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SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans
Bloggin’ on the noggin
Wellington, at the dock
Ship’s Heading & Speed
None, none, we’re at port
cold, windy (unpleasant)
It's day three of our port stop. We've been docked in Wellington for what feels like a long time now, and have grown accustomed to people coming by and photographing us doing daily tasks, like eating and washing the deck.
But as exciting as the citizens of Wellington find the Robert C. Seamans, us land-starved shipfolk have abandoned our admittedly very handsome ship for the restaurants and shops of Wellington. Not all day is spent hunting thrift shops for the perfect Kiwi shirt to bring back to the states though (although Claudia has found some gems). Port stops are always an opportunity for im-port-ant field trips.
Today started with a trip to Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand's national museum. We were treated to a tour of the massive museum by Dr. Conal McCarthy, who spent a few minutes explaining the symbolism of the architecture to us before we entered. McCarthy has been an influential man at Te Papa, having written a book on the museum, as well as other academic works that we had read for our Maritime History and Culture class back in Woods Hole. He showed us around the museum, receiving warm greetings from the staff as he showed us around. We were treated to some guided highlights, such as the preserved colossal squid on the natural history floor. We then ascended to the cultural history section on the fourth floor. McCarthy spent some time pointing out particular Maori items in the museum and giving us background. Here, a different Maori tribe helps create a new exhibit every two years, highlighting their own experience from their view rather than solely via a European anthropological perspective. We then were treaty-d to a conversation about how the Treaty of Waitangi has changed in the culture of New Zealand, which we had learned a lot about in Woods Hole and at the treaty grounds in the Bay of Islands. However, as a crucial founding document for New Zealand, discussion has not stopped around it, not even for us students. After seeing some more exhibits, McCarthy let us loose into the museum to explore by ourselves, and we scattered.
I spent the next two hours before our next activity wandering about the museum aimlessly, soaking in the deluge of information about New Zealand and the cacophony of interactive exhibits, running into shipmates every few minutes - which is a surprisingly common occurrence. Previous port stops such as Opua had come with the fun feature of being so incredibly tiny that even if someone had intended to get some alone time, they couldn't go more than ten minutes before essentially tripping over the person from the ship.
Despite Wellington's comparatively massive area, chance encounters with shipmates and crew have continued. The conspicuousness of the intrepid hands of the Robert C. Seamans has been aided by the wet and windy weather which has brought bright yellow foulies out of their lockers. Field trips have resembled a roving swarm of bees. Today, our outfits beneath the rubber yellow jackets had to be nicer, because we were going to the McGuinness Institute, a think tank based out of Wellington, to meet Wendy McGuinness herself.
Upon arrival, we were welcomed by her and a few of her employees. She explained her work and what life in a think tank was like. I resisted the temptation to make a joke about aquariums and fish for the duration of the visit, which ended with time to let us look around and meet her employees.
We chatted and looked around for a while over brownies and coffee before we were loosed back upon the city.
Duncan and I wandered back to Te Papa in search of information on whaling in New Zealand. We both are researching the effects of whaling upon New Zealand, and have been scouring port stops for information. However, much like in Russell, we were largely unsuccessful in our hunt, finding only a small placard acknowledging the fact that it had happened. We were entertained by dioramas of large extinct birds, which we were glad were no longer around for us to run a-fowl of. Eventually, we wandered back to the ship, winding through the halls until we emerged from the museum onto the waterfront.
I spent the rest of the day with a friend from home, Theo, who had recently enrolled in the University of Victoria. We meet outside the Beehive, which is allegedly what locals call the parliament building in Wellington, and grabbed Vietnamese food for dinner, catching up on our respective lives in and around New Zealand. We talked long into the night, until curfew beckoned me back to the ship and I bid adieu to my friend. Upon the ship, I made myself comfortable in the chart house, chatting with returning crew members and letting them fill me in on what they had done with their evenings.
Everyone has spent as much time as they can off the ship, trying to get as much socializing and sight-seeing as they can in before the ship sets sail and we return to our busy routine. The nights at port are a time for weary shipmates to reconvene and settle down before another busy day. Today, Annie and I spent time talking about our plans after the ship, and reminiscing about good times and good friends from Woods Hole. We took our remaining American coins and went on deck to make wishes and toss them into the harbor.
She also told me this story which I am obligated to retell. In Maori, the "wh" makes an f sound. Thus, "Wheat thins" become "Feet thins." You can thank Jeff for this tidbit's inclusion in today's blog post.
The stop has been treating us all well(ington), but the sea beckons. Before long we will be back underway, sailing towards Dunedin and more days of big blue ocean in every direction. Having picked up guitar picks for our resident guitar players (our Chief Mate Allison, Duncan, and I mostly), and having done laundry, the Robert C Seamans is getting closer towards returning to where it belongs.
- Adam Rogowski, A Watch, Macalester College
P.S. Hi Mom and Dad! And anyone back at school, I'll see you soon! And friends in other places, I'll see you less soon, but whatever, hope you're doing fine if you're actually reading this.