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
June 21, 2015
19° 55.4’ N x 157° 21.7’W
140 degrees PSC
West of Big Island
Imagine you are fast asleep until you suddenly awake in a small bunk, tossed by a large swell, and you instantly remember that you are on a dark ship in the middle of the ocean. This is how I welcomed in my 20th birthday on June 21st, by scrambling to gather myself and make it on deck for Mid-Watch, from 2300 to 0300. It felt surreal as I made my way through the galley and onto the deck of the Robert C. Seamans, making sure not to be toppled over by the constant ebbing and flowing of the ship. When I relieved Julian Rios, the look-out on deck, the dark and dream-like feeling intensified as I began to notice my surroundings. So many stars! Not only stars, but galaxies, the milky way, the southern cross, Arcturus, the big dipper, and not only in the sky but oddly reflected by the sea. As the ship sliced through the swells, small bright flickers of bio-illuminescent algae radiated and then disappeared in the black churning water. There were stars reflecting stars and the ship was like a pendulum swaying between two planes.
However, I had not yet earned my sea-legs and so for the better part of Watch, and several hours afterwards, I heartily puked my stomach clean. Later during class around 1200, I dizzily sat on the deck and tried my best to listen over my lethargy as we discussed the Neuston Net and how it is deployed off the deck in order to gather samples of zooplankton and other marine biomass from the sea surface. But then suddenly, the captain announced that he spotted some charismatic megafauna off the port side and we all ran to the ship's edge to see a pod of whales about 100 meters out. Sure enough, I saw a couple sprays from the blow holes of the whales before they passed out of sight. Overall, I am ecstatic and full of gratitude that the whales received the invitations to my birthday and made an appearance. Soon after, the entire crew sang happy birthday and gave out delicious chocolate cupcakes very tempting to those not yet strong enough to keep them down.
The rest of the day I have mostly kept myself busy so as not to think about the rotten case of sea-sickness I have. With some help from our mate Liz, Chris Nolan our Nautical science instructor, and my ship/watch mate Robert Ramos, I have calculated the time of sunset through some fancy charts in a Nautical Almanac, correcting for my longitude and latitude, and interpolating what time the sunset will occur which is 1910 tonight. Also I calculated the sunrise for tomorrow at 0550 which will be relevant because I will have dawn watch from 0300 to 0700. We are also learning how to plot our movements on the chart by way of dead reckoning our position using a trusty compass and triangle. All in all, something the captain said has stuck with me for today, he said it was probably the first time in my life that I had ever been out of sight of land. As I sail into my twenties, it is a comforting thought that I am farther away from civilization than I have ever been.
The sea goes ever on,
P.S. Missing all of my family and friends, especially my dad , Lance Webber, which I did not get to say happy Father's Day to because the crew has shanghaied all of our personal cellular devices. Also sending my regards to Kelly Webber, who I am sure would be geeking out with me over phytoplankton and the whales, and also sending love to Geep and all my sisters and brothers. It does feel like a more scientific version of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Love you all and thinking of you!