your lap on very rough days, and it still takes at least ten people hauling on the halyard to set the Mains’l. What has changed the most is the faces that fill each bunk. On my student trip, they were filled with people I had already spent a month with. On this trip, they are filled with people I met just two weeks ago, but who I already feel I know quite well, and who have welcomed the deckhands and the professional crew into their close knit group.

So far, I have had a great time working along with the students as a deckhand. I am grateful for the opportunity to gain more experience sailing, but I also enjoy seeing the students struggle with and overcome the same challenges I faced myself as a student such a short time ago. I remember when the process of setting a sail finally made sense to me as a student, and I love seeing other students come to the same understanding, sometimes with my help even.

Today itself was a wonderful day. My watch (B watch) was on watch from 1300 to 1900. During this time, we sailed passed Christmas Island. As we approached it, we saw that the clouds above the island had a faint green tinge, made even more noticeable with the help of polarized sunglasses. It turns out that the green color comes from the clouds reflecting the color of the reef around the island. Before the times of GPS or reliable charts, this was a way to spot land from far away at sea. The watch was otherwise uneventful, filled with striking, setting, and trimming sails. Everyone in the watch has learned so much about sail handling in so little time; it never ceases to amaze me. Our watch ended with a beautiful sunset that turned the clouds orange and pink.

It feels great to be back at sea, with new and old shipmates alike, Fair winds and following seas,
Chelsea, deckhand

P.S. Mom, Dad, Corey, I hope you had a great vacation. I’m (not really) sorry for ditching you guys! <3



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 28 May 2012
Current Position: 02° 01.8’ N X 157° 32.3’ W
Course & Speed:  C/O 010, C/S 002
Sail Plan: To Honolulu
Weather: Overcast, with some Squalls
Photo Caption: New Shellbacks

Yesterday was full of madness and excitement. We finally crossed the Equator as Pollywogs and have emerged as mighty Shellbacks of Neptune’s Court. It was a grand time. I can’t say anymore on the matter or Neptune will release the Kraken to hunt me down and cast me into Davy Jones’s Locker, though you may find some of the crew coming home with less hair than before.

Currently we are hanging out off of Christmas Island while some weird science is going on in the lab. There are a few terns flying around, and I think I just saw the first fly I have seen since we left Honolulu. I have been away from Palmyra for less than a week and I already am missing land a bit. Specifically land-based activities like running, jumping, and climbing on rocks.

Time in lab has been really cool. The other day we caught a couple baby squid. It has been really interesting that some of the basic things we do in science, like looking through a microscope, has greatly increased in difficulty just from the movement of the seas.

Our projects are going great, and we have lots to do in the next week. My group is wading through pteropods by the dozen. Presentations in a week!!!

Sailing has been fine, though there were plenty of squalls last night. Bow Watch has turned into a bit of a roller coaster ride on occasion.

It is really odd though. The time has flown by at a snail’s pace: so slow, and yet I am surprised to discover that it has been so long already. The schedule makes all the days blur into one long day with many naps.

Shout out to the Fam. Looking forward to being home. And sleeping. Lots of sleeping.

-Jaymes Awbrey aka. Jimbo, aka. Jaymbo, aka. Jameson

P.S. Delphinia misses her lion.
P.P.S. Useless Fact: Formalin and Hydrochloric Acid mixed together is Mustard Gas.



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 25 May 2012
Current Position: 3° 16.6’N x 160° 49.8’W
Course & Speed: 135° at 7.5 knots
Sail Plan: The stays’ls, jib, and storm tris’l
Weather: Cloudy with intermittent squalls/rain
Photo Caption: Emily at the microscope

Greetings from the science lab! I’ve just been working on identifying some wicked cool phytoplankton under the microscope, which makes me very happy. As a deckhand, I was expecting to spend most of my time helping out (of all places) on the deck. However, Chief Scientist Chuck Lee decided that since we have an abundance of deckhands on this cruise, we might as well make ourselves useful in the lab too. We’ve been divided into three groups based on our watches, and each group gets a project to work on. My group, as you may have inferred, is doing phytoplankton, and the other two groups are doing zooplankton and microplastics. My background is in marine science, so I’ve been having a fabulous time nerding out over statistics and spreadsheets and making pretty graphs. 

