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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.

SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans



Mind over Matter: If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter

Haidee Chen, A watch, Columbia University
Protecting the Phoenix Islands

Photo Credits to Sherry!

Ship's Log

Noon Position
4° 29’S x 172°22’W

Description of location
10.6 miles from Orona

Ship Heading

Ship Speed

Taffrail Log

Souls on Board

On a scale from a small rowboat in the middle of the ocean with a Beaufort force of 7 and a cruise ship smoothly sailing with civilization in sight, I fluctuate between a tugboat floating on a sea of mirrors and the Robert C. Seamans being rocked and inundated by the harsh wrath of Cthulhu (which happens to be my reality as of now). After overcoming the sea sickness that decided to sucker punch me in my stomach (literally) two days ago, my mind is in a relatively good place. Isolated out at sea with nothing but salt water for miles and miles, my mind can be a palace or a prison depending on the circumstances.

Thoughts at sea are strange; without social media or the all-powerful internet, there’s not much to distract me from myself. It feels so different staring at the sea and allowing my thoughts to wander through my mind; it feels as though they are trespassers, yet familiar and comfortable friends at the same time. Often I would stare out at the horizon from a rail for some time as they walk in and out of my mind, some making brief amiable visits and others… not so much. At night on the bow sprit while looking off into the distance, I can almost see the future in a lightning storm cracking from miles away, concerning, ominous, and impending.

However, the second I break eye contact with the squall, I dip my head to look over the railing (in the safest way possible, of course) and observe the flashes of bluish-green bioluminescence, a constant reminder of the fleeting beauty of life. As I stare into the depths of the sea, the reflection of the moon prevents me from seeing anything but the surface. Perhaps life bustles sturdily below the surface. Perhaps the opposite is true. As my research project focuses on nutrients in the water, I like to think that I am researching the idea of life. All beautiful moments end; a wave crashes against the port side of the ship, jerking me back to the physical world of the ship. However, the rolling waves that unbalance me help me cherish my thoughts on the bowsprit, whether they be comforting or isolating; they are not there to occupy my time or comfort me, but rather to help me find internal balance and become accustomed to the uncomfortable-ness of reflection.

As I stare out at the sky at night, I feel small among the thousands of stars. Loneliness threatens to consume me, and among the thousands of strangers in the night sky, I fail to find comfort. In the grand scheme of life, we are insignificant, tiny whitish-blue orbs drifting with the passage of time throughout the sky and as unidentifiable as any other star to the untrained eye. Looking more closely at the stars with friends however brings comfort; stories about constellations like Cassiopeia and Scorpio are swapped and stars like Antares and Sirius are recognizable, almost as old friends are. And for me, the moon has always been a symbol of togetherness, of a continuous cycle: a reminder that things always get better.

Take this blog post with a grain of salt. Or several grains considering that as of yesterday, I hadn’t showered in a week. To my parents, friends, family, and Helen: Surprise guys, I’m still alive. I’ve learned so much mentally, emotionally, and physically through this experience. 10/10 would do again, everyone here is fascinating and wonderful, and I’m having an amazing time. I love you and miss you very much.

Much love,


Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s268  life at sea  research • (0) Comments
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