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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 22, 2017


Kate Benson, A-Watch, Stetson University

Protecting the Phoenix Islands

Above: Handful of Hermit Crabs Below: Wires in deserted Kanton building.

Ship's Log

At anchor, Kanton Island (Phoenix Islands Protected Area)

Ship’s Heading & Speed
Docked at Kanton Island

Sail Plan
All sails harbor furled

Gorgeous sunny day with a smattering of quick showers to cool off

Souls on Board

I do not get homesick.

I was raised to be independent. My younger brother and I were given every opportunity to flex our self-reliance. From very early ages, we were encouraged to follow our passions and seek out new experiences-no matter how far from home they took us. We didn't have to worry or fret; we were secure in the knowledge that our parents were at home, patiently waiting for us to return to them. Whether it was days away for summer camp, weeks away for travel, months away for school, I never struggled with wishing I was back at home. Imagining trading whatever adventure I was currently on for the humdrum of everyday life back home in Charlotte, North Carolina was near anathema to me.

But, tonight? Tonight, I look back on the last few days on Kanton Island-on the exotic things I've seen, the foreign things I've done-and all I can see is my family.

I saw my little brother. I saw him in the sweet faces of the I-Kiribati children, their endearing, gap-toothed smiles reminded me of how cute Cary was when he was little. I saw my brother while watching the siblings play together; a little teasing, a little joking, a little laughing, and a lot of love.

I saw my grandmother. I saw her in the mix-matched dice set strewn on a table in the ship; they reminded me of her indomitable skill at bunko. I saw my grandma in the old hymns hummed by an I-Kiribati grandma as she brushed her granddaughter's unruly hair. I saw my grandma in a little boy speaking both sides of an entire conversation to his dog; sassy Zipper back home demands that kind of attention, too.

I saw my mother. I saw her in the tiny, electric blue fish darting around the coral. I knew of all the fish that surrounded me in the water, those would be her favorite. I saw my mother in the hospitality of the I-Kiribati people. She was in the women cooking enough food for seventy WITH enough leftovers for all. She was in the I-Kiribati MC, orchestrating the food line and entertainment, ensuring all were fed and entertained. I saw my mother in the tide pools. The wells of vibrant life were reminiscent of so many other tide pools we've explored together, from the beaches of Florida and California to the coasts of France and Belize.

I saw my father. I saw him in a deserted control building. The colorful, tangled mass of twisted wires sprouting from a control board reminded me of his tales of when computers were dinosaurs the size of whole rooms and punched out cards on paper (!) instead of having screens. I saw my father in the grey, hirsute growth covering the bushes here; it looked so similar to his bristly, silver streaked beard. I saw my father in the hundreds of thousands of hermit crabs crawling all over the island. I could so easily picture him and I picking our favorite and holding crab races like we used to with sand fiddlers on the shores of North Carolina.

Despite being on the other side of the planet and having the adventure of a lifetime in an other-worldly environment unlike any I've ever experienced, I can see my family all around me. I miss them terribly, but yet I'm not homesick. Instead of wishing to trade the Phoenix Islands for Charlotte, I wish more than anything to have my family here with me, experiencing this voyage by my side.

- Kate 

Previous entry: An Eventful Day    Next entry: Mental Toughness


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 Jackie Willits on July 24, 2017

I am sooooo happy you are seeing so many different creatures God created. That is so great.  I miss you my beautiful grand daughter.


#2. Posted by LaCinda on July 24, 2017

Kate, I am very proud of your adventuresome spirit and desire to make the world (especially the ocean) a better place. You are both unique and an awesome blessing.  Can’t wait to hear more about this adventure of a lifetime.


#3. Posted by Annie Donovan on July 24, 2017


This is a beautiful and moving post. Thank you.

#4. Posted by Annie Donovan on July 24, 2017

To who ever reads this: please tell Isaac that Jamaica beat Mexico last night! Woo hoo.

#5. Posted by Barbara Clark on July 24, 2017

wonderful post!  sounds like you are all having the time of your lives—Janet has told me she never gets to read these comments- so I wonder if any of you all will—but I must say I admire the adventurous spirit of all the students—but once again I am awestruck by the poetry of some of these posts!  sail on—in great weather!  Janet’s mom

#6. Posted by Kim McCormick on July 25, 2017

Wow, Kate, that was a beautifully crafted post. Lovely. Thank you!

#7. Posted by JB Pitts on August 07, 2017

This is an incredible piece. Brought me back to the edge of the crystal waters of the Kanton lagoon. I was very happy to see another Stetsonian make this voyage, and it makes me even happier to see that we’re being so well represented. Well done.



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