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
July 21, 2017
An Eventful Day
Kanton Pier, Kanton Island (Phoenix Islands Protected Area)
Remain docked at Kanton
Rainy, with 20kt east wind
Today marks our second day docked at Kanton, and it has been an eventful one. The morning started off for my watch, B Watch, tending to the Robert C. Seamans as we were tasked with helping reposition the fenders, which protect our ship from crashing into the dock. After completing this task, we then helped to prepare the gift our crew was to give the people of Kanton during tonight's potluck dinner. We passed about 700 pounds of rice, sugar, flour, and chocolate up from food stores and on to the quarterdeck where we stowed it all in a blue tarp. From there, we completed other tasks and had lunch before starting our activity for the afternoon.
Today was the opportunity for my watch to get to explore Kanton again, and we were very excited. As we walked the road, we encountered the first I-Kiribati (people of Kiribati) that we had seen since arriving on the atoll. Kids and older women traveled the road with carts and bikes heading in the opposite direction. We exchanged greetings in the only word in their language we knew, "mauri", meaning hello. Our very own I-Kiribati observer and student crew member, Kareati, talked and translated for us. As we traveled, one kid began to follow us intently. His name was Natii (pronounced Nas-C). He biked ahead of us talking to Kareati with the voice of a trickster.
The final event for this evening was to have a potluck dinner with the twenty nine residents of Kanton. We first began by bringing the supplies we had previously prepared to land as we fire-lined bags of rice, flour, and sugar. Eventually the residents arrived where we then placed our food on small tables where they had also brought their locally caught food. We had prepared various pastas, some beef, and cookies, which was modest compared to what they brought. On the table were some of the largest lobsters and crabs I've ever seen along with coconut, pumpkin, and chicken. The whole crew was ready to dig in as they invited us to get food first. I can safely say that I sampled everything they brought and thoroughly enjoyed it. Next, after exchanging a few words, we presented the song of which we had prepared previously to the people of Kanton. We decided to do the famous song "Lean On Me" which we had previously practiced very well, but of course screwed up a bit when it came time to actually perform it. I'm pretty sure nothing I have ever practiced to perform in front of an audience has ever gone to plan before.
In exchange for our song, they gave us some performances. They began by presenting us with some of the five youngest kids, no older than age seven, on the island who did a dance to some recorded music they had on speakers. It was adorable as they were dressed in grass skirts, and I think three of them forgot everything they were supposed to do. Next, they had several of the older kids dance for us also wearing grass skirts. However, this time the parents provided the music as they sung I-Kiribati songs to us in beautiful harmony. The kids seemed more practiced this time and the crew was very impressed. What happened next, I can say that I did not see coming. The kids introduced themselves to us in an accented English, but they overall were very clear and comprehensible, especially the older kids. They all followed the same format: "Good evening, my name is blank, I am blank years old, I have blank brothers and sisters, my father's name is blank, and my mother's name is blank". It was like when you had to do performances in middle school for Spanish or French class.
Next, they performed for us a little musical skit. They actually themed it a bit for us as Natii played a sailor who came back from sea to profess his love for a woman who was played by a seven year old girl. As you can imagine, it was the cutest thing I have seen in weeks. It involved Natii asking the girl if she'd marry him if he gave her various things, to which she always replied no until he offered her the key to his heart. Then, surprisingly, Natii sang how she only loved him for his money, and we all cracked up.
Overall, today was a very eventful day, which I can proclaim that I will always remember. I'd like to let my parents know to stop worrying about me. I'm doing fine!!! I also miss them, and I can't wait to see them when I get back.