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SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans

July 25, 2015

A Birthday at Sea

Julia Chavarry, Johns Hopkins University

Protecting the Phoenix Islands

Ship's Log

3° 0’ S x 171° 37’ W

Winds less than 5 knots from E-SE, Sunny skies

Sail Plan
Motor sailing on course 170° True

Souls on Board

There's something to be said about celebrating your birthday on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It will probably serve as one of my most memorable, especially because it included chocolate cupcakes with fish-shaped sprinkles.

Today as I turn 20 I realize that I've experienced incredible things on this voyage. Just to mark a few:

  • The transition from a pollywag to a shellback (and an Equator haircut to mark this auspicious occasion)
  • Witnessing a giant burgundy eel slither under me as I snorkeled among the Kanton coral reefs
  • Being greeted by a host of Boobies as I stood as lookout while we approached the island of Enderbury
  • Having the company of Pete, a noddie, while his feathers dried during a nighttime squall
  • Exploring an abandoned warehouse and airplane runway on Kanton

Just the day before the I-Kiribati gave us some of the best gifts anyone could have asked for. While performing their native songs they came around to each of us personally and crowned us with flowers that were handpicked and woven together that morning. A woman I recognized approached me with joyful eyes and placed a second shell necklace around my neck, perhaps the one I had helped make with them the day before. Each necklace is composed of over 50 shells, and each shell is chosen to be similar in size, shape, and color, before it is meticulously drilled a hole with a nail and a rock and then threaded to create a star pendent. I can't fathom the amount of time it must have taken them to collect enough shells to put together the jewelry for over 30 of us.

This morning we said goodbye to the island. As I woke from my slumber on a furled sail on top of the lab (it's much comfier than you would imagine) I ate breakfast and then watched the land sink into the horizon. Although the group seemed a little melancholy to be leaving so soon, there is science to be done and many more places to see, and so we must sail on. The hope is that tonight we will arrive at Bernie. While it is uninhabited, it will serve as a great location to collect fisheries data, and for that I'm very excited. In closing, I'd like to share one of my favorite stories a member of the village of Canton shared with me. It is the story of the coconut:

Once upon a time there was a man who loved a woman very dearly. Unfortunately, she did not share his sentiments. When he passed away he became a coconut tree. The woman unknowingly came up to the tree and plucked a coconut. She opened it and drank the sweet coconut water, and the man rejoiced! For if you look at a coconut, you will see the two eyes and the mouth of the man; the man had finally been granted his wish and was able to kiss the woman.

- Julia

P.S. A big hello to all my friends and family! I hope everyone's having a great summer!!
P.P.S Mom- I saw a sharky shark ?

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s261 • (4) Comments
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Leave a public comment for students and crew to read when they reach their next port and have access to the internet!

#1. Posted by Cioci Dori & Family on July 27, 2015

Awesome blog and pics can’t wait to see all the pictures when you get back. We’re all so jealous you get to swim with those exotic fishes. .. Enjoy the rest of your trip. Remember lots of pictures.



#2. Posted by Bonnie Quinn on July 27, 2015

I am thoroughly enjoying all of the stories and pictures of everyone exploring the world around them.  It looked like you all had an amazing time with the natives.  Happy sailing!  I look forward to the next exciting entry.

#3. Posted by Gerrie Rodriguez on July 28, 2015

Happy Birthday Cuz!!!  Can’t wait to see all the pictures and hear about all the amazing stuff you’re doing ......enjoy every minute smile

#4. Posted by Mary on July 29, 2015

Happy Birthday!  What an amazing 20th for you!  Someone near and dear to my heart will be celebrating on the 11th on ship.  Cheers and safe sailing to your next destination. 





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