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SSV Robert C. Seamans Blog

Position information is updated on a workday basis only.

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



S242b - Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

Date: 10 Aug 2012
Current Position: Anchored, Santa Barbara Island
Current Weather: Light wind, clear sky, warmest day of the trip.
Photo Caption:  Salps for snack!

I’m Sarah, the third mate. I stand watch with the fantastic students, scientist and deckhands of C Watch. The 10th of August started for us as the clock struck 0000, while we were on mid-watch. Mid-watch runs from 2300-0300. It was a busy (and fun) watch for all of us. The students spent the watch working to prepare for their science presentation, as well as pitching in with deck duties such as steering and lookout.

After mid-watch is what we like to call the “sleep of kings.” We do not have to be on watch until 1300 so we are able to sleep through breakfast if we want - and most of us did! At 1000 all hands gathered on the quarter deck for poster presentations by each of the watches. A, B and C watch put together well-illustrated methods, hypotheses and conclusions about the areas we have sampled on our trip. As a deck officer, I am always excited to learn from my students about the oceanography that they have been studying. While I am working with part of the watch each day to sail the Robert C. Seamans, the other half of the watch is forward in the lab doing all sorts of sampling, processing, winkling, phosphate running. and today is the day that all this hard work is presented to the ship’s company. Each student gave clear and well thought out descriptions of findings from our sampling in the Santa Monica Basin, on the shallow Tanner Bank, and in the deep California Current. The presentations were accompanied by well-illustrated posters.

In the middle of presentations the stewards, Sayzie and Lauren, came up to present us with morning snack. They were led by assistant scientist Julia, who was carrying a sample jar that seemed to be full of salps. Let me quickly describe to you what a salp is. It is a jelly-like blob that is clear and could fit in your hand. It has a purplish center to it. This creature is abundant in the California Bight and our students pulled hundreds of them from the neuston net samples. Julia handed engineer Dusty the jar and offered him one to snack on. Dusty did not hesitate, reached into the jar, and pulled one of these slippery invertebrates out. He popped it in his mouth. Students were shocked and grossed out. Staff was giggling in the background. Salps were offered around. Staff reached for them willingly. A few brave students tried one as well…

Jello! Sayzie and Lauren had prepared salp look-alikes with clear jello and a raisin in the middle. A perfect snack for science presentations. Soon everyone was trying a salp. Thanks stewards!

C watch came back on duty at 1300. The students and deckhands of C watch washed the deck, enjoying some of the warmest, sunniest weather of the trip, and then at 1430 class began. Following some presentations about the weather and navigation over the past 24 hours, the mates (myself, Ryan and Will) challenged the students to our very own Robert C. Seamans Olympic Games. Watches competed against each other to set, strike and furl 2 sails. Time and quality of work was assessed and points were awarded. Let it be said that all students joined in with fantastic teamwork and seamanship, and the end results were very close scores.

Class ended with ice cream, another unbelievable treat onboard to come out of the galley. As the off watches trickled down below for a little rest, C watch stayed on to bring the ship to anchor at Santa Barbara Island. Our anchorage is a cove that might give off the appearance of being quiet and secluded, with no houses, buildings or roads in sight on the protected island. Steep hills lead right to the water. Upon closer approach, however, the cove rings out with the barking of hauled-out sea lions. We anchor just over a 10th of a nautical mile from shore - that is quite close. Today’s watch ended on a high note for me. Pamela, our captain, gave me the responsibility of bringing the ship into the anchorage. She coached me through maneuvering the vessel into position and dropping the anchor. All went well.

As I type this we rock gently back and forth in the long swell. The sea lions over in the rookery on shore are barking still and the stars are coming out. It’s been a great day. I sit back and take a deep breath. if you were expecting to read something about taking in the cool salty air. don’t be fooled. It smells like a zoo here.



