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Sea Education Association | SEA Currents

SEA Currents: Aug 2014

Jan Witting, Chief Scientist

We made landfall with the first light this morning, the tall green peaks of Tutuila emerging from the early morning light.  After the flat coral atolls of PIPA, this lush verdant island cuts a very different figure.  So do all the houses, cars, the many sizes of fishing vessels in the harbor, and the loud yellow McDonalds on the town waterfront.  Ahead of us here are final project presentations and goodbyes, the crew of this amazing voyage will disembark on Monday morning.

Mary Engels, 2nd scientist

It is nine o’clock in the morning and we are just making our approach toward the green and verdant hills of American Samoa.  How strange it is to see such vibrant colors after days and days of blue.  It consistently amazes me how tenacious life can be.  Any little rock or bit of sand that sticks above the surface of the ocean will be covered in green living things so long as it receives sufficient fresh water. 

Like so many other things in the oceans, islands are bridges between the freshwater realm of the atmosphere and the salt water below.

Chrissy Dykeman, A Watch Scientist and Bad Joke Enthusiast

Well here we are motor sailing along on a port tack as the full moon is off our port beam and we are making our final days’ approach to American Samoa. It’s been a full 5 ½ weeks of sailing and there has been much accomplished on this voyage thus far, and still much more to come even in these last few days!

Today we did one of my favorite deployments to conclude our sampling schedule on S254: the styrocast.



Peter Willauer, C Watch, Colby College

The Junior Watch Officer, or JWO, stage of the trip is now in full force. Each student must take the ‘con’ and apply everything we’‘ve learned throughout the trip to run the ship for a full watch. As this stage is extremely effective in realizing what were capable of, it also serves as a reminder that our epic exploration of PIPA is nearing its end. As our first full day outside PIPA concludes, and we make way for American Samoa, I can’’t help but look back on the amazing environment we had the opportunity to explore.



Laura Page, C Watch, Deckhand

Hello world this is Laura Page, the C watch deckhand here to write your blog post for the day.  Our biggest news of the day has to be the leaving of the Pheonix Island Protected Area waters.  After 3 straight weeks of sailing and sampling here it is hard to believe we are in truly open ocean with only a week left of program.  Our goal for this trip was to explore and discover unexposed aspects of these Kiribati islands. 

I waited until now to write a post so that I could share with you a truly unique experience I have witnessed while sailing with class S-254.

Keitapu Maamaatuaihutapu, Visiting Scientist, Professor of Oceanography University of French Polynesia Tahiti

We have been in the Phoenix Island Protected Area (PIPA), for almost three weeks now and will be leaving it sometime tomorrow.  We navigated in PIPA and visited more than half of the islands (Kanton, Enderbury, Orona, Birnie and Nikumaroro) and the Winslow reef. People of the Seamans had the chance to go ashore on some of them.  Coming from a Pacific island, I find it interesting to see how these remote islands bear the marks of human activity - mostly of European and American origin.

Sneha Vissa, C-Watch, Denison University

It has been about 5 weeks and over 2500 nautical miles since Hawaii. Nikumaroro is now astern of us, about 1.5 miles away as we slowly, but surely leave her behind.

I’ll never forget Nikumaroro. I had one day on the island, and it couldn’t have been a more remarkable day. Just being there knowing that there’s no one else but you and the island in all of her glory (excluding the thriving rat population of course) is a truly wonderful state of being. If you ever get a chance to sail to Nikumaroro, do it. But today’s story has nothing to do with Nikumororo even though many tales circle around our three days spent there.

Doug Licitra, Saint Joe's University

Hey all,
Doug here. Wow. What an amazing trip. Although I’ll hold back my sentimental rant, it is tough to not feel nostalgic as I think back on the times we’ve had over the past month. We met as strangers in Cork, Ireland (many of us never having set foot on a tall ship or any kind of sailing vessel before), and ended up 2,000 miles away in Cadiz, Spain as a cohesive sailing family.

Jimmy O’Hare, Chief Engineer

Winslow reef has come and gone and what an amazing place it was.  Using CHIRP we found a steep rise starting at about 3000m and shooting up to 40m. We then found a plateau of about 50 feet and snooped around until we found a nice sandy patch to anchor in.  The winds were calm and there was a gently rolling swell. 

Once the anchor was down and the sun was set did it sink in what we had accomplished.