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SEA Currents Blog

August 09, 2014

Approach to American Samoa

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.

August 08, 2014

Motorsailing by the Full Moon

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.

August 07, 2014

A Tweedle

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.

August 06, 2014

Leaving PIPA

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.

August 05, 2014

Colonization of PIPA

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.

August 04, 2014

Of Sharks, Whales and Squalls.

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.

August 02, 2014

Journey’s End

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.

August 01, 2014

A Painted Ship Upon a Painted Ocean

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.

July 30, 2014

Finding Winslow Reef

Jan Witting, Chief Scientist


07:50  We’ve been sailing in a large circle overnight, waiting for the daylight to begin our approach to Winslow Reef.  The reason for this wait is that Winslow is one of those rare unmapped places of our planet, and so we have no good charts to rely on in the absence of daylight.  To fix this situation a big part of todays mission is to use our onboard CHIRP sonar system to produce some accurate soundings of this large series of subsea peaks that may or may not pierce the surface of the sea.  With the sun sufficiently high in the sky and the CHIRP pinging away we begin our first survey line toward a seamount some 8 nautical miles from what we think is the shallowest point of the reef.

July 30, 2014

Dolphin Serenade

Buckley Willis, Rhodes College


Hello and Welcome back!
You happen to be joining us here on our last night out at sea. And what a night it has shaped up to be! There is a clear horizon unlike any we’’ve seen thus far, which means that a “green flash” at sunset is highly likely. This is one of nature’s most mysterious and awe-inspiring moments and we have all been counting down the seconds until the wondrous emerald green explosion shoots across the sky like the spidery fingers of a roman candle.

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