SEA Currents: Oceans & Climate
The past three nights or so we have been blessed with clear skies and the new moon, which, coupled with our remote location in the South Pacific, means that we have had unrestricted access to the night sky above. With such a clear view of the stars overhead, we have begun taking celestial sights - i.e. using sextants to measure the angle of celestial bodies in the sky relative to the horizon - in order to plot our geographical position on a map
Having a lookout on the bow is one responsibility of the watch on deck. While on watch, we need to be aware of any potential ships or submerged objects that might be obstacles in our path, so we have to keep a vigilant lookout at all times.
Today was Field Day, a day where we clean the whole ship in two hours, which sounds like daunting task. But, it’s my favorite day of the week. In those two hours we get to listen to music from our phones, which results in singing and dancing all around! Other days the only way to listen to music is to make it - people sing and play guitars, ukuleles and banjos.
The past four days have been spent mostly hove-to, waiting for inclement weather to pass us to our east. Squalls have poured rain down on us, and rolling waves have turned our home into an obstacle course, but the weather we saw last night surpassed what any of my fellow students and I had anticipated.
If you walk around below deck right now, everywhere you look you will see small groups of us bent over computers, either working busily on our first research assignment (revising the introduction and methods for our oceanography manuscript) or plotting sun lines for celestial navigation whenever we are lucky enough to see the sun.
The seas continue their unceasing motion, and the crew aboard the Seamans continues to work through their day to day operations, no matter how comically difficult they’ve become. My once short walk to brush my teeth each morning and evening has turned into the realest game of pinball I have ever played, which brings out a variety of responses spanning from uncontrollable laughter to excessive use of profanity after getting my hand caught in the door.
As we float east of New Zealand waiting out the passing weather, life aboard the Seamans continues to rock and roll - in more ways than one. The continuous movement of our ship has made even mundane tasks exciting. We walk at 35 degree angles and bounce from one handrail to the next, doing our best to stay vertical.
The winds and seas have picked up here on the north flank of the Chatham Rise, and things inside our little world have gotten a bit more… mobile. Pots clink and clank in the galley, the gimbaled tables in the main salon swing dramatically, and personal items have begun to fall from seemingly well-stowed bunks.
To be in a place, to walk around, to touch the rocks and grass; to look at the cliffs, and smell the dirt; this is but part of what being in a place is. The people of a place are what make it; they set the scene, if you will. To be in a place and not meet its people is to get only a part of the story. To visit and only look is to be a tourist; to receive and give conversation is to be good company.
One interesting factoid about the Chatham Islands is that because they are so close to the International Date Line, they are technically the first part of land to see the sunrise each morning! So today our crew was some of the first people to greet the morning rays, though most of our days started much earlier than that.