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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

October 24, 2015

Bye Bye Fiji

Avi Vigdorchik, A Watch, Muhlenberg College

SPICE

A watch holding down the deck with Kevo and Lord Nelson as our mate and assistant scientist.

Ship's Log

Position
18° 58.1’S, 178° 01.0’E

Location
Leaving Suva, Fiji

Weather
27° C, Blue skies with scattered cumulus clouds, Light winds and 2-5 ft. waves.

Souls on Board

After a couple of days in the beautiful city of Suva, Fiji, it is time to hit the road again; or in our case the waves. But, there is still so much to be done before being able to leave. In a matter of hours, the ship must transform from a land laden boat to a salty sea ferrying vessel. Headed out into the vast blue unknown, we need to rid ourselves of that which is not useful. 

We don't want to carry along the dirt, mung, trash, insects, or any other discomforts of the land. After finishing the final loads of laundry, scrubbing the decks, organizing the lab and buying copious amounts of fruit, or engineer Ted fires up the engine and we are off to sea. The captain shouts orders for students to haul line after line, the sails flying up the mast as the ship begins to rock. Pencils, mugs, pans, backpacks, books begin to clink clank as they hit the soles. Venturing farther and farther out, the sounds of cars and sirens are replaced with the waves hitting the side of the ship and the horizon of buildings fades to clear untouched blue skies.  No distractions, no surroundings, just a small spec in the largest body of water on earth.

Not only does the ship need to be prepared for the voyage, we (as the crew) need to once again become sailors: a fundamental change of mind that I did not understand as a land lubbing lad. We are a group of 35 people, with 135 feet of space, travelling approximately 1100 nautical miles with 1 common goal of sailing the ship. That one goal unifies us to an extent which is hard to find on land. Each person assumes a role within the greater structure of the ships hierarchy. The ship cannot function without the commands of the captain, the supervision of the mates, the assistance of the scientists, the expertise of the engineers and (most importantly) the cooking of the steward. But, our hands are the ones that do the work. And each person relies on the others to do what they do correctly, efficiently and successfully. This structure leads to necessary discipline which would not otherwise be required on shore. An added sense of vigilance, awareness and mindfulness is essential to maintain the sustainability of our floating city. We must take care of others and trust others to take care of us to be successful; a sense of community that is not easily come by.

Of course it isn't all smooth sailing in the oceans. Disembarking from land means everything is constantly moving, the world spans 135ft and communication is limited. At sea, one becomes unaware that there is a larger world past the surrounding blue, in which events occur that impact a large number people and have ever lasting effects. This idea is hard to understand living in a society the way we do on land, and even more difficult to describe. Letting go of that connection has not been easy, but nothing is really easy at sea. Simply walking to use the head is an adventure in itself. But, this juxtaposition to normal life has already helped me to learn and realize what I value and need. Truly, this has been an awesome experience (even with the terrible sea sickness) from which I have learned things I could never have learned in school.

- Avi

For all my family at home: all is good at sea, no need to worry about me (even though I know you will check the weather of our GPS position daily). I miss you all! Shout out to Allie Heckerd: one month to New Zealand! See you so so soon!!

Reactions

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 Dad W-26 on October 29, 2015

So great to see a picture of you Little SEAgull!
Go A Watch!
Love,
Dad


#2. Posted by Bill burke on October 31, 2015

Hi Bill, enjoy reading about your adventures. Glad all is going well. Everything at home is good. Conor continues to get fantastic offers from top companies. Talked with Emily. She is settling in and has another job. Sounded very happy. We plan on picking Will and Annie up for Thanksgiving at Maureen’s and taking them to your home on Friday on our way to Patty,‘s. Love and hugs. Happy day..and God bless you all


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