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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 14, 2017

Hold ‘Em & Fold ‘Em

Mark “Snark” Waddington, B-watch, Second Mate

Protecting the Phoenix Islands

Eating lunch at the gimbaled tables, which sway with the level of the seas to keep everything from spilling. Left to right: Isaac Carroo from Rice University; Jared Rose from Skidmore College; Mark Waddington, third mate; Kareati Waysang from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand; Adrielle Callipan from San Francisco State University; Cheryl Bube, lab hand/graduate student, UCSB Bren School; Janet Bering, second assistant scientist; Kyle Alvanas, University of Rhode Island

Ship's Log

Current Position
7° 20.6’ S, 170° 12.3’ W

Ship’s Heading & Speed
040 degrees per ships compass, 6 kts

Sail Plan
Sailing under single-reefed main, main stays’l, forestays ’l, and jib

Clear with scattered cumulus clouds and 32 degrees Celsius. Winds generally eastward and between 15 and 20 knots

Souls on Board

A very wise friend once gave me this advice (I think we were talking about chairs):  “You’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them. Know when to walk away, and know when to run.” He was trying to wax philosophically about how chairs were like life in general. Now it’s my turn.

We don’t have chairs on board the Seamans. The best we can conjure up are 3 stools in the dry lab (read that: only air conditioned room on the ship). The rest are benches or deck boxes. Pictured you can see some of said affixed benches. They are fixed to the ship and not easy to hold them for anyone that you respect, as the saying implies. But let me tell you, I would need 37 chairs to hold because there are 37 bottoms with owners that I respect and am happy to sail with.

We don’t have any folding chairs either. While you would think that it might make sense as they are easily stowable, there would be a sliding problem andsome accompanying bruises. But let us take the bigger picture about what he meant by “know when to fold them.” Here on the SEAMANS, we all have to put our toys away when we are done with them. Toys being, Neuston nets, tucker trawls, CTDs (conductivity, temperature, and depth sensors), forestays’ls, forks…you get the idea. Sometimes re-teaching this valuable kindergarten rule is a chore. Happily I have seen mutual support, encouragement and sheer lend-a-handedness from our students. Enough to warm anyone’s heart. But “folding the chairs” is more than just putting away the toys. It’s leaving the place better than you found it. Taking action to make “it” better for the ship and for your shipmates. Our students have this in spades (pardon the cross metaphors).

You can’t walk too far away on the Seamans. 130 ft. tops. And, you’ll need a harness. I think what he was getting at was that you have to have the presence of mind to walk away from a problem to let it percolate, or to take a breather and then jump back in the game. Not just to leave the chair behind but get the bigger picture and return to solve the problem. Coming back to the “hold ‘em” part of the chair analogy. Hearing about the research that they are undertaking on top of all their shipboard lifestyle learning, it is hard not to be impressed at the bigger picture that they are holding in their heads. And soon they will be able to bring that bigger picture to the world. Once they finish their homework…boatwork?

I’m not sure what my friend meant about the running part. To tell the truth, he was wise and kind of weird, too. Obviously there is no running on board a heaving, bobbing sailing ship.  A fact that I am surprised I have to mention more than once. But maybe this is a good time to talk about our global changes that are occurring and that are never more present than here within PIPA (the Phoenix Islands Protected Area). We can run from these global changes or like the students on board, we can run to them. Their research is tackling in PIPA what we are all concerned about but few of us are combating.  They are researching how coral has bleached in response to elevated sea temperatures, and how climate refugees respond when their homes may be lost due to sea level rise. They’re researching plastic pollution, sustainable water practices, renewable energy, fisheries conservation, sense of place education, sea life population changes, and public health. 

Our students of S-274 aren’t running from our world’s problems. They are facing them and coming to terms with the magnitude of these challenges. Doing this kind of work, it is hard not to get discouraged. But judging from their good spirits and determination to get ’er done, I think they are working on solutions for a better tomorrow. They know when to fold ’em.

To all parents of S-274 students out there, I have seen everyone onboard smiling and laughing. And to Mrs. Monsein-Rose:  Jared says to say hi, and he loves you, and he is having fun… (he was working on the computer next to me when I wrote this).

- Mark

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s274  sailing  climate change  research • (1) Comments
Previous entry: We Are Alone    Next entry: Looking Inward


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 Berrin Kuhn on July 18, 2017

Dear Mark W.
Thank’s for your great blog ! As a mother, it really means a lot to me that all students are enjoying the program over there. I know everybody is learning a lot and it is such amazing experience but learning from you that they are still smiling makes my day.. (I wish I was there too—next year I’m checking for vacancies in the program!)

Hugs to all..
Devin’s Mom



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