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 04, 2018
An absence of sea
38 35S x 178 35E
Course & Speed
Storm Trys’l, Main Stays’l, Fore Stays’l, and Tops’l
Winds NE force 5; scattered rain
Although I hate to be the next person to talk about a sun rise, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
The sun rose at around 0600 this morning; however, I wasn’t watching it closely. I was on the helm steering a course of 185. My eyes were glued to the compass because of the relatively tough steering conditions where I only relieved them every once in a while to catch a glimpse of the wind direction (as indicated by a flag), and the horizon to indicate the direction in which our bow was swinging. I was so committed to staying on course due to the added pressure of sailing in heavily trafficked coastal waters outside of Napier. In addition to this pressure, earlier this morning at 0100, I was at the helm steering at an unforgiving point of sail with poorly trimmed sails and rain that made it nearly impossible for the Seamans to sit nicely at the course ordered. In turn, I found it incredibly frustrating to be on the helm. I always swung too far starboard and then too far port and then ended up gybing unintentionally--which isn’t fun for anyone amidst the seemingly never-ending nausea that accompanies sea sickness. So, as I was saying before, the sun rose at around 0600 this morning, and I didn’t notice it. It wasn’t until my mate commented on how rare it was for her to see the sun sitting on the eastern ocean that I thought about how so few people had this opportunity.
So, there I was steering the Robert C Seamans in the South Pacific. The sun sat next to me on the port side of the ship and broke through the low lying cumulus and residual stratus clouds to release electric bursts of pink and orange flares—a color you only see when the sun is on the horizon. Amidst the unity of sun, ocean, and sky, the clouds appear purple and every possible shade of blue as the water absorbs ever color of the symphony. The clear skies and white clouds complement this event in a familiar kind of way too (the way you imagine a perfect ocean and the sky as a kid), so you can’t help it but feel comfortable. I know this description is excessive, but I’ve been in my head so much lately that it’s refreshing to be overly flirtatious in describing this event. For the past two weeks we haven’t set foot on land. Sea sickness never really goes away although it comes in highs and lows. It’s been cold and rainy and finding the time amongst watch, sleep, and school to think about anything else has been so scarce that my reaction to the sun rise this morningsunrisepropriate.
So I’ve said a lot here to paint where my mind has been this morning and the past few weeks at sea. Ultimately, I guess, the crux of it is that I’ve been in my own head too much. When I stepped foot on the Seamans for the first time, I had really framed this semester just as being an exploration of ocean science, however, it has more pressingly become a never ending question of what it means to be a leader—specifically asking the question: at what point does an individual known enough to take ownership? How urgent is urgent? At what can you not hold yourself accountable in such a small, dynamic environment? For whom are you responsible and for what? Why am I here?
Today is the first day we’ve seen land since Raoul, and tomorrow will be the first day we set foot on land since Russell. After looking port to see the sunrise, I saw the silhouette of the North Island of New Zealand in the distance and was surprised at how acclimated I was to such a view. I wasn’t excited to see land. I didn’t feel like I had lost something over the past two weeks even though I intensively missed land. I missed having agency over my own body’s gravity. I missed the sensation of running up a hill, sprinting on a flat surface for a really long time, and climbing up a rock face where every move feels like your last. From this point on, we won’t be in the open ocean for a long period of time again. And although I’m beyond excited for the respective sensations, I’m feeling the absence of the ocean. This idea of absence, however, is not suggesting that I made some beautiful connection with the ocean. Rather, this idea of absence is introducing everything I missed out on over the past two weeks. When the sea was rough, I longed for the stability of land and now that I’ve found that stability, I wonder what the ocean would have become if I had stopped longing for land during the times of her extremes.
- Jennifer Crandall, B Watch, Middlebury College