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SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans

July 24, 2015

Anchor Watch

Nathan Kemp, Knox College

Protecting the Phoenix Islands

Ship's Log

Kanton Island, Lagoon

Souls on Board

Blue is her color
Blue is the color of the woman who controls the winds,
The winds that blow fiercely, churning the midnight blue waves that crash the bow,
The bow that splits the midnight waters from the sapphire blue sky that is the canvas of the winds,
The winds that bring her tales of wonder past the twinkling stars,
The stars that shine their light on both her and me,
Me who looks out over the wide, separating expanse, thinking about the woman whose color is blue.

For those of you reading this who know me, you know I am not generally a person to start something with a poem; however, it is very easy to romanticize what we are doing on this voyage. From the wind and weather, to work under the sun, maritime tales, and the thrill of science, everything is worth doing, worth remembering.

Today especially was an experience I am sure none of us on the Robert C. Seamans will ever forget. I will try to paint the picture for you. An hour or two after noon, we began ferrying people from the ship to the village where the 25 inhabitants of Kanton live. We congregated in a low ceilinged pavilion that functions as their Protestant Church, sitting and talking and wondering what the celebration would bring. The smell of the small fire and the food mixed with tobacco and the scent of roughly 60 people who had spent their day in a hot island sun. We were greeted warmly, as warm a reception as I've ever been given, and the men who stood up to address us and thank us for coming never stopped smiling.

They began by dancing for us (I won't try to describe the outfit, look at the pictures), and then followed that up by powerful singing. They were songs that came from the whole community and reminded you what music is really for. They included us in their dancing, giving us flower circlets, shell necklaces, and encouraging us to have fun and join in. The energy was infectious. Eventually it was time for food, food that was caught, killed, and cooked in preparation to share this meal with us.

Everything I tried was delicious: there were crabs, eel, one of their own pigs they killed, different kinds of fish, coconuts, giant clams, and a few things I really had no idea about. More dancing and singing ensued after the meal; we even got together and performed the Mingulay Boat Song as a crew for the people of Kanton. There were long goodbyes, handshakes, hugs, and a final group picture before we began walking back down the road to where our boats would pick us up.

We have one more night in the lagoon before we get under way again. Being here on Kanton was an amazing experience, one that opened my eyes to a whole new way of living and interacting with the world. I hope that this blog can begin to give you an idea of what we saw, but I know that when we get back and are able to tell all of you with our own words what happened you will be blown away.

With love and excitement,

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s261  port stops  phoenix islands • (9) Comments
Previous entry: Witnessing Kanton Island    Next entry: A Birthday at Sea


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 Nancy on July 28, 2015

Nathan, Thank you for sharing this truly beautiful poem about life at sea. I loved your description of your warm and welcoming visit with the Kanton community, too.

#2. Posted by Daniel Kemp on July 28, 2015


To begin, you have to know how proud I am of you and how excited I have been for you during what I hope is one-of-many of your life adventures! You continue to inspire me with all the THINGS you experience and learn and share. I look forward to hearing about all the STUFF you have experienced during your time away. You are so wise and correct in your statement that “everything is worth doing, worth remembering.” Remember it well!

The whole family has been waiting with bated breath to see a post from you, wondering when it might arrive. As I was driving back from Grandma’s and Granddad’s yesterday, Grandma just had to call me to tell me that you had finally posted! All I can guess is that she was pretty excited. And as evening arrived and Mom came home from work, she settled into reading what you had wrote. Shortly after beginning, she commented on your “flowery” beginning. Amanda reassured Mom to continue reading (having already read it), prompting her to read it out loud, something you know Mom does so well. Mom obliged, continuing to read it out loud. Somewhere in the middle of it all, Joshua commented, “Hey, hey, we only want to hear about that during commercials.” We all busted into laughter at the family joke. But we also realized one of parts of the family was missing. We await your arrival back home with excitement and love!

Shipmates and Crew:

Please know how much Nathan’s entire family and friends have enjoyed traveling with all of you on this amazing journey. We have enjoyed reading of your daily work chores, research efforts, and personal contemplations. I speak for the entire network of Nathan’s family and friends when I say thank you for embracing him and sharing this experience with him. Thank you for being part of his life journey!


Daniel Kemp

#3. Posted by Peggy Hiemer on July 28, 2015

What a great adventure Nate. Can’t wait to hear all about it when you get back.

#4. Posted by Livia on July 28, 2015

Hey, Nate, glad to hear you’re enjoying yourself.

Can’t wait to hear all your stories when you’re back at Knox!

Remember to wear sunscreen. I mean it.

ps.: I’m sure I’ll be seeing that flower circlet for years to come even after they’ve become a wilted mess wink

#5. Posted by Sheryl Gregory on July 28, 2015

So happy for you to get to experience what most of us never will.  ENJOY.

#6. Posted by Lucy Rae on July 29, 2015

Hello Lovely,

It’s so wonderful to hear from you! I was wondering when this post would swing around. I love how you describe your experience on Kanton and I am thankful for your amazing eye to detail to give us a well rounded picture of what it was like.

My favorite part was definitely your description of music “They were songs that came from the whole community and reminded you what music is really for.” Music is so powerful! It reminds me of when we first listened to your Ipod together. That was wonderful smile

May the woman whose color is blue continue to accompany you and know that her heart on land continues to beat for you.

Lucy Rae

#7. Posted by Mary on July 29, 2015

Beautiful entry Nathan!  It spoke volumes and yes music can be eyes to our soul.

#8. Posted by Nannie on August 02, 2015

What an adventure dearest grandson! What a blessing to have this opportunity. I am very proud of you and excited beyond words for you. I know you will learn much more than science.The great beauty of God’s creations will endure in your memory forever and that little things that can bring happiness and true joy, without having a dollar value. The trip on the ship has to be an experience in itself, to see nothing but water for as far as the eye can see.

I hope you have been well and the trip back is just as exciting. All waiting to hear your stories.You and all the crew are in our prayers for a safe return.

#9. Posted by Papa on August 03, 2015

Ahoy Mate! I’m glad we are able to make the voyage with you. Did you have a ceremony when you ship crossed over the equator? Mr. Palucki shared his experience from his Navy days. I hope you are taking pics of everything your crew is experiencing.  Miss you at the family get togethers. Can’t wait for your next blog. Love You! (Papa)



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