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
November 02, 2016
And the Stormy Winds May Blow
310° 13’ S x 171° 56’ E
Ship’s Heading & Speed
1850, 4.4 kts.
Starboard tack under the stays’ls and the tops’l.
Rain, wind F4 NxW
It wasn’t long ago that Ben-gineer told us to savor our last few tastes of the tropical weather as we keep sailing south. Soon, he warned, the sweet relief from the sweltering heat of Suva would turn to shivers, and the constant hum of bunk fans would be replaced by the rattle of radiators and the chattering of the helmsman’s teeth. It’s still spring as far as the Kiwis are concerned, and today we got our first real feel for what that’s going to mean for us as we get closer to New Zealand.
B Watch woke up to a bit of a blustery dawn shift. Between some intermittent sprinkles we had fun playing around with a new sail (the course, the larger of our two square sails) which had the Seamans looking like a regular old pirate ship. The weather stayed fairly overcast and a little squally through the morning, but things didn’t get really exciting until we started to muster for our daily 1430 class. The word went around that we were going to be mustering in the main saloon to avoid the drizzle, but just as we had almost finished squeezing all 25 students and assorted faculty into the dining room, Captain Jay called from the dog house for hands to strike the square sails. Winds had started to gust up to forces 6 and 7, and canvas needed to come down quickly.
As you can imagine, 27ish people all trying to scramble out of one watertight door at the same time makes for a bit of a chaos. The same number of people all trying to strike a tops’l together doesn’t make for a much prettier picture. However, it was up on the foredeck in the sideways rain, with lines crisscrossing in 15 directions, people shouting from both sides of the foremast and Rocky trying valiantly to impose some sort of order on the whole scene, that I realized just how incredible what we’re doing here really is. While most of our friends were probably sitting down in their warm, dry classrooms back on their respective campuses, we were taking a mandatory study break to haul lines on the pitching deck of a brigantine somewhere in the middle of the South Pacific. After the initial stress had started to wear off as we got our lines straightened out and the sails started to come in, I caught a couple grins peeking out from the depths of foulie hoods, and a couple people laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. To go from settling down for a couple hours of class with a mug of hot chocolate to staggering across the deck while fighting in the forestays’l sheet in a matter of minutes… it made me realize just how extraordinary the experiences we’ve had over the last 8 or 9 weeks have been. There are so few people in the world who will ever know what it’s like to even feel the roll of a tall ship under their feet, let alone know what it feels like work and live on board a vessel for over a month at sea. These things that have become natural and routine for us are in actuality incredible, once-in-a-lifetime kinds of experiences. As cozy as our friends might be in their classrooms right about now, we really are amongst a privileged few.
A funny realization to come to just as we close in on the end if our cruise track. Jay told us once near the beginning of the program that what should concern us most of all during our time aboard the Seamans are the experiences that we will be sure to remember years from now. Sitting here today, facing the waning days before landfall in New Zealand, I think I have a better understanding of what he meant. Looking back at my time aboard, I can see now the moments that will live with me for the long haul. Clinging to the bow on lookout outside of Nuku’alofa, staring into the 20 foot troughs between the swells and feeling that roller-coaster gut drop as the Seamans plunged down into each one. Talking about science and surfing and movies with a watch mate on an afternoon off while dangling my feet from the top of the foremast, 100 feet above the deck. Leaning out over the headrig and watching the sun rising over the South Pacific for the 30th time in a row. The closer we get to the end of our voyage, the more and more I realize just how incredibly lucky I have been to have experienced these things. I hope to keep this in mind as we forge on for New Zealand and, as Savanna said in the last post, be present for every moment left for us aboard the Seamans.
P.S. Hey rents, tried to send you an email on the way out of Suva but it looks like it didn’t make it through. I promise I’m still alive. Hope all is quiet on the front and that Aidan’s settling into school well.