Yesterday we also spent our class time hearing all about the different scientific projects that the students are working on, which was super interesting. We’ve got students working on everything from physical oceanography to marine insects, and they each bring their own particular flair to their research. My SEA experience played a huge role in inspiring me to pursue a graduate degree in ocean science, so it’s really cool for me to see the students getting so excited about oceanography.

Phytoplankton haikus:

Drift within the ocean gyres
Round and round again

Silica frustules
Diatoms remind me of
Delicate glass prisms

Shiloh Schlung

P. S. Love you, family and friends! Happy 16th birthday (a few days late) to Sky, and congrats to Jedidiah and Noelle on your engagement!



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 24 May 2012
Current Position: 5° 14.0’ N x 161° 50.1’ W
Course & Speed: Heading 140° at 6.5 knots
Sail Plan: Mainstays’l, Forestays’l and Jib
Weather: Sunny, hot and humid with 6’-8’ seas
Photo Caption: Wei, Jacob and I on an island in the sun.

In the past couple of days I’’ve seen more Boobies than I probably will in my entire life. Boobies Boobies everywhere. To the left. To the right. Above and below. Boobies. Where can you find all these Boobies you may ask? Well dear friend, there is a healthy population of mature Boobies on the Pacific atoll of Palmyra. How does one come upon a land of such wondrous entertainment?  It’’s not easy.  We sailed over a thousand miles from Honolulu to get there and we just departed this morning.  The atoll was out of sight within a couple of hours, as our sails full of wind, pushed us to the Southeast.  Once again, we’’re alone in this great blue abyss.

I’‘ve swabbed decks, swabbed soles and swabbed bulkheads. Our weary souls have been deprived of sleep. We’’ve run from the ominous doom of squall lines more than once. Some of us even ventured to the point of having too much fun in our one day on Palmyra.  A few hours later, we found ourselves in the brigg, ne’’er again to leave the vessel.

So is this all worth it? With the blisters on my hands, wounds on my skin
and salt in my eyes I’‘d say “Hells Yea.” 

I can’’t describe to a blind man the color blue.
I can’’t explain my time at sea to you.
So trust me dear.
The skies are gray but my eyes are clear.
In my heart I never fear.

Cast off your bow lines.
Haul on your yards.

My wanderings have taken me here.

It’‘s the life of a sailor. Though, I’‘m not cut out as such. I ride the tides. I drift in the currents. I follow the winds. Counting my blessings, I set my own sails.

I’‘m a wanderer at heart. This Earth is a great vessel for my soul.

All Love to family and friends. Here we all are. Be home soon.




S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 23 May 2012
Current Position: 5°23.2’N x 162°05.5’W
Course & Speed: Anchored in Palmyra Atoll
Weather: Wonderful
Photo Caption: Julia, Heidi and Saphrona exploring the crashed plane in Palmyra’s mini-airport.

Second day in Palmyra is again filled with fabulous weather, blueness/ greenness, and lots of seabirds and crabs. These two nights we got the permission to sleep on deck under the stars. We had a pleasant time cuddling together on the foredeck, staring into the stars, listening to Preston playing mandolin, and falling asleep while chatting about life, etc.

