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SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans

April 22, 2017

On Shipmates and Happiness

Elizabeth Pieters, A Watch, Simon Fraser University

SEA Semester

All of us after our march for science around the boat! Photo credit: Jay, with Angel’s camera

Ship's Log

Dinner Position
146 ° 50’ W, 30° 13’ ish

Ship’s heading
357° T

Noon Log

Noon sail plan
Four lowers and tops’l. Wind F3. Seas WSW / 10 feet.

Marine Mammals
Three terns!

Souls on Board

I haven’t seen land in 23 days. What a wide, wonderful, watery world it is out there, surrounded by nothing but the ocean, and the ship carrying you across the waves. Of course, on this boat you’re surrounded by more than just the ocean: and no, I’m not talking about the sky and I won’t be waxing eloquent on the majesty of the stars at night, though they are brilliant.

So what am I surrounded by then? If not the ocean or sky or stars?

My SHIPMATES. I am surrounded, day in and day out, by a boatload of salts, jokers, and eccentrics who make my 134.5 foot world go round. You can see how comfortable we’ve all gotten around each other; this photo was taken after parading around our boat screaming “Science!! Science!!” at the top of our lungs for March for Science today, on Earth day. Almost inevitably we wind up learning as much about each other as we do about sail handling or our research projects. Other people, when living in such a tight knit community, are fascinating. How they relate to each other, what their quirks are, what makes them tick. And: what makes them happy.

So, based on my own observations of this eclectic cast, here are a few examples of what seems to me to make my lovely shipmates happy. I hope it will give you just a flavour of all the comradery on this ship; though I would have loved to mention everyone by name, this blog is already too long and I apologize.

Every sunrise and sunset you can expect to see Nate and Savio, the engineers, poke their heads up onto the quarterdeck, frequently with mugs in tow. They often precalculate the time of sunrise and sunset using the nautical almanac to be sure that they don’t miss it.

For Scott and Sammi, it’s any birds; Sammi will have her camera and Scott will have binoculars or a bird book, trying to nail down the exact species.

For Jay, the captain of this good ship Lollipop, it’s probably two sweats on the braces and then making fast quick quick quick, because he’s got things to do.

Would a giant squid make Chuck happy? Or would it just foul up the meter net? I think it’d be worth it (I checked, and Chuck agrees).

For Talia, it’s time we spend playing music together. She plays the guitar and sings along with the good old A watch team.

For the stewards, Lauren and Angel, I can only hope that the amazement on our faces every time they whip out another astounding meal makes it worth the hard work in a roly-poly galley. I’ve spent a day with them and l still don’t know how it’s physically possible for them to do what they do. Wizards.

For Helen and Erin, scientists on board, it’s probably watching us students slowly lose our incompetence in the lab, although the discovery of plastic dinosaur toys in the lab proved that we’re still five years old.

For Jacquelyn, climbing up to the very top of the foremast and sitting there, swaying in the swells, must have been a piece of cake for a rock climber, but doubtless still enjoyable.

For Anna, it could be the knuck tats (knuckle tattoos, don’t worry mom, it’s just sharpie) that she instigated, which are brilliant and make us all laugh.

For Lily, it would probably be the secret bin of props in the science lab from which she grabbed a purple fish hat and a bat mask (clarifying: not a batman mask. A bat mask. Just a purple bat covering her face.) when she had to MC class.

For a lot of us students, it may be class time that makes us happy; all 14 of us gather together again irrespective of watches and it’s almost like the 6 weeks we spent together in Woods Hole.

For some pranksters, it’s changing the background of the library computers to ridiculous photos of various unsuspecting crew members, though some have deserved it more than others.

And I haven’t even begun to mention slackjawing yet. These people on this ship, the people that I have been thrown together with just by chance, by luck, by some shift in the breeze (weather is everything), they are as
vibrant and varied as the marine life we pull up in our nets and gape at through microscopes.

As for me, I originally drew up an equation for my happiness (yes, math, sorry) that read:

Happiness = sunshine or stars * good food * music * wind factor * e^(laughter) / (seasickness^2 * sleep deprivation) (Note: the enjoyment derived from wind factor quickly drops after about Force 8/9.)

However, after looking up and around me, at my shipmates, I’ve found a much simpler equation to describe my own happiness, one that reflects this integrated community that it is impossible to separate from.

Happiness = shipmates’ happiness.

P.S. Love to Mom & Dad & Elliot & Miriam and anybody else in my family who might get ahold of this blog. Love to John; I will be seeing you unbelievably soon and I can’t wait. And of course: my one and only cat. Somebody give Snowy a can of tuna for me!

- Elizabeth 

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Ocean Exploration, • Topics: None • (3) Comments
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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 Patty Beech on April 24, 2017

Happiness = shipmates’ happiness.  This is an excellent motto for life, even though your “shipmates” and “ships” will change many times!  Thank you for this beautiful post!

1,200 people marched for Science along the shore of Lake Superior on Saturday on a perfect warm Duluth, Minnesota day!  How wonderful that another Duluthian, Talia, was marching for science on the sailboat on this day too!

My girl has always loved music and nature and water and her friends!  I love that all these interests and passions have come together on this journey!

S-272! Your blog posts are a highlight of every day! Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience with us! Steer clear of cyclones, though, please!!!

#2. Posted by Susan Pieters on April 24, 2017

Parents formula for happiness:

(blogs + pictures + good weather reports) /cyclones^ - cat meowing = Fantastic experience for Liz and crew. We’re all proud of you.

Snowy’s feline formula: 
happiness=(tuna + warm lap)/(Elliot chasing her).

P.S. When I told Auntie Leo about the gale force winds, she was glad you were getting your money’s worth. Also, when the Fore Stays’l ripped, she said, “That must have been expensive.” Spoken like a true sailor. Also, just for the record, I was able to figure out what all those little arrows and the barbs meant on the weather map. They meant the wind was whistling faster than a 32nd note. Just think, you were in 64th note weather! It must have been a trilling ride!

#3. Posted by kathleen verner on April 26, 2017

Thank you, Elizabeth, for this post of happiness! Just beautiful! Sending hugs across the sea! ( from Sammi’s mom)



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