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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

February 13, 2014

S251 Weblog 13 February 2014

Taylor Hogan, B Watch, Northeastern University


View of the staysls with the yards braced sharp for least wind resistance, as seen from the head rig.

Ship's Log

Current Position
11° 09.2’ S x 142° 08.1’ W
En route from Fakarava to Nuku Hiva
Course and Speed
025 averaging 5-6 knots
Sail Plan
Four lowers with a single reef in the main
5/8ths of the sky is painted with fluffy cumulus clouds, with Force 4 winds out of the East. Five-foot waves rock the ship gently as were currently hove to for science.

Its 0851, and Ive already been awake for many more hours than I would be if I were still a landlubber. I collapsed into my bunk last night after mid watch (from 2300 to 0300), and spent about three seconds lying awake before the rocking of the ship and the exhaustion of a day of sailing tossed me into dreamland. And oh, did the ship rock! Yesterday afternoon we turned on the main engine to motorsail closer to the wind, which is coming from the direction we need to go needless to say, thats not exactly ideal for sailing. This point of sail is sometimes called beating to windward, and last night I think we all learned why: sailing into the wind also meant sailing into the waves, so we endured a long night of beating head-on through the eight- and nine-foot seas. Our forward lookouts returned to the quarterdeck absolutely soaked through from the spray.

But like everything in sailing and in life, the roughness of the sea just makes the smooth sailing all the more sweet. The serenity of a morning after a long, rough night is beautiful. I sat on the lab top this morning for an hour writing in my brand new journal (its wonderful to have loved ones who bring presents from Harry Potter World).   The sun was beaming from bright blue skies, and it was peaceful listening to the wind whistle over the sailcloth above as we sailed along under the four lowers (The jib, forestays’l, stays’l, and mains’l).

Little is as rewarding to me as the conquest of a challenge. A few nights ago, my watch officer cried out Hands to strike the JT! I knew where the jib tops’l was, and where its lines live, but I’d never been asked to strike it (take it down) before, nor had I been on deck when the process was explained. But it was a challenge, and I sure wasn’t going to back down. I made my way to the JT downhaul (the line that hauls down the JT- named appropriately), made ready the downhaul, passed the line back to my watch mates who would haul together with me, called out Ready on the downhaul! and received the command to haul away. It was only halfway through hauling the sail down that I realized where it was going and what would come next, and my heart gave a leap in fear and excitement.

The JT is the Seamans’ foremost sail, and when its furled (folded up neatly when not in use), it rests on the bowsprit, the spar that sticks out forward from the bow. The only way to furl a sail on the bowsprit is to walk out onto the head rig, the net that creates a platform between the bowsprit and the bow. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic to realize what I was about to do. When we finished hauling down the JT, I made fast the downhaul, informed the mate, and in return, heard the command I’d been eagerly anticipating: hands to furl the JT!

I practically bounded (but slowly and safely, of course) to the prow, clipped in to the head rig safety wire, climbed over the gunwale, and made my way forward to the tip of the bowsprit. I had a job to do, to get the JT under control and furl it neatly, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy every second of my time standing on that net, held aboard by only my own strength and balance (and my safety harness, but I like to pretend I’m not wearing it as soon as I get properly secured). We’d just passed through a small squall, so I was soaked through my foulies (foul weather gear, the highly technical nautical term for a rain jacket), the wind was howling, and Seamans was muscling her way through eight-foot seas, which meant that perched on the tip of the bowsprit, I was on one heck of a ride.

When the job was done, we filed off of the head rig, unclipped, and I took a moment to myself to let the adrenaline wash over me. The athletic and mental challenge was vanquished, the moment savored, and it was time to strike the next sail.

Mom: Im having so much fun, and haven’t gotten sunburned (or seasick) once!

ReAnnen: I’m in a tank top and bathing suit, sunning on the deck of a sailboat in the middle of the South Pacific, hope you’re enjoying the New England winter!

Dad: You wouldn’t like it here; its too hot. But you probably wouldn’t mind driving the school bus on Fakarava; the driver is completely separated from the kids!

Grandpa: I have learned so much, and have enjoyed every second of this experience. I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Thank you for inspiring the sailor within me.

Sarina: Will you be my Valentine? If yes, meet me under Orion on Valentines Day night. I’ll be a little late, on account of being on the other side of the world, but I’ll bring the Billy Joel if you’ll save me a dance.

- Taylor


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