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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

March 30, 2015

Sciencing to the MAX!

Leah Chomiak, A Watch, University of Miami

Oceans & Climate

Leah waiting for the all clear from Chief Scientist, Deb Goodwin, to attach the hydrocast to the J-frame and begin deployment off the port side. Photo Credit: Will McClean.

Ship's Log

Current Position
43° 56.7’ S x 176° 33.6’ W

Docked at Waitangi Harbour, Chatham Islands

Course & Speed
075 degrees ordered, steered 131 degrees into harbor, 3-5 knots

Sail Plan
Sailing under the four lowers with engine assist into port

Sunny skies, pleasant winds, 3ft seas

Souls on Board

Today marks just our 3rd full day out on the open seas! The Chatham Rise has treated us well, and in my case, has really put the world into perspective. The Pacific is a huge place! We've currently travelled over 400 nautical miles by pure sail and are due to touchdown in the Chatham Islands this evening! Weather has had its ups and downs; last night we cruised right on through a squall with winds/seas of a Beaufort Force 7 (look it up if you don't know what I mean!). It was quite the experience to be at the helm trying to maintain course with rain pelting my eyes and waves rocking and rolling everywhere. But despite last night's adventures, today's conditions have been nonetheless perfect, sunny and calm (for the most part!). We've been under sail with the assist of the engine for the past few days because the winds had not been in our favor. Just last night, after passing the antemeridian, 180 degrees longitude (WOOOO!), winds shifted and we were able to cut the engines and sail Mama Seamans like she deserves to be sailed. 180 degrees marks the International Date Line in the rest of the Pacific, however, New Zealand thinks having the Chatham Islands in a different day is too much of a hassle. Instead they enforce a 45 minute daylight savings, because that's easier right? We will time warp back into the past soon after passing the Chathams. 

What has been four days has felt like an eternity, with each nap in between watches feeling like a different year when we wake up. Our watches run 0700-1300, 1300-1900, 1900-2300, 2300-0300, and 0300-0700, and each group rotates through everyday, leaving only a few hours of rest at the end. Watch roles differentiate from deckhands, assistant steward, assistant engineer, dish duty, and labbies (aka lab duty) each watch cycle. My favorite is lab duty, especially when we are deploying our wonderful gadgets!

Today, we completed a morning station at 0930 where we deployed a hydrocast, Neuston net, and phytoplankton net. To get on station, we must double gybe and heave to in order to halt the movement of the ship. Prior to any
sciencing, we must make sure the poop is turned off (we would hate to have our own sewage water in our lovely samples!). The hydrocast, a carousel containing 12 niskin bottles and a CTD, is eased over the ship via a winch
and then lowered to a specific depth. Our station today was at 435 meters, and we sampled up to 400 meters with the hydrocast. Each of the 12 niskin bottles are programmed to close at a specific depth in the water column;
therefore, when we bring the hydrocast back on board, we have 12 water samples from different subsurface water masses. These water samples then get processed for alkalinity, pH, and chlorophyll-a, among other parameters. The Neuston and phytoplankton nets are rigged to float at the surface while the deck crew tries their best to keep the ship at a zooming two knots. While typically we find copepods, euphausid & mysid shrimp, amphipods, and other larval species, today's tows were full of salps! Salps are gelatinous creatures that link together to form floating chains, and our nets were lucky enough to cruise right through one. The next round of labbies had the pleasure of sorting through all the goop to analyze the remaining little critters under the microscope.

These past few days have been absolutely unreal: seeing bioluminescent dolphins, crossing the antemeridian, seeing the southern cross for the first time (queue Jimmy Buffet song), battling our first squall, all leading up to our arrival to the remote Chathams and our journey thereafter. I find myself staring at the ocean around me and ask myself how I got so lucky to be sailing the Southern Pacific. Who else do you know who has done that in their lifetime?! I am so thankful to be here doing what I love, and want to send thanks to all my friends and family for supporting me and helping me embark on this journey.

As of 1600 Chatham time, we have successfully completed our first leg of the trip and are currently docked at Waitangi Harbour in the Chatham Islands. LAND HO!


Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Oceans & Climate, • Topics: s258  science  port stops  chatham islands • (3) Comments
Previous entry: Stars and Glowing Seas    Next entry: Chatham Islands port stop


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 Leah Chomiak on March 30, 2015

Ahoy Leah!  I just read your posting!  What an incredible journey so far!  It was like reading something in a foreign language!  But, no worries, I’m looking everything up!!  I’m going to be a lot smarter by the time you complete this sea semester! I cannot even imagine what it was like sailing in the squall with the winds and the pelting rain- must have been like something out of a novel!  I literally am so happy for you that I actually cried while reading your posting.  You deserve the very best for all of your hard work and your generous, humble and gentle soul!  I love you so much, and Uncle Ted and I and all your Ellis cousins wish you the very very best!  Have fun sweetheart!  All is well at home!

All my love,
Aunt Di-Di

#2. Posted by Maria Manrique de Henning on March 31, 2015

How amazing!
We are delighted tto witness from the distance (very long) your days full of learning, unusual work and routines, incredible sightings and adventures beautifully narrated. Thanks for transporting us a little bit into your awesome journey.
Definetely an unforgettable one!
Hats off to all of you.
Love to my Maria.

Maria Manrique de Henning

#3. Posted by Paul Chomiak on April 13, 2015

Congratulations on your journey and experience.  I appologize for missing this post as I have followed all the posts and plotted your journey.  Your description of piloting the Seamans brought back a memory of your first time at the helm of our boat in Annapolis when you an I would head out to catch the sunrise on the Chesapeake Bay.  I am so proud of your aspirations and am happy that you are reaching your goals while enjoying the opportunity of a lifetime.

May your sails stay tight and your journey continue to be safe!

Love, Dad



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