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 15, 2018
Into the Southern Trades
2º39’ N x 168º18’ W
Course Heading and Speed
200 degrees, 7.2 knots
Motorsailing under the deep reefed main, mainstays’l, forestays’l, and jib
Partly cloudy with occasional squalls, 29ºC
Our latitude is steadily ticking down to 0º00', and with the equator looming ever closer on the horizon, it strikes me how far we've sailed in just ten days - over 1300 nautical miles. We have not seen land nor any sign of humans since leaving Hawaii, our only company some boobies and tropicbirds. Days have melded together into a series of 18-hour watch cycles instead of days governed by the rising and setting of the sun. At only 2ºN, we are truly experiencing the Equatorial Pacific. Even though we've made it out the other side of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and into the Southern Trades, we're still experiencing numerous squalls each day. The squalls tower above the sea, their cumulonimbus clouds piling high and letting loose strong winds and slanting rains. The squalls add an exciting challenge to our sailing and enable an authentic voyage that clear blue skies couldn't satisfy. Plus, the rain beats down the muggy heat, as well as offers a free freshwater shower.
A massive winged beast, the Seamans expertly glides through the squally turbulence and continues to fly across the ocean basin. Working in tandem with our muscles and minds, she can carry us through a vast, uninhabitable stretch of the earth. During a recent dawn watch, C Watch was tasked with striking and furling the jib at the onset of the heavy rain and swirling wind we've grown accustomed to (C Watch without a squall? Unheard of!). We lay out on the bowsprit and wrestled with the heavy sail, nothing between us and the waves sparkling with bioluminescent zooplankton but rope netting. We yanked on the canvas with our blistered hands and laid our full bodyweight onto each flake as we managed to wrangle it in. The sail flapped violently and jerked our arms with it. Our yells mixed with the crashing waves and wind; our sweat and the rain were indistinguishable from the other. Eventually we were successful, and the jib sat (messily) furled on the bowsprit. We work in tandem with the ship, but that doesn't mean the life in the sails doesn't pull back.
Sailing through a seemingly empty ocean - although given the contents of our net tows, we are accompanied by a sea teeming with life of all shapes and sizes - the Seamans is our world. We sit in a tiny bobbing cork, not even a pin prick on the map. But she is more than a collection of steel and wood subjected to the will of the waves. Likened to Pegasus by a member of the crew, she is a vessel that moves and breathes with us. She is carrying us increasingly south through squalls and sun alike, and soon together we'll find what PIPA has in store.
Sadie Cwikiel, Stanford University
Mom, Dad, Kate, Minda, and friends reading this - hello! Sending love to you across the ocean and hoping everyone is happy and healthy.