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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, 2016

Pollywogs Be Gone!

John "JB" Pitts, B Watch, Stetson University

Protecting the Phoenix Islands

Our offerings to Neptune have been made. Groovy Haircut Credit: Sergio Photo Credit: Alexandra

Ship's Log

Current Position
0° 30.0’N x 170° 09.5’W

The Southern Hemisphere!

Ship Heading

Hove 2 FOR SCIENCE!!!!!!!!!!


Sail Plan
Sunny and sailing full speed ahead under the four lowers to PIPA

Souls on Board

Beings of the interweb, we now bring you this urgent message:

WE’VE CROSSED THE EQUATOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The latitude on our GPS hit all zeroes as Polaris slunk below our horizon this morning at approximately 0445. Once Neptune awoke in the afternoon, we were put on trial for our misgivings. We were all found guilty, but after a few tests and tributes we were honorably given Shellback status.

A few notes for my people stuck on solid ground: We have the best steward in all the high seas, so I’ve eaten like the ruler of the herbivores. I am much better at steering a ship than a car, possibly due to the slightly smaller amount of traffic. I have short hair again (wellllllll… see below). My favorite thing about life on the ocean so far: the visual embodiment of universal connectedness. At night, infinite numbers of worlds can be seen flickering overhead and floating underfoot. The waves rolling into each other serve as a reminder that nothing comes into existence without the constant, minute change of everything around it. I’m thinking of each of you and look forward to swapping stories of our adventures across the world.

In a class discussion on Monday, I said that I feel like a Portuguese man-of-war: pretty powerful on my own, but still reliant on the rest of my colony to handle everything that needs to be done. So I will let their posts cover the goings-on of the ship (except for Tom’s. B-watch needs a raging squall. Don’t apologize).

We are also on track to reach our destination, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, sometime later tonight, so I will use this post to talk a little bit about the nation of Kiribati (pronounced keer-e-bas) whose preservation of the area has allowed us to embark on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Considering that most of us had never heard of Kiribati prior to SEA Semester, I doubt you have either. They know about the U.S. though. While we will not meet many people from Kiribati on our journey- only a caretaker population of about 25 people live in the Phoenix group that comprise 8 of the nation’s 33 islands - we do have an I-Kiribati observer, Kore, accompanying us. In the first conversation I had with him, we talked about President Obama, the upcoming election, and the war in the Middle East. He wanted to know about college in the U.S., as his eldest daughter is currently hoping to earn the opportunity to attend university in Australia or New Zealand.

Unfortunately, the goal for most I-Kiribati is to leave their home. Their property, food, and water security are threatened by rising sea and rising population. The largest economic input for the islands is selling tuna fishing licenses to larger nations, as most don’t have the equipment necessary to fish tuna themselves. Despite this, they closed off fishing in nearly an eighth of their exclusive economic zone to create PIPA and protect some of the world’s most pristine coral habitats, which will serve as a baseline for examining reef health across the globe. In a culture where water is common property and refusing help to someone in need is taboo, it is hardly surprising that they would give such a gift to the world.

It is time for us to start giving back to nations like Kiribati. It starts by admitting that we as a planet are facing a new era. It doesn’t matter if humans have changed the climate or not, it is changing. It always has. We must change with it. If the United States is going to be an example for the rest of the world, let us be a positive one.

All love, wonderful people.
- JB

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s268  sailing • (3) Comments


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 Chase on July 18, 2016

This post is next level - awesome.

#2. Posted by Jennifer on July 19, 2016

So long polliwog status!  Congrats to all you newly annointed shellbacks! 
The haircut is spectacular and the photographer is amazing as always.


#3. Posted by Ingrid Drucker on August 06, 2016

Hi John, this is Perry’s mom. Yes, I have hear of Republic of Kiribati. Here’s a book, all of you on this voyage should read. The Sex Lives of Cannibals (Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific) by J. Maarten Troost copyright 2004. It’s a funny story about Maarten and his fiance discovering that living on an island isn’t as glamourous as one would think and their struggles while living there for 2-3 years. Funny, that I would pick up that book just 6 months before Perry was to go on this trip. Happy Sailing!



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