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
February 16, 2015
Bay of Islands Welcomes Us
Anchored in Russell Harbor
Hello from our anchorage at the Bay of Islands town of Russell, a former Pacific whaling hub once known as the "Hellhole of the Pacific"! Thankfully for us it looks a lot more like paradise, with turquoise water glittering in every direction and rolling volcanic islands we've come to know and love at every point of the compass.
We woke this morning at our anchorage in a cove just outside of the Bay of Islands, a lovely place to sleep after the previous night of adjusting to the roll of Mama Seamans beneath our bunks. We weighed anchor just after breakfast and got underway, hauling up our jib tops'l, forestays'l, mains'l and course to catch the light breeze blowing us towards our final destination in Russell. It was a busy day on deck for B and A watches, moving sails about to catch the ideal angle of the wind, heaving to in order to collect oceanographic data on our CTD carousel, conducting observations of local land use and flora and fauna, and ensuring the overall smooth running of the ship over our jaunt to the northernmost stop on our trip.
Today was also a big day for reviewing all we have learned at sea so far. The morning found many students walking the deck with diagrams clutched in hand as we worked to memorize the names and functions of the nearly 70 different lines that make our ship tick (and tack). Remarkably, today marks the one-week anniversary of our arrival to the Robert C. Seamans. It seems incredible that it's only been seven days since we were first introduced to our new home. The days are long here-and not just because the sun rises early and sets late here in the heart of the Austral summer, or because we're often awake in the wee hours of the morning (though that certainly helps). Above all, what has so stretched the days has been how busy we are, and how many distinct things there are to learn each day. A week ago, most of our student crew would have been dumbfounded if asked to tell the difference between a clewl'n and a sheet, or told to raise or strike a sail. Though there is still much to learn, it is extraordinary to consider how much we have progressed since our feet first touched teak.
We sailed into the Bay of Islands shortly after lunch and were soon greeted by a pod of dolphins playing off of our port side, which Helen later identified as common dolphins. It soon seemed that all of the bay of Russell was excited to greet us, and as we settled into our anchorage nearly every passing ship veered off course to take a gander at the handsome RCS and give
us a wave. During our afternoon class, a passing sailor even shouted across the water a jolly "Welcome to New Zealand!"
The warm Russell welcome "kia ora" was further extended by nine special guests that we welcomed aboard the ship for dinner: Matua Wiremu Williams, the Master Maori Navigator; Kate Martin, Manager of Curatorial and Education Programmes at the Waitangi National Trust (WNT); Mori Rapana, Manager of Visitor Experiences at the WNT and his partner, Rohario; Jane Hindle, Chief Executive of the R. Tucker Thompson Sail Training Trust and her husband Geoff; Helen Ough-Dealy of the Department of Conservation and Project Island Song, and Lindsay Alexander, author of "Whaling Ships in the Bay of Islands." After another of Lauren's incredible dinners, we adjourned to the quarter deck to get to know our visitors and officially receive them aboard our floating home. Following with Maori tradition we greeted our visitors with a song, the rousing sea shanty "Cape Cod Girls," to which they responded with a song in te reo Maori, the language of the Maori people. Brief introductions of each fascinating visitor only made us more excited to learn more tomorrow about the history-rich town of Russell. In particular,
it seems that all of us are eager to visit Waitangi and the grounds where the historic Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, creating the nation we see today. From the hints that our visitors gave today, it seems that there is an extraordinarily special greeting waiting for us there!
As it will soon be the 17th of February on the other side of the world, I want to give a Pacific birthday shoutout to my roommate of three years and the Nutella to my raspberry jam, Miss Megan Kasetty. Miss you like crazy "Negan," and hope you have a birthday as wonderful as a baby giraffe. Greetings and love as well to mom, dad, Brenna, and all the family and friends at home following our spectacular journey!