S242b - Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

Date: 09 Aug 2012
Current Weather: Force 4 West to Northwesterly, bright and mostly sunny
Photo Caption:  Fisherman and sunshine

The morning started out early with Dawn watch. It was pretty windy throughout the entire watch, but was made up for by a brilliant sunrise. We started out the watch by setting the main sail before turnover, but had an otherwise uneventful watch. We were able to spot a naval battleship in the distance. After a delicious breakfast B watch had dawn clean-up, and went to bed.

During class we presented about the weather, science, navigation, and learned about the Secchi disk. We were told a story about the crew of the Seaman’s fighting off Neptune and saving the day! The lesson for today’s class was about tacking and gybing. We were able to observe the professional crew demonstrate tacking, and practice a few times ourselves. During class we had an unexpected interruption when a pod of 50-100 dolphins swam by, giving us a show by leaping out of the water.

We spent the evening working on our group projects. Our watch is focusing of the biological piece of the data we have collected, and are presenting mostly on the biodiversity and density of the different areas. During night watch we rotated in and out of the lab to get more time to work on our presentations. We got some work done, but have lots to do in the morning before presentations at 1000. Off to bed for us! Goodnight everyone!
Mackenzie and Caleb



S242b - Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

Date: 08 Aug 2012
Current Position: 3240.082 N x 11851.182 W
Current Weather: A bit chilly, high winds and mostly clear sky. A few
clouds dot the sky, but other than those, the stars are totally visible.
Photo Caption:  Hannah on lookout

August 8th started off at three o clock in the morning for C-watch. Oliver and Nate started off in the lab today with our lab assistant Tommy. They winkled, looked at phyto slides, and prepared reports for class. All of the students (and some of the professional crew) illustrated styrofoam cups for the styrocast, where we would attach the cups onto the CTD and send them deep into the depths of the ocean, condensing them into miniature cups. A-watch relieves C-watch at 7 AM. C-watch was given cleaning duties for below deck, but because the boat was rocking roughly Ryan ordered us to only mop the heads and showers.

A-watch carried out the deployment of the styrocast today, and the cups came out pretty well-some of them were squished to beyond recognition, but by putting them in hot water, we can mold the cups to look slightly morecuplike. A-watch then processed the meter net in order to collect interesting organisms. B-watch relieved A-watch at 1300.  At 1430, the students enjoyed an amusing lesson led by Abby, who was decked in a lovely bright pink dress. In between every segment, the crew played the competitive sport of butt wrestling. In butt wrestling, two players each hold onto one line segment, then hold opposing ends around their butts. They can lean back, forward, or side to side, pulling the line around in order to try to throw the other person off balance. Whoever moves their feet first loses! After an exciting class, where we learned about bioluminescent organisms, knot tying, and becoming one with nature, we celebrated Yuitos birthday with chocolate and cherry cheese cake. It was delicious, but I think everyone had a bit too much.  B-watch winkled and ran phosphate samples, which C-watch completed after relieving them. As I write this, we are currently running chlorophyll-A readings to determine how much of the pigment is present at specific depths. Tonight is beautiful, and you can see all the constellations burning bright against the night sky. Our watch is almost over, and I am already welcoming sleep. Goodnight families!



S242b - Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

Date: 07 August 2012
Current Position: 3148.1 N x 11931.3 W
Current Weather: Cold winds with high seas and a clear sky
Photo Caption: Magic hour at the helm

The day began at dawn watch for me, an experience I had yet toexperience. While waking up at 0300 in the morning is not particularly my cup of tea, it wasnt quite as challenging as I had anticipated. After about two and a half hours of being on watch, the sun finally rose at about 5:20. Just as the sea had been plagued by the incredibly dark night, the light from the rising sun spread quickly across the waters to relieve every one. Towards the end of the watch, we happened to intercept the journey of an enormous pod of dolphins that quickly took a liking to our ship and followed along the bow for ten minutes. Feeling incredibly productive by seven when our watch ended, we carried on our duties of boat clean up by quarter of eight, and went to bed feeling as if it had been late in the afternoon.  However interesting the beginning portion of our day was, nothing can beat the fanatic memorization of all the lines for the epic pin chase. Calling for both mental stamina and an enormous amount of team spirit, all three watch teams pulled through; B watch taking the lead, followed by A and then C.  Working in the lab was a good end to the day in 0900 to 1300 watch. We were able to do filtration, labeling, and 100 counts, and tedious salp picking. Tonight I am going to go to bed and dream of zooplankton and hope the waves don’t keep me awake.



