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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

November 23, 2016

Shooting the moon! And sun! And stars! And even some planets!

David “Rocky” Bonner III, C Watch, 3rd Mate

Ocean Exploration

Ilana shoots venus while the sun sets, with a poetry circle in the background for good measure.

Ship's Log

Current Position
30°55.1’S x 178°19.2’E

Ship’s Heading & Speed
000° at 4kt

Sail Plan
Main, main stays’l, fore stays’l, jib, and fisherman stays’l.

ENE winds and seas at force 4 and 4 ft respectively. Mostly clear skies with scattered cumulus as the center of a high pressure system passes over us.

Souls on Board

Today those of us on C watch had the morning watch. It was a comfortable 19°C as we took the deck with beautiful clear skies. For me, and for most of the rest of the watch, the theme of the day has been celestial navigation.

We were fortunate to have a lovely crescent moon high in the clear sky upon taking the watch, not to mention the sun itself. This gave us an excellent opportunity to get a two-body celestial fix. Fairly shortly after getting settled in, Yen and Kate grabbed some sextants and shot the sun and the moon. Hearts players beware, they both shoot the moon like pros. We had a few interruptions to handle sail in order to get on station for our science deployments. The winds had been light and we’d used the d-s’l through the night, but they picked up enough for us to set our jib and trim the stays’ls to sail. During our science station (we deployed the normal spread of a phyto net, secci disk, carosel, and a neuston tow) Yen and Kate learned how to plot their fixes on universal plotting sheets and then we took the best one, Yen’s, to put on our actual chart.

But wait! There’s more! Not to be outdone, and unsatisfied with a sun shot that was a mere 10 miles off the mark, Kate decided to shoot another fix for us. The moon was getting lower, but it was still there for us. Once we got off station and were towing the net, she fixed our location within 3 miles of the electronics. With accuracy like that, who even needs the electronics. Not us! That’s who. Which is why we aren’t using them.

During class we had a presentation about how our variable pitch propeller works, how our Racor filters work, and some great creature features. We learned about the Light Mantled Albatross, who has a 10-15ft wingspan and only lays one egg every two years. We also learned about two of the tiny terrors of the ocean: hyperid amphipod and the stomatopod. Amphipods were the inspiration for the alien in Aliens. They are fond of crawling inside of salps to use as home, where they then lay their eggs. Eventually, the eggs hatch and eat their way out. We sometimes collect the larval form of stomatopods otherwise known as mantis shrimp, the murderous clowns of the ocean. These little monsters, upon growing up, gain the ability to punch so hard that they generate a tiny gas bubble from the water in front of their appendage. Their punches accelerate as fast as a .22 caliber bullet, and if humans had equivalent strength to a mantis shrimp, we might be able to throw a baseball into orbit. They also have cool eyes. Check them out online. Seriously. I recommend The Onion’s article about them, or if you prefer videos, Ze Frank’s “True Facts about the Mantis Shrimp.” Note- not all facts are true. For class proper, we shook out the reef from our mains’l and set it in its full glory.

After class, the rest of C watch was not to be outdone by Yen and Kate. Each in turn picked up their sextants to shoot the sun, and each then plotted their success. Fortunately for me, I was able to teach them how to do their plots in three sessions rather than six. Now, after completing a full navigator’s solar day, it is time to get some sleep while B watch takes care of tonight’s star frenzy.

- Rocky

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Ocean Exploration, • Topics: s270  celestial navigation  science • (1) 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 Tanya Belz Rauzi on November 28, 2016

Love all the posts!  Is there any way that someone can list who is on what watch?  I keep seeing A, B and C Watch but am not sure who is in which group.  Thanks!  Tanya (Dominic’s mom)



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