Today the Port watch, who worked hard yesterday to take care of the ship, went onshore to enjoy the wonders of Palmyra. Wei snorkeled for the first time in her life. Her lovely third mate Heidi coached her on the fine art of snorkeling. Malcolm was also a super conscientious and helpful snorkeling buddy. Palmyra reefs “blew Hawaii out of the water” (quoting Heidi). Everyone was stunned by the colorful and lively reef system. The lucky ones got to swim together with sharks, manta rays, sea turtles and giant clams. Sayzie had an exciting two-hour session watching crabs interacting with sea anemones. Julia also had fun watching coconuts surfing the waves and sea turtles swimming by. Palmyra has a cute mini-airport with one mile-long runway. We got the probably once-in-a-lifetime chance to stroll freely on a runway. Julia, Heidi and Saphrona explored the inside of the small airplane which crashed at the end of the runway a long time ago. After enjoying the rope swing, snorkeling and hiking, the Port watch played ‘Keep Away’ in the water. Boys against girls. Girls won. The Starboard watch stayed on the Seamans and worked hard on various projects to prepare the ship to go underway tomorrow morning. The Starboard watch ended their working day with a swim call. Wei went aloft during the swim call to enjoy the quietness. At night, we invited the people working in Palmyra to the Seamans for dinner. They toured ship and chatted about all kinds of random things with the hands on board. Right now, behind me, I hear the students and deckhands enjoying the last bit of down time before we get underway tomorrow, relaxing, chatting and writing down their “best day ever” in their journals. We will leave Palmyra early tomorrow morning. It will be the start of Phase II, during which the students will “shadow” the mates and get more involved with the big-picture sail plan and navigation.

At last, love from Palmyra.

Xin Wei, S-241 Deckhand

PS. LaoPo =3=, DouDou, DaShaMa, Wo hen xiang ni men T___T   Ru guo ni neng pei wo yi qi lv xing.



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 22 May 2012
Current Position: 5°23.2’N x 162°05.5’W Anchored in Palmyra
Course & Speed:
Sail Plan:
Weather: Fabulous
Photo Caption: The girls of port watch gather on the railing for a much needed jump in the lagoon after a long day of work.

One could not capture the joy felt by all us crew of the Seamans as we came to anchor yesterday afternoon. The sight of palm trees and the calling of many birds flying overhead gave us a feeling of security; land. Imagine hearing “wide-awake” repeated by these miraculous birds who can stay at sea up to 18 months, sleeping on the wing and making home on this remote paradise. Palmyra is an atoll previously used as a base by the US Navy and now dubbed a National Wildlife Refuge. After many radio communications, a waiver signed and orientation, we were given the privilege to visit the beauties of Palmyra. Half the crew had the day off, snorkeling and exploring land (more on that excitement tomorrow). The other half remained on the ship to work on science projects and port chores. With the wind ripping through the lagoon at 16 knots the squares’ls still needed tidying.  Climbing aloft on the foremast and hearing the wind whistling sent a shiver through our spine; harnesses became our best friends and we clipped in every step of the way. Even with our shivers, the sun beat down with unbelievable strength and shade was “expensive” real estate. Teasing us throughout the day was the lagoon, a mere ten feet below the railing. After a hard day’s work on board the Seamans, first mate Caroline, called for a final muster and it ended in (you guessed it)… swim call!!! Twelve days out at sea and we still had yet to soak it up, still had yet to be anywhere but on the ship. Students promptly finished up last minute chores and lined up on the railing for a group jump. I remember someone specifically saying that seeing the Seamans from an outward perspective made her really appreciate this experience. Hearing this I realized that I haven’t taken time to reflect, but instead I’ve been completely involved in the on-goings of life aboard. Yes, I agree land is great and all, but a ship; she’s a home, a place that brings many people together and creates an environment in which each individual must work together to become something greater; the crew, the family. In coming to Palmyra we are able to share our experience and learn about others, it seems to be a gathering place, and a very remote one at that. Tonight everyone was able to go ashore (and try to regain our “land legs”) for a cookout. Not only did the Seamans’ crew and Palmyra residents (all 6 of them, and by residents I mean people working on Palmyra) attend, but also 3 men from the single other yacht. We were greeted by smiling faces, turtle signs and tiki torches. Everyone was in awe by the wide array of colors we were surrounded by and almost unable to process the many other things happening around us. We were no longer completely dependent on a floating vessel and could now let our minds wonder at the beauty. At the cookout we had the opportunity to mingle and dust off our social skills. After an hour sitting around the campfire, it was proposed that we go on a venture, in search of coconut crabs and ghost stories. Tiki torches in hand the majority headed into the “wilderness” to see what there was. We came across the biggest crabs I have ever seen and had the silliest scares I have ever experienced. Apparently there was a murder on Palmyra, and the assassin lives in a shack and drinks stolen gin to his heart’s content (well that second part not so true, but there was a murder). We gave the best scream the residents have yet to hear on their rarely given spooky tour of Buck’s cabin. On our walk back to the docks, many lights dimmed and the stars shone in full force. I learned some new constellations and was reminded of old. In the little artificial light we tiptoed our way back to the docks, avoiding hermit crabs nearly every step of the way. Our hosts remained with us until we departed the dock and left for home. Their generous hospitality was much appreciated by me and everyone else in the crew. I’m sure we all learned a lot from our little time spent together and this is a memory we all will hold dear to our hearts. After all, how many people come to Palmyra? … According to the signatures on the walls of the “yacht club,” not many. So on behalf of the Seamans’ crew, I would like to thank the Palmyra residents, native and foreign, for not only a wonderful experience, but also one I’m sure many of us will have a hard time reliving.

