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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

April 06, 2014

Approach to Nuku Hiva

Alia Payne, A Watch, Macalester College


Juan lounging and laundry drying: the view from aloft during one of our days in Rangiroa.

Ship's Log

Current Position
9° 05’ 33.60” S x 141° 06’ 40.80” W

Current Location
10 miles SW of Nuku Hiva

Course & Speed
070, hove to for science

Sail Plan
Staysl’s and storm trys’l

28.1 degrees C, clear skies with scattered cumulus clouds

Today the mountainous outline of Nuku Hiva finally rose from the horizon to greet our waiting eyes. Late last night at the end of Dawn Watch, it was announced that we should officially be within a viewing distance of Nuku Hiva. Unfortunately, the island was in the direction of the rising sun, so our sight was limited until the sun was higher in the sky. But it was worth the wait!

After days of rolling swells and choppy whitecaps, any new shapes and sounds stand out brightly. We began to hear new bird calls as a diverse assortment passed by the boat, with louder clearer calls than the silent birds flying long distances in the middle of our ocean passages who often accompanied us at sea. Tonight, as we deployed the carousel, we were also treated to huge groups of glowing pyrosomes we hadn’t seen offshore. Lighting up the sea in bright flashes that appeared up to 2 feet in diameter, then fading slowly, they drifted and flashed their way by as we watched in the dark waters with the looming Nuku Hiva dark in the distance.

Unfortunately though, or perhaps fortunately for character building, the reality of life at sea isn’t always land masses rising majestically out of the distance and glowing creatures pulsing by in midnight waters. I have spent 99.9% of my time here caked in salt and stumbling around running into things, and a lot of it on my hands and knees scrubbing one surface or another as we clean and reclean the Robert C. Seamans every day. The experience isn’t always glamorous, as I have discussed with my shipmates in our rare moments of pause in the day when we are awake and not trying to clean ourselves or our things. There is so much protocol for everything that we must remember, and now that we are moving into Phase Two, where the students are ‘Shadows’ and take turns leading watches, the pressure feels even higher than before. The fo’c’s’le (where I sleep) moves about a thousand feet up and down in the night, and sounds like boulders are being thrown against the bulkhead each time we crash down again. And yet, somehow this crazy boat of crazy people is a beautiful place and has taught me a lot about how to be a community already. The saying “we’re all in the same boat” means so much more than I ever knew, as we all struggle to keep her moving in the right direction, as we all struggle to keep her clean, as we all struggle to take care of one another and ourselves. It has been, and will continue to be, a tough journey physically and mentally, but also an excellent one with all the appropriate shooting of stars and viewing of sea creatures and climbing of rigging and bonding with watchmates.

Mama, Papa, Dylan, Emma, Alex, friends, family, (everyone else’s mom and dad reading this), universe: I miss you all and really can’t wait to one day be still enough in my life to sit down and have a long slow meal together and take lots of naps and be more than transient in our time together. Until then, bon voyage wherever you may be and lots of love from one sleepy chica in the middle of the Pacific.

- Alia

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Oceans & Climate, • Topics: s252  science • (0) Comments
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