Current position of the SSV Robert C. Seamans. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).
SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans
December 06, 2015
A Tribute to Travis
35°00 X 173 °44.4
Anchored in Whangaroa (aka Jurassic Park Marine edition)
Post Beautiful Sunset, clear skies with a light breeze from the WSW
In the last few years of my life, and especially my first two years in college, the idea of empowerment instrumentally formed my actions and decisions. On your average college campus, students grope at the idea of empowerment by staying those extra hours in the library, excelling athletically, securing an above average GPA, and starring in the musical. In other words, empowerment from the millennial perspective seems to be packaged underneath wrapping paper of steel, reserved only for the “perfect” few.
I have tried ceaselessly to be empowered. I did the extra curriculars, I busted my butt in the summer time, I sought out the internships, and still empowerment remained foreign and distant. Try as I might, and as my peers might, we all fail to feel the wave of relief and comfort of empowerment, and I think SEA and Travis Ramos have taught me why.
On the ship you would have to go far out of your way not to be empowered. After hauling in a line with four other people clenching their jaws and yelling around you, after furling a sail on the head rig with the help of your two friends as the waves lift and pull you like a yo-yo through the air, after doing the dishes for your watch, after going down in the engine room when your companions are too sick to fathom it—all of these things likely invite empowerment’s visceral lift. Here, no one harbors the mentality that “I am going to get the A over him” or “if I just take the SAT one more time I will improve my own chances at an Ivy” or “If I beat out this person to be the first chair in orchestra, then my resume will really glisten.” Here, like a tattoo blazoned across the forefront of our consciousness, is the ship mantra: Ship, Shipmates, Self.
As millenials, we have been doing it wrong. We have been so tied up in self-improvement and competition that we sometimes forget to lend a hand to pick someone else up not just to our own level but beyond. Aboard the Seamans we derive empowerment not from our own improvement but from the improvement of the moods, efforts, and wellbeing of those around us.
During a late night B watch rotation this past week, we woke up to find the boat lurching endlessly in no particular direction. The movement alone redirected our every step, and tasks like counting 100 zooplankton under a microscope in the dry lab sent most of us straight to the rail, expelling whatever we still had from dinner… except me that is. As usual I sat guiltily in the lab looking out at Travis and Hayley, both with their heads down on the desk, trying my best to assist them without blatantly broadcasting how perfectly fine I felt as they hunched in misery. I didn’t feel like a hero, nor do I now, I just felt like I needed to do the work when they couldn’t and vice versa. (Maya Norman has coined this phenomenon “passing the baton”). So that tumultuous night I danced around the lab trying not to make their pain worse and doing what I could to expedite our work as a whole.
Some time after this night we gathered in a watch meeting, shared our highs and lows of the last leg of sailing as we usually do, and as a last activity Sara Martin, who is currently the mate of our watch, introduced a sort of exercise. She pulled out a little black bag and told us that if there was someone who we wanted to give a little thank you to or special shout out too, this is the chance. They could reach into this special bag, grab a bead and pass it over to their lucky recipient.
Travis, a fellow B watcher, I always saw as an enigma. Out of all of us here on the Seamans, he consistently offered the most dedication when it came to his assignments. He had the most creativity and generosity when it came to feeding us all. And of course the most humble demeanor for a guy who worked on a boat for the entire shore component in addition to SEA classes and homework, built a beautiful stand up paddleboard with his Dad, and plays hackey sack like a pro. Not to mention he demonstrated time-after-time an unparalleled determination to step up and help us all, even when experiencing persistent seasickness. In fact, at one point I was at the rail feeling less than chipper and I asked him if he could grab my water bottle from the galley and off he went. The moment he left Emma informed me that after having hit his head several times in the engine room and consequentially feeling very nauseated, he too needed time at the rail. But of course he set out for my water bottle without hesitation.
I came into Sara’s exercise with all of this in tow and as Travis reached into the bag of beads and called me out for stepping in for him in lab that night, I realized the extent to which all of my previous attempts at empowerment were flawed. To be empowered you don’t need to help yourself, to be empowered you have to work as a team and as a boat. To be empowered you have to have someone as amazing as Travis to hand you an object in thanks for what you have done for him.
Travis has returned home for health reasons and while S-263 will not be the same I also will not be the same because of Travis. He gave me the greatest epiphany of my adventure so far and I hope he knows we miss him so much already.
Much love to all family and friends