Much love to everyone back at home, miss you bunches! xo

Delphinia Remaniak. Student S241



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 21 May 2012
Current Position: Palmyra Atoll
Course & Speed: Anchored
Sail Plan: Harbor-furled
Weather: Lightly dispersing fluffy clouds backlit by a stunning sunset, a warm breeze passing through the lagoon.
Photo Caption: Sunset over Palmyra, seen from deck.

Sunday dinner wound down slowly, sprinkled with games and laughter, the unusually well-dressed sailors drifting into a haze after a long hot day of sailing and a boisterous afternoon swizzle. Sweet melodies filled the rolling ship as the guitar made the rounds of pickers and singers. Shipmates gradually bid goodnight until only a small party remained in the library, singing softly and enjoying a calm night underway.

Not four hours later came the wake-ups for Dawn Watch, with the ever ominous suggestion of “Bring your foulies on deck, there’s a squall.” A-Watch quickly rallied to duty, surprised to be moving about the ship on a starboard tack, with bunks and passageways heeled opposite the direction everyone had grown accustomed to. We were speeding north in near-gale force winds, trying to let the squall pass astern of us, and we succeeded with only a short mile to spare. The squall evaded, we quickly gybed back onto our familiar port tack to resume our southward course for Palmyra. Exciting and none-too-cautious sail-handling filled the watch as we tried to pick up every last bit of speed. The sun broke the cloud-laden horizon in the midst of our maneuvers, and we soon turned over to B-Watch.

By the time A-Watch reemerged on deck for afternoon class, “Land ho!” had already been sounded. The sky had turned from the brilliant blue so familiar at sea to the cheerful pale blue of sky over land. A barely discernible line of palm trees marked our first sight of Palmyra Atoll. Class consisted of a wild mix of sail-handling, presentations, bitter chocolate tasting, and the students’ lab practical exam. An escort of seabirds swooping overhead and dolphins surfing the bow wake below brought us closer and closer to land. Some were speechless, some couldn’t stop crying out in awe. The calls of tropical seabirds rose to a high chorus as we came through the channel, making our way past reefs and breakers, beaches and WWII detritus. Mud splatters from the anchor, high fashion sail furling, and the emergence of our three small boats marked our official arrival as we anchored safely in the lagoon. We could not be in brighter spirits. 

Marina Cassio, Deckhand

P.S. All my love to family and friends. I think of you all the time.



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 19-20 May 2012
Current Position: 08 54.05 N x 160 50.64 W
Course & Speed: N/A, 0.6kt
Sail Plan: Hove to
Weather: Starry, starry night. Prior to heaving to, we were making 6.1 kts under stays’ls and a jib!
Photo Caption: Sayzie, Erin, and Lolo in our newly de-munged galley!

Greetings from the galley! Today was our first field day of S241. Although the ship is cleaned every morning after dawn watch and the galley gets a good scrubbing every night, field day allows us the opportunity to reach into all the nooks and crannies of the ship. It also allows us the opportunity to dress for the occasion!

