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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

May 22, 2017

Stanford@SEA: Somewhere in the Big Blue

Natasha Batista, Stanford


Photos: Stanford@SEA


This morning I woke up after a full(er) night of sleep and could feel a slight ache in every muscle in my body. Every action we do on the ship has our bodies working, whether it's walking across the deck or even sitting to read. After a week though our bodies feel stronger and our balance is better. No wonder we are so ravenous all the time. But, as Captain Pamela says, the sweetest nectar a sailor can get is sleep. Between the swaying of the ship and anchor drops, I think I can now sleep through anything!

With the 18-hour watch schedule, our sleeping patterns are always in flux, but it's allowed us to appreciate all times of day. Being on watch during the morning and afternoon when you can clearly see Robby C, the ocean, and the sunset is fantastic. We are completely surrounded by water, with nothing but the puffy clouds and occasional tropic bird over our heads, the sun baking our skin to nice golden browns (or some tomato reds), a few sea creatures jumping out of the ocean, and the entire crew busy at work aboard the Robby C. In my opinion however, the evening and dawn watch hours bring about the true magic: the stars. Clear skies sprinkled with brilliant stars is a truly spectacular site. The Milky Way will stretch over our heads, Scorpio flies through the sky, the Southern Cross helps us with navigation, Jupiter shines bright behind us, and once in a while a shooting star or satellite will dance through the celestial realm. Our TA Ben pointed out that every time the ship rolls upward it feels like we are going to launch into space. Sometimes I feel like Peter Pan about to jump into another adventure-"Second star on the right and straight off to Neverland!" Even better is when we see speckles of green-blue bioluminescence in the wake of the ship; it's as though the stars are both high above us and in the watery realm below.

That's not to say the evening watches can't be a little rough. We spent a couple days in a squall before reaching Isle Maria, which really keeps you on your toes at night. I've never felt more like a salty sailor than when I was at the helm at 0400, steering through rainy Beaufort 6, gusting 7, winds and 10 foot waves. It's nerve racking because you can't see well but also exhilarating getting a taste of both the wind and ocean's great strength. And with Watch C diligently handling the ship and our mate Rocky calmly and carefully guiding us, it's hard to have any fear of the weather. As Andrea would say, we all still have salty sweet smiles. 

In the meantime, we're steadily approaching Rarotonga, our second island stop and the first one where we will meet new people. We will be staying in the harbor for 3 days, and the ship is open to officials who will come on board to do inspection for any biohazards, as well as the general public to see what our ship life looks like. In preparation for our guests, we had our first field day, which is the once-a-week full clean up of the ship. You could hear several "Swab the deck, Mate-ys!" floating around as we brought our sea fairing home into ship-shape.

After the 1.5 hour frenzy of everyone cleaning and wiping and scrubbing every nook and cranny on board, we were met with a special treat: ice cream and a fire hose shower. The ice cream was the perfect sweet treat to offset the heat and the showers were appreciably timed to clean off our sweaty selves. The mates hosed us with seawater on the science deck as the sun began to dip close to the horizon-talk about great water pressure. Deck showers are by the far the superior showers, and what makes cleaning even easier is having less hair (look mom, no hair!)

At this moment, Chris, Mike, Marianne, Sierra, and myself are the brave few that decided leave traces of our eDNA in the sea via, well, all our hair. We are sporting exciting 1-inch cuts (in my case, 1/8th of an inch, I'm basically bald), and everyone looks fabulous. Everyone keeps going around petting each other's heads to appreciate its new soft, stubbly feel. These hairstyles also require no maintenance, which allows us to now say 'I woke up like this.' The feeling of the sun, wind, and rain on your scalp is truly amazing, as though that skin is experiencing the sense of touch for the first time. Having almost no hair is also very liberating in its own sense and it seems like you can really see people's faces because all of their beautiful features are shining through, unmasked. I'm looking forward to seeing whose hair walks the plank next!

Categories: Robert C. Seamans, • Topics: stanford@sea  life at sea • (0) Comments


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