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.
SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans
July 10, 2018
Following the Trade Winds to Kiribati
12°36.9’ N x 162°40.0’ W
Hello Everyone! My name is Nate Johnson and I'm here to bring you the fourth installment in the S-281 blog. For several days now, we've been able to cruise along the trade winds towards Kiribati, and today we just crossed the line marking 1000 nautical miles to PIPA. If all goes well, we should cross the Marine Protected Area's borders in one week! The sun continues to arc behind mostly cloudy skies, although that offers little respite from the heat, and the layers of sunscreen continue to pile up. Winds have started to pick up; forcing us to pull in some of the main sail, and with this change the boat has been running smoothly at 7-8 knots heading 200°, slightly southwest.
As the bouts of seasickness have all but passed for the whole crew, and our sea legs have gotten under us, we have been able to sink into a consistent schedule of scientific deployments. I have been able to work on two of these so far, both including a hydrocast, which collects water samples from a carousel that gets dropped down to ~600m and a Neuston tow, which collects fish larvae, plankton and all kinds of biomass.
Unfortunately, we have also been picking up a significant amount of plastic. This has not, however, dulled the excitement of the deploying crews.
The evening deployments are a sight out of Fantasia, as bright blue flashes emanate from the bioluminescent plankton washing out of our net. This morning's deployment, made challenging by the heavy winds and hefty swells, was no less exciting. As we pulled back the net and peered into the collecting and saw endless wriggling copepods, flying fish and anchovy larvae, our 2nd scientist, Gabo, nearly grabbed a Portuguese Man o' War, a gelatinous organism teeming with excruciatingly painful stinging cells. Luckily, her vigilance and experience paid off and she was able to spot it and end any possibility of a painful end. As we continue to run twice daily deployments, our data set will fill out and state of PIPA in 2018 will begin to paint itself before us.
As we have started to grow accustom to the schedule, the rest of the students and I have begun to explore ways to enjoy this 134' beauty, instead of sleeping the hours away in between watches. My watch (C watch) had the morning shift today, and after being relieved by A watch at 13:00, we decided to spend the hour and a half break before class lounging in the bowsprit. For those of you who don't know, the bowsprit is a ~12ft hefty
steel beam that extends off the bow of the ship and which houses the two forward-most sails on the Seamans, the Jib, Jib tops'l and their accompanying lines. Underneath this beam is a precarious bundle of netting that extends about 4ft out to either side, just wide enough for two people to lay side-by-side. Those of us who didn't retire to our bunks below deck were able to climb out and laze in the net, mere feet above the rolling seas
beneath us. The cool sea breeze was a welcome departure from the hot, tiring work on deck. The serenity of the moment was only occasionally punctuated with an anxiety-inducing (especially considering I had my Nikon DSLR in hand) roll over a particularly large swell. As we sail ever closer to PIPA, these moments of calmness and beauty will certainly only continue.
Nate Johnson, C Watch, Amherst College
Have no fear mom, dad, grammy, grandmum, grandpa, Ben, Emma, Jun, Isabelle, Tad, Johnna, Tim, Alex, Terri, Robb, Eli, Casey, Rick, Debbie, Will, Kimberly, Susie, Olivier, Catherine, Sophie an Simon! I have not fallen overboard, and am stockpiling for an epic slideshow when I get back! I hope Fourth of July celebrations went well in Rangeley, Belgrade, Soldotna, Geneva and wherever else we have spread to! If you were taking bets, I did not get seasick at all, much to the chagrin of my queasy shipmates. I am looking forward to sharing all the details with you when I get back! Love you all!