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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

July 31, 2017


Isaac Carroo, B Watch, Rice University

Protecting the Phoenix Islands

Isaac Snorkeling

Ship's Log

Current Position
4°38.3’S x 174°24.0’W

near Nikumaroro Island

Ship’s Heading & Speed
170 degrees PSC, hove-to for science

Sail Plan
Single-reefed main, main staysail, fore staysail, jib

Clear, starry skies, 31 degrees Celsius. Easterly winds and 3 foot seas.

Souls on Board

Watching my conceptions of space change as I have spent the past three and a half weeks onboard the Robert C. Seamans has been interesting to say the least. In the beginning, I felt that my world would inevitably shrink down to a mere fraction of what it used to be, in many ways. There is the obvious physical constraint of having only 140 feet of space to walk up and down on any given day, but there was also the fact that my spheres of interaction were minimized to the 37 others on board with me and, for a few days, the people of Kanton. I felt, especially in the first week, that my entire world had been drastically downscaled and that a lot of my connections had been cut. Over the course of the trip, though, I have started to connect with the world around me in a different way. Rather than having an unlimited world sprawled out in front of me, I began to make connections to everything I could possibly reach in this smaller setting.

This most notably has happened with the people around me. I have had time to dig deep and create authentic relationships with those around me. Every day I have meaningful conversations with those around me and laugh as hard as I ever have. My shipmates all come from such different backgrounds and have a huge variety of interests, expertise, and passions, and in an environment like this one everyone’s true self shines through. It is rare to have this kind of environment, where the people we are closest with are not bounded by school, area of study, places where we live, occupations, or even roles on board the ship. The ability to go through this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with such a diverse set of shipmates is truly a gift.

I have also noticed that I am more connected with my immediate natural surroundings. Having lived in urban areas for my whole life, looking up at the sky every night here is a treat. With no light pollution for hundreds of miles in any direction, the full night sky comes out every time the sky is clear. The Milky Way shines bright every night, and every star in the sky shines bright. Shooting stars burn through the sky often; I remember one dawn watch when I was on lookout, I saw a bright orange shooting star fly through the sky, linger for just a second, and then disappear. Not only do the stars captivate me, but so does the bioluminescence that we see every night, dotting the sea below our vessel. Sometimes when we pull up buckets of water from net tows, they glow bright blue like a nightlight.

It is small wonders like these that are now a part of my everyday life that make me feel so connected to my surroundings. By trimming down the size of my world for five weeks, I have been forced to go deeper into my
present surroundings. This has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me, and has made me much more present and attentive while in this incredibly special place. Tonight we will reach Nikumaroro, our final stop in Kiribati. Land visits have been especially fun for me. Not only are they a change of pace from the usual rigidity of life at sea, but I am much more appreciative of seeing land now that I don’t see it every day. The opportunity to explore a new place is that much sweeter with that special sense of connection to my immediate surroundings. Meeting the people of Kanton was that much more enjoyable for me after seeing only water and sky for over a week. It was fun to observe that even as a person of Jamaican heritage, I can always find comfort in being with people from islands even if their island is thousands of miles away from mine. Islanders have the same heart no matter the island.

I hope to bring this connectivity back home with me in the near future. Although this trip has been amazing, I am also looking forward to what’s in store for me when the time comes to transition back into the wider world. I am hoping that I can maintain the enhanced connections that I have to my direct surroundings and spend less time looking at news, social media, and phones. While that type of broad connectivity is good in many ways,
balancing it with a deeper connection to the tangible world will be much more rewarding. Trimming breadth to create depth is a huge aim of mine once I leave the bubble of the Robert C. Seamans, and it ultimately makes my world feel more real even if it is smaller.

To everyone reading this blog thinking of your loved ones and friends on board, we’re all doing just fine. It has been a privilege to work with this group of people and observe how we grow as individuals and as a collective. To all Jamaicans out there, happy Emancipation Day! To Mom, Dad, Talia, Dele, and Kingston, I love you all and I will see all of you very soon.

- Isaac 

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s274  life at sea  study abroad • (3) Comments
Previous entry: Birthday at Sea    Next entry: Nikumaroru Atoll


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 Elinor Kuhn on August 02, 2017

I am inhaling your comments and new perspectives. You are all amazing!
I wonder if anyone has had the good fortune to see/experience the green flash around the sun as it appears over the horizon the instant of sunrise? It requires absolutely clear skies and calm waters (and perhaps binoculars).
Continued clear sailing. See you Devin. Love, O&O

#2. Posted by Elizabeth Alvanas on August 05, 2017


I loved your post! So insightful.

- Elizabeth (Kyle’s mom)

#3. Posted by Annie on August 09, 2017


You’re amazing. I’m so glad you’re my son wink

Love, Mom



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