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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems


October 18, 2018

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai - A Science Perspective (Part 1)

Rachel Scudder, Chief Scientist

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Greetings from the Robert C. Seamans in the middle of the South Pacific.

Over a number of days in the past week the students, faculty, and staff of SPICE 2018, Class S-282, have been extremely privileged to spend time on Hunga Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai (HTHH). The students have done an excellent job of summing up our time there so far, but what we have been doing here is as close to the original explorers of old as you get in the modern day, so here is everything we’ve done all in one place.


October 18, 2018

Countdown to Suva

Merlin Clark-Mahoney, Assistant Engineer

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Field Day! Today was long and productive. I work as assistant engineer, and on Thursday our regular preventative maintenance routine is to exercise fifty or so valves, and lubricate ventilation dampers. It is not generally the favorite chore. This morning it was made easier with the excellent help of Olivia, one of the sailing interns. Valve day ended up only taking all morning, which is pretty good, considering.


October 17, 2018

Back in the Swing of Things

Haley Ferrer, C Watch, University of Vermont

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What a day on the Robert C. Seamans! After many days spent altering between the states of standing by, motoring, and being hove to, today was one of the first full days of sailing that the ship has had in a while. While the time that we spent exploring Tonga and maneuvering around the brand new island has been nothing short of incredible, I have missed the sight of full sails and the feeling of being back in a steady routine.


October 16, 2018

Near-Gale Excitement

Emily Settlecowski, University of Denver

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Our second day underway to Fiji from Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai has been an exciting one weather wise. Long gone are the days of motor sailing under the stays’ls on smooth, glass-like waters. Last night on evening watch, 1900-0100, the wind was blowing force 5 and force 6 with gusts at 7.


October 15, 2018

This too shall pass

Malika Elizabeth, The Evergreen State College

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I started the morning with a lovely wakeup by Irena at 5:20a.m. I was able to be assistant steward for breakfast.


October 12, 2018

Sunset in Nuku’alofa

Glenn Billman, B-Watch, Northeastern University

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Now that we are clear of the excitement of a cruise ship booting us from the dock, we’re back to our routine. After re-docking in Nuku’alofa, we kept up our regularly scheduled programming and met with the Tongan Department of the Environment. But first, we started our day by going aloft for the first time.


October 11, 2018

To Nane and the Tongan Way

Ryan James Lavin, A-Watch, Cornell University

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O.K. we just departed the dock by the palace in under 20 minutes to make way for an emergency aboard an incoming cruise ship that needed our parking space. Captain says we done good. No makings for an Allstate mayhem commercial here, no sir.


October 10, 2018

Nuku’alofa, the island of kings

Cutter (Charles) Thompson, C Watch, University of California, Santa Cruz

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This morning we left the volcanic island of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai (HTHH) at 0530, setting our course for Nuku’alofa, Tonga. Unfortunately the winds were too weak to sail so we had to use the engine to close the 35nm gap between HTHH and Nuku’alofa. However we still had the fore’staysl and the main’staysl raised on the port tack to help us along.


October 09, 2018

A Volcanic Journey

Mariah Reinke, A Watch, Hobart & William Smith Colleges

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Greetings from Mama Seamans!

It’s not every day that you get to wake up next to a volcanic island after a wonderfully full night of sleep and prepare yourself to go on land, but that certainly was our morning.


October 08, 2018

Flowers and Bombs

Debora Ortiz, A Watch, Knox College

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After a day of anchoring near Mala island, and a day of motor-sailing around the Tongan sea, we arrived at Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai. This is the world’s newest island, formed by volcanic eruptions from within the ocean. Scientists thought that the volcanic matter was not going to stay out of the water, but it did, and that’s how the island was created!


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