S242b - Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

Date: 06 August 2012
Current Position: 3234.9 N x 1196.2 W
Current Weather: Cold winds with slowly burning off cloud cover overhead
Photo Caption: Vincent deploying the 2MN

Today being the third day now fully underway in the choppy waters of Southern California, the crew struggled to keep their wonderful meals from becoming fish food.  We began the morning with many people demonstrating our maritime phrase of the day: boot and rally.  Crew members found themselves feeling seasick to a level they had never felt before.  The boot in our phrase of the day refers to the action of leaving your given duties to lose your meal over the side of the boat.  Because of the dedicated and hard-working crew members aboard this vessel, we have also had a great demonstration of rallying: returning to work after completing those oh so uncomfortable bodily needs. This may seem like an easy task, but after being in the position first hand, when you feel seasick, the last thing you want to do is spend more time in the rocking science lab. 

Mid watch today was especially amazing of all nights spent aboard the last few days.  As B watch ascended the steep stairs from the doghouse to the quarter deck, we were amazed to find a liberal sprinkling of stars throughout the night sky.  The display was like nothing many of us have ever seen and was difficult to keep our eyes off of.  One of the first constellations visible at night was a triangle of three stars: two of which included the planets Saturn and Mars!

Also on mid watch, Caleb and Jori were rotating bow watch of the ship and saw Pacific White-Sided Dolphins jumping under the headrig in the dark. While at first the white shadows in the water were a little scary along with the whoosh creating by the dolphins quick breathes at the surface, they soon found out that the shadows were in fact dolphins.  The connection the crew as a whole has been making with nature while aboard the Robert C. Seamans has been such a life-altering experience for everyone. We all cant wait for more fun to come!  Jori & Vincent



S242b - Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

Date: 05 August 2012
Current Position: 33deg 09.8’ N X 118deg 50.7’ W
Current Weather:  Chilly with slightly rough winds and a light cloud cover
Photo Caption: Oliver at the helm

Today was the first day with rougher, choppier water so it was a lot harder to walk around the deck and below deck.  Eating was a challenge as well because of the big tilt in the table; this made it very difficult to cut the food.  All of the crew came out for some practice tacks, they went well.  We also had our first day of class today on the, “coolest classroom around.” We learned about the weather with a great map made by Sarah, later Ryan used the same one for Navigation.  We are also learning how to winkle in our sweet hats.  I’m looking forward to another great day on the Robert C. Seamans!

Thanks!  Oliver and Sam



S242b - Oceanography of the Southern California Bight

Date: 04 August 2012
Current Position: 33deg 31.7’ N x 188deg 23.5’ W Current Weather: Slightly chilly but calm winds and starry night.
Photo Caption: Tykwan and A Watch learn aloft safety A lot of new
things to learn but still unfamiliar with several subjects.

Today was a great refresher for old skills and memories involving knot tying and nautical terms.  Challenging parts of the day were climbing aloft due to the winds at the time and the movement of the boat.  Today’s challenges also had a lot in store from the harsh and sometimes brutal rope handling when hauling sails up to be set.  After today’s
ups and downs I’m feeling tired and curious of another day of adventure tomorrow.  Sleeping on the boat was a new experience as well but that doesn’t distract from Yuito’s true focus of learning more about marine biology and oceanography while aboard the Robert C. Seamans!

Cheers!  Tykwan & Yuito