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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 15, 2018

Into the Southern Trades

Sadie Cwikiel, Stanford University


Charlie Schneider at lookout

Ship's Log

2º39’ N x 168º18’ W

Course Heading and Speed
200 degrees, 7.2 knots

Sail Plan
Motorsailing under the deep reefed main, mainstays’l, forestays’l, and jib

Partly cloudy with occasional squalls, 29ºC

Souls on board

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.

Fair winds,
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.

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s281  pipa • (9) Comments
Previous entry: Learning the lines    Next entry: My home away from home


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 Sandra Jaskiel on July 17, 2018


This was so beautifully and well written that while reading it, I felt I was on the voyage myself! You put us all on deck!

I am thoroughly enjoying the blog posts and look forward to them not only to read about individual experiences, but to learn something new about the ocean and all the life it contains.

Continued safe travels-

Special shout out to Jacob! (I am sure he is cringing reading this).


#2. Posted by Gail Gruenwald on July 17, 2018

Hi Sadie! What a description! Pure grit, adventure, and affection for the sea. Thanks so much for sharing in only the creative writer way that you do. Love you tons. See you in Pago Pago August 13th - A seasoned sailer!

#3. Posted by Kate Cwikiel on July 17, 2018

Sades!! Loved reading this. Will there be haircut photos soon? Sending love, health, and happiness to you and crew.

#4. Posted by Lynn and Norm on July 17, 2018

Vivid descriptions, Sadie! Felt as though we were also aboard! Lots of Love to You and Safe Travels to All, Lynn and Norm

#5. Posted by Wilfred Cwikiel on July 17, 2018


#6. Posted by Betsy McNerney on July 18, 2018

I’m enjoying everyone’s blog posts about life aboard/around the Seamans. Sadie, you are an absolute poet! I liked your up-close description of furling the jib, and your awareness of the living ocean you sail. I look forward to reading more from all… Betsy (Henry B’s mom)

#7. Posted by Lorelei Fenstermacher on July 20, 2018

I wait everyday to see if we hear anything from our adventurers, as I am sure everyone else does too. Love reading all of your blog posts. Emily we are hoping you are having the time of your life. Stay safe and don’t get sunburnt, but it sounds like you needed your rain boots instead.  Have an incredible journey!
Love, Momma

#8. Posted by Mike Desrosiers on July 20, 2018

Hey Brian,
The city of Boston has forgiven your parking ticket.
I guess your write-up was very convincing!
Love you,

#9. Posted by Nick Brandi on July 21, 2018

WOAH!! WOAH!! WOAH!! so cool Sades. Loved reading this. Safe travels



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