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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 10, 2018

Following the Trade Winds to Kiribati

Nate Johnson, C Watch, Amherst College


Above: Several students gaze out over the bow (Pictured, from left to right: Chloe-Rose Colombero, AB Spranger, Lee Fenstermacher and Sadie Cwikiel). Below: Enjoying the fresh air under the bowsprit (Pictured from left to right: Lucas Asher, Nate Johnson, Mackenzie Meier, AB Spranger, Sadie Cwikiel and Lee Fenstermacher). Photos by Nate Johnson

Ship's Log

Ship’s position
12°36.9’ N x 162°40.0’ W

Souls on board

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!


Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s281  pipa  study abroad  science  research • (7) Comments
Previous entry: Adjusting to Life at Sea    Next entry: Science on the high seas


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 Tracy on July 11, 2018

Nate- Love reading the blog post! So glad to hear you haven’t been suffering from seasickness. Very proud of you and can’t wait to hear about your adventures and see your pictures!! XXOO Mom

#2. Posted by Grammy on July 12, 2018

It was so good to hear from you.  You must be a descendant of POPS because when we were on the ocean I always got seasick, but POPS never did.  Take care & stay safe!  XXOO Grammy

#3. Posted by Shelley Ryan on July 13, 2018

Thank you so much for the photos! I would imagine that I speak for all of the parents when I say that it means a lot to us to see your happy, smiling faces! grin

#4. Posted by Laura (Andy’s mom) on July 13, 2018

Nate - really enjoyed reading about your adventure!

#5. Posted by Steve & Lorelei Fenstermacher on July 15, 2018

Hi Emily,
We think about you everyday and wonder what incredible experience will happen next.  So nice to see pictures of you and can’t wait to see more pictures when you come home. 
Love, Dad & Mom

#6. Posted by Burangke Tabeibeti on July 15, 2018

I am requesting information about your expected date of arrival here in Kanton so that the Policeman, PIPA Kanton Coordinator and I the PIPA Kanton Assistant could meet you on arrival and facilitate with your arrival and Biosecurity clearance.

Burangke Tabeibeti
PIPA Kanton Assistant.

#7. Posted by Leona Colombero on July 17, 2018

Dearest Chloe-Rose,

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one is priceless! I’m so happy to see your smile!! Liam appreciated your shout-out on his birthday. I gave him your card and he can’t wait to get his t-shirt! We’re all so proud of you and can’t wait to hear about your adventures.

To the moon and back, love always, Moma



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