Field day began with a special visit from Reverend Chuck (who looked suspiciously like our chief scientist Chuck), who gave an impassioned sermon on mung. Mung is not a liquid. It is not a solid. It is not dead. It is not alive. It is the sticky, dark goo lurking in cracks, corners, and crevices. For three hours, the entire ship’s company seeks to destroy the mung and bring light wherever we go. C watch takes the aft part of the ship, while B watch heads forward and A watch takes the galley. The Stewards take turns steering, singing morale-boosting songs, and distributing candy. This morning, the not-insignificant swell was coming from our port quarter, and the captain was on hand with tips on how to steer a following sea, using the rudder angle to steady the ship. Field day is also the one day of the week when the radios come to life, each section of the ship filled with the preferences of that particular watch-from 60s rock to 70s disco, from country to pop, from Janis Joplin to Lady Gaga-making the introduction of music to the shipboard environment all the more powerful. 

Field day also necessitates that the ovens, stove, and griddle remain cool for cleaning. This means cold breakfast and lunch, which is actually an exciting opportunity for galley to get creative! Today, the cleaning extravaganza ended at 1100, giving us just an hour and twenty minutes until the first seating of lunch! Lolo Hill, Erin Cobb (our incomparable junior steward of the day), and I worked double-time to put out tuna salad, egg salad, vegetable salad, chilled pears, greek salad wraps, bean and corn salad, ginger soy pasta salad with bell peppers, and another pasta salad with fresh basil, tomatoes, and summer squash. A cold lunch is not only refreshing after a hot morning of hard work, but it’s also a great opportunity to combine leftover farfalle and leftover roasted squash into something new. “Waste not, want not” is especially appropriate on an extended sea voyage!

Although we were all tired after a long day, and although clouds low on the horizon prevented us from seeing the now-usual north star off of our starboard quarter opposing the southern cross off of our port bow, we nevertheless found ourselves up on deck after dinner, helping C watch to pass sail, coil lines, and heave to for a science deployment (and a brief unsuccessful attempt at squid jigging). Hauling on lines in a good wind never fails to invigorate! But now it’s off to our bunks to catch a few hours of sleep, as we’re excited to turn today’s afternoon snack of banana bread into banana bread french toast in the morning!

Much love from the galley!

Buona notte,
Sayzie, Lolo, and Erin



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 18 May 2012
Current Position: 09°38.8’N, 160°22.9’W
Course & Speed: Going South, Log 729
Sail Plan: Beautiful
Weather: Sunny, warm
Photo Caption: Students of A-Watch. From left to right: Wouter Zwart, Emily
Ann Busam, Emily Steingart, Jacob Harris

So there we were,
It was early evening and the setting sun brought romance to the warm, salty air. The passion of the sea brought lust to our hearts and the mustache-donning A-Watch brought an arousing allure to the view on deck. A-Watch, the obviously superior, most nimble, bravest, and best looking third of the crew all rocked mustaches for the duration of their watch rotation with a demeanor that drew into them the power of the ocean and commanded respect from Poseidon himself. The light of the heavens beamed down on the Robert C. Seamans through clear skies as she elegantly surfed over waves with unprecedented style and swagger. The words and philosophy of Biggie Smalls (the Notorious B.I.G.) harmoniously guided our ship further and further into the depths of the wild Pacific. Not literally the depths, because we were actually floating on top of the great blue surface, which was honestly really wet. Continuing south, however, we found ourselves closer the unexplored ocean bottom than any known landmass. But there we were, and that is what we were, explorers of a new world from our own moving island. Anyway, back to where we were; I, as Look Out, standing on the bow, charging ahead through wind and ocean spray observing this vast unknown. Above me the sails set magnificently against the Milky Way and a star-filled black abyss, below me bioluminescent plankton danced in our wake and the breaking swells against an even blacker abyss. I looked on, sole surfing through the sea when my shoulder was struck and I feel a splash along with the blunt force. I look around. There is no one. I look up. I look down into the water. Nothing. Finally, I turn behind me and see a shining silver torpedo flopping around on the deck. A flying fish had launched itself in an all-out assault on our island. In defense of our sacred vessel, I pointed my finger sternly at futile soldier and told it who’s boss. Then I picked the fish up and threw it back into the vast ocean from where it came directing it to “tell the others what you’ve seen!”

