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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

July 18, 2019

Arrival in Kanton

Mary Zarba, B Watch, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry


Ship's Log

Current position
2° 48.408 ‘S x 171° 42.851 ‘W
Kanton, PIPA

Souls on board

It is 1930 (7:30 am) on a Friday night, and I am hanging out on the bow of the Robert C. Seamans. I have come to know this specific location on the boat as the “bow watch spot.” One member of the crew has stood here, tethered to the stay, all the way forward where the sides of the boat come to a point, for every hour that we’ve been underway. In this spot, I have been welcomed by a beautiful pastel sunrise, thrown around by a violent squall, greeted by a pod of pilot whales, and treated to a sky full of more stars than I knew existed. Hila, the B watch officer, has instructed my shipmates and me to always stand for the full hour whenever on bow watch. However, right now I am seated in this spot, the reason being that for the first time in 13 days, we have reached land! The boat now lies very still with the sails furled and dock lines tethering it to the remote atoll of Canton.

Around 1400 (2:00 pm) this afternoon, the Seamans sailed into a narrow passageway leading us out of the open ocean and into the middle of Kanton’s lagoon. The crew worked together in the sweltering heat to secure the boat alongside. Some of our tasks included tying the boat up, setting up the gangway, putting up mosquito nets, and inflating the small boats. Once the boat was secured, I was able to report back to my assigned job for today as assistant steward! Lauren (Cookie), our amazing steward, and I whipped up homemade hummus and cheese spread with veggies and crackers as an appetizer, and later prepared tuna tetrazzini as the main course.  As the sun was going down, I received my first taste of Kanton during a quick stroll through the island. Looking down into the small space between the boat and the bulkhead, I saw multiple schools of vibrant blue and yellow fish darting around elaborate corals through the crystal clear water. As I continued down the one sandy pathway I could find on the island, hundreds of vibrant red hermit crabs ducked into their shells while local children ran out of their homes to greet us with big smiles. Just from briefly observing the surface of Kanton, I could see that it was teeming with life. I can’t even begin to imagine what the landscape will look like below the surface in PIPA’s “Underwater Eden”.

Currently, everyone on the ship is hanging out on deck before going to sleep. I can hear “Hey Jude” being strummed on a ukulele with a chorus of people singing along coming from the quarterdeck. Behind me, I can make out the dark outlines of a few people sprawled out on the head rig who are tracing constellations through the sky. In front of me a full, orange moon is rising above the calm water of the lagoon. Everyone will be heading to their bunks shortly in order to get sufficient rest before numerous coral reef snorkeling excursions begin in the morning. Tomorrow, our exploration of PIPA officially begins. 

- Mary Zarba, B Watch, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Mom - I love you and can’t thank you enough. Tell Peter not to worry, I’ve been wearing my swimmies the whole time. Also make sure my friends aren’t having too much fun without me smile  xoxo

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: pipa  s287  kiribati  study abroad • (8) Comments


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 Stephen Rader on July 20, 2019

I can’t tell you how much I have been enjoying reading about all of your adventures. Sometimes, as a parent, it feels difficult to find out about the things our offspring are doing, so it is wonderful to have 30+ of you helping to tell the story. I would love to hear what else is on the song list along with Hey Jude.

Cole, we love you and miss you, and all of your friends send their love too. It was great to finally see you in a photo today. We were beginning to wonder whether they left you in Pago Pago. Wishing you and your shipmates fine weather and fair winds as you explore one of the world’s last great reefs!

Stephen/Cole’s Papa

#2. Posted by Trish Patetta on July 20, 2019

Hi everyone! It was great seeing your pictures and reading your post today! Mary, I loved how you described what you saw as you got off the boat! Enjoy the company of your new island friends! Thanks for taking us with you on your adventures and keeping us posted! I can’t wait to read more and see how someone describes PIPA’s Underwater Eden!

Trish & Mike
(Natalie…..Cooper says “woof”!)

#3. Posted by Thuan Le on July 20, 2019

Hey Ben . We all miss you so much.You are so dark that I could not recognize you among all those people. Keep your good spirit and enjoy yourself in the open. Love

#4. Posted by Adrienne Simoni on July 20, 2019

Hi Michelle, 
    Looks like all of you have been having great weather!  Love the picture of the group.  Miss you and love you.  See you soon.
Love mom

#5. Posted by Tanya Swann on July 21, 2019

Happy to see smiling faces (especially the girl front and center with braids)and hear about the sites and sounds of the boat. Team Swann is living vicariously through you adventures.

#6. Posted by Liz Barnet on July 21, 2019

It is heartwarming and inspiring to read these accounts and see photos of your journey. Thanks to all for your entries. Big hugs to Silas. Take care of any bug bites early on. It’s wonderful to hear accounts of the vast sky and seas. I keep thinking of Boris and Amos. Glad there is music too, and that you’ll meet people of the islands. Much love, Silas’s mom, Liz.

#7. Posted by Jacqueline Rosenbrand on July 21, 2019

Hello Students and Crew of S-287,
We look forward to each and every entry that is so thoughtfully written. Each of you have created such a detailed picture of your surroundings, responsibilities, accomplishments and emotions regarding life aboard the Robert C. Seamans. Your adventures are incredible! It is also so heartwarming to see the latest photo of the group-your smiles say it all! Thank you so very very much!!
Jackie/Conner’s mom

Conner-we love and miss you! All is well with our family, dog and cats. Everyone in town asks about you and your shipmates adventure. They are excited for you all. Your friends and their parents send their love! Your SF Giants are on fire with 9 wins out of the past 11 games. One game out of 2nd place!
Savor this once in a lifetime adventure and know that you are loved and missed! XOXO Mom, Dad, Lexi & Cole

#8. Posted by Jim Simoni on July 23, 2019

Hello Michelle,
Glad to see your face. You look like a true salty swaggering sailor leaning up against the rail. You are a true shellback now. All my love



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