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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
November 29, 2017
The Voyages of the SSV Robert C. Seamans
30°40.8’ S x 178°14.5’ W
Course & Speed
160° True at 3.5 knots
Sailing under the four lowers (and the fisherman!)
A sunny, beautiful Kermadecs day
Souls on Board
Hello dear reader,
I wanted to take a moment as we transit south towards Napier, NZ and all of the fresh fruit, chocolates, and laundry our seagoing heart’s desire to discuss where we’ve been. In short, these are the (much abridged) voyages of the Robert C. Seamans and our encounter with the Raoulian peoples of Raoul Island in the Kermadecs Island chain.
First, some context. Raoul Island is the largest island in the Kermadecs island chain and is actually the crater of a dormant volcano, as are all of the other islands and rocks (mostly rocks) that make up the Kermadecs. The Kermadecs were used as a supply stop and navigational landmark by early Polynesians all the way up through whaling ships, but no permanent settlement was ever established on Raoul or any other island. The current inhabitants of Raoul Island include 5 women and 3 men who comprise the staff of the science mission of the New Zealand Department of Conservation on the island. The Kermadecs are a marine reserve and it is the job of the scientists on Raoul Island to catalog and protect the precious flora and fauna that make up the island. Additionally, they deploy weather balloons and maintain a weather station on the Island linked directly back to Auckland.
Speaking via VHF radio with the designated representatives of the Raoulians, a scientist by the name of Neil, we learned quite a bit about life on the island. The scientists work five days a week supporting the conservation mission to protect and support a healthy ecosystem of native New Zealand flora and fauna on the island, maintain an solar power plant and garden, and operate the weather station for the government. In their free time, Neil and the Raoulians like to surf in the local breaks, snorkel in the marine reserve environment, and explore the island on foot. As enterprising young scientists, our natural next question was how we can get the opportunity to live and work on Raoul. According to Neil, one must ‘pretty much be a legend.’ With this crucial prerequisite completed, you need to submit an application to the Department of Conservation, go through a three month training, and arrive on the resupply ship (every six months) for the next rotation of science on the island.
Needless to say, the Department of Conservation will soon be flooded with applications from a bunch of kids with sailing experience. As we turned around and waved goodbye, we asked Neil how long it had been since they’d seen a ship pass by. He radioed back that it had been two and a half months since they’d last seen a ship. With that, we began cruising back down towards the mainland, leaving the residents of Raoul Island to the endeavors of science and snorkeling they hold so dear.
These have been the (much abridged) voyages of the Robert C. Seamans. To boldly go where no ship has gone for 2 and a half months.