This is one of the many daily surprises and lessons learned on our adventure. They call me the Gangsta of Love, but I am constantly reminded that Love is a Battlefield.

-Jacob Harris, Student S241



S241 - Ocean Exploration


Date: 17 May 2012
Current Position: 13° 25.48’ N x 159° 01.30’W
Course & Speed: 180° PSC, 4.7 knots
Sail Plan: Jib, Top sail, forestaysail and the main staysail
Weather: Winds Easterly, BF 5 mostly sunny with scattered clouds
Photo Caption: Cupcakes, Turtle cupcake, Penguin cupcake

Greetings from the Robert C. Seamans! We are well on our way to Palmyra atoll having traveled over 500 nautical miles. As we make way, we are easing into the rhythm of life onboard a tall ship both physically to the rolling of the ship, and mentally to the watch schedule. Today was the first time we set our highest sail the Raffee and we learned what it was like to maneuver with the sail set. We are becoming noticeably more knowledgeable of the Seamans rigging and handling as seen through the line chase yesterday and our collective increasingly immediate response when issued a command.  But every now and then everyone needs a little pick me up and no time better serves that purpose than snack time. Delicious snacks are prepared by Sayzie, Lolo and often an assistant steward every day in addition to regular meal times such as summer rolls and fresh fruit. Today we had beautiful cupcakes decorated with small ocean creatures’ figures which brightened us up equally if not more than the cupcakes did. But like all good things snack time is soon over, but not to worry as we now have tomorrows snack time to look forward to!

-Malcolm Sackler



S241 - Ocean Exploration


Date: 16 May 2012
Current Position: 15° 23.28’ N x 158° 51.84’ W
Course & Speed: 160 PSC, 5.3 knots
Sail Plan: Sailing under the four lowers, reefed main, fisherman and the JT.
Weather: Winds E, BF 4, few clouds, mostly sunny.
Photo Caption: Jaymes using a sextant, with Emily, Wouter and Hannah on deck.

Hello again from the Robert C. Seamans! We are continuing south towards Palmyra atoll in sunny weather and mostly clear skies. We the students are having a great time. Led by our fearless and enthusiastic captain, Pamela, we have been in good spirits and have been learning the ways of the sea. While a lot of information is thrown at us in a short period of time, we are getting into the flow of watch schedules, sail handling and ship maintenance. We have been broken up into three watches, A, B and C and rotate through shifts of 4 or 6 hours throughout the night and day. The students and deckhands rotate through helping out in the lab, gathering and recording specimens, helping out with the stewards in the galley, working with the engineers, being the lookout, handling the sails, doing boat checks, and steering on the deck. Our fellow deckhands and mates have also been very helpful and patient while we fumble around trying to find the right lines to handle. The food has been incredible, and thanks to our wonderful stewards Sayzie and Lolo, we never have to worry about going hungry. The boat constantly rocks from side to side, which is really nice as it rocks you to sleep, but it’s definitely an adjustment from walking around on a flat still surface. The handrails placed all over the ship have seen a lot of use as we try to walk in a straight line throughout the cabins.

Last night was quite exciting when we expertly dodged a squall at 3 in the morning. The squall built up quickly right in the path of our course which meant that we had to gybe around, (our stern went through the eye of the wind, so that the wind was on the other side of our sails), to get out of its way. “All hands to strike the mains’l went up and we dashed on deck to lower the mains’l and tie it down. From there we also struck the JT, a fore sail that was too high for the oncoming weather. Then turning on our motor, we motor-sailed safely out of range of the squall. When the squall had let up we again gybed and headed back on course! We were all pretty excited to see a change from the balmy calm weather we had been having.

We hope that everyone is doing well back at home and stay tuned for some more S241 adventures!

