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
April 01, 2014
Science + Sailing
13 deg 28.4 min S x 145 deg 28.1 min W
Course & Speed
027 deg (~NE) at 4 knots
Motorsailing under the four lowers
Sunny and breezy with scattered cumulus and stratus clouds
As we continue on toward Nuku Hiva, is has become clear that science stops for no man. Just about every 12 hours we stop the ship’s forward progress, a process known as heaving to, and deploy gear to collect everything from water samples at 400 meters depth to phytoplankton at the surface level. Although we are working together in small groups on our research, we all do our part to help prepare data for other projects. Our duties include working during our on-watch lab hours to deploy the carousel, the neuston net, and the meter net, as well as processing the results.
I have come to realize that the complex and sophisticated scientific work produced aboard the Robert C. Seamans hinges on some fun and sometimes amusing background work both before and after deployments. The sailing maneuver used to position the ship for deployment usually requires gybing, which is the process of turning the stern of the ship through the wind. These big turns could wreak havoc for our steward Nina and any of her assistants in the galley, so it is important to let them know before we begin. Instead of heading below decks to tell let them know, someone instead yells down through the exhaust fan, making for an echoing Darth Vader voice claiming, “Prepare to Gybe!”
In terms of other background work, I think everyone has a good sense of the troubles possible lest we forget to “turn the poop back on” once we have finished collecting data using the water sampling carousel or a net. When science is in progress we want to make sure that we aren’t expelling waste that could interfere with our results, so we turn off the marine sanitation device and then don the “poop necklace” to remind us to turn it back on. It adds style to every outfit and helps us remember to return to the engine room once our deployments are finished.
Once nets are retuned to deck after being towed, the processing begins, part of which is the zooplankton 100-count. My first slightly seasick attempt to identify and count zooplankton caught in a meter net tow under a microscope resulted in many corrections from Assistant Scientist, Julia. I don’t know if she got tired on saying, “No, that is not a Mysid,” as I incorrectly identified several specimens, but her endless patience helped me figure it out by the end.
So, a summary for all you skimmers out there: Darth Vader wants you to prepare to gybe, don’t forget to turn the poop on, and if you think it’s a Mysid, you’re probably wrong.
All the best to those at home! Happy early 21st birthday to Steffi - you’re the bomb, girl! I love you and hope you have a great day.
A note to potentially worried family and friends:
We have received word of the earthquake near Chile and resulting tsunami warnings in the far eastern Pacific. Please know that the Robert C. Seamans is thousands of miles away from the area impacted by this event. The ship, professional crew and students are well and safe as we continue sailing toward the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia.
- Deb Goodwin, Chief Scientist