Lillian Kennedy Pearson, Student

P.S: Hi Mom, Dad, Emory, Pancho, Darline and Pablo, love you guys! Happy belated mother’s day Mom!!!



S241 - Ocean Exploration


Date: 15 May 2012
Current Position: 16 24.8 N x 158 46.7 W
Course & Speed: 150 PSC, 6 knots
Sail Plan: Sailing under a reefed main, the four lowers, and the JT.
Weather: Winds ExN, BF 4, mostly clear.
Photo Caption: Wouter makes ready the jib sheet. Photo cred: Emily B.

Hello outside world! Sunny skies and gentle seas reign in the north pacific subtropical gyre. The good ship Robert C Seamans marches her way southwards towards Palmyra atoll. I am already caught up in boat time, and the impression that weve been sailing for weeks, even though its only been a couple days. I am impressed at how well all the students and deckhands are adjusting to life at sea. Their enthusiasm and ability to boot and rally or just keep on trucking through a bout of mal de mere is what keeps the whole mood of the ship up. The easy sea breezes drawing us along allowed Captain Pamela to teach us about points of sail, and correct sail trim today during class. The deck was alive with staff and students calling back commands to sheet in or ease out as we sailed from close hauled all the way through to a broad reach. The correct trimming of a ship of any size takes finesse, but Mama Seamans especially requires it as she can fly as many as nine sails at a time. Today we had the mains’l, mainstays’l, fisherman, forstays’l, jib, jib tops’l and tops’l set all at once as we demonstrated sailing on a broad reach.  It is a beautiful sight to see the rigging full of sails, bellies taut with breeze. As we tried out different points and trims we felt the ship heel over and dig into the wind and sea, or set up and come to a dragging wander when we pinched on a close haul. Learning how to set and strike sails is more exciting, seeing the huge swaths of canvas shake out their folds and stretch into the air or crumple downwards to the deck, but trimming sets you more in tune with what the ship feels. It is hard to explain, and I’ve erased about as many sentences as Ive written trying. Ill end this before I wax on into metaphors about shoelaces, salmon, or sunscreen.

Adrienne Wilber, Deckhand

P.S. Special hello and love to Mom, Dad, and Berett.



S241 - Ocean Exploration

Date: 14 May 2012
Current Position: South of Cross Seamount, south of Oahu
Course&  Speed: Motor Sailing to Palmyra
Sail Plan: Four lowers
Weather: Very light winds
Photo Caption: S241 field trippers see buyers bid for tuna at the Honolulu fish market

The students on S241 started early on Friday with a visit to the Honolulu fish auction. Arriving early in the morning staff and students were treated to a terrific explanation of the fishing practices of the local fleet. It was an impressive display and that was just the start to their day! At 1400(2pm) they showed up and we began S241with lots of safety training, drill sand learning about their new home. Waiting for generator parts kept us on the dock until Sunday morning but the time was well spent in demonstrations of scientific sampling set-ups, and even setting the main sail at the dock.We left in light wind which allowed us some sailing but has kept the seasickness down to a very low level, at class today everybody claimed to have eaten lunch and kept it ‘aboard’. Last night we did our first net tow and did another at noon, just after a successful hydrocast with our big winch. Class put the sextants in the hands of the students and started them down the celestial path (navigation-wise anyway). We collected foraminifera from a sea mount with our shipek grab just before supper, and now we are making miles to the south. Another Neuston tow tonight brought back a wide diversity of gyre species: Portuguese Man-o-war, gelatinous organisms, open ocean insects by the genus of Halobates, juvenile fish and larvae, blue copepods, many pieces of plastic, and other organisms. Busy, busy, busy. I’m beat. The students and deckhands will take over the blog from here to report on shipboard life and the cruise.

Chuck Lea, Chief Scientist S241




S241 - Ocean Exploration

The Robert C. Seamans boards students of class S-241 (Ocean Exploration) in Honolulu, Hawaii on Friday May 11, 2012. They plan to sail south making a port stop at Palmyra Atoll. The ship will return to Honolulu, Hawaii on June 8, 2012. Blog entries coming soon.