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
June 07, 2017
Stanford@SEA: Arrival at the Kingdom of Tonga
After 7 days at sea (8 if you go by the calendar), we have reached The Kingdom of Tonga. The ship's calendar shifted at midnight and, just like that, June 6th never happened on the Robert C. Seamans. However, as some other posts have touched on, time morphs into a bizarre animal when rotating through watches, weather conditions, and the ocean's restless motion. In the last week we have lost our wits in lab during dawn watches, struck and re-set the same 5 sails over and over, motored over the doldrums, and experienced a new side of sailing as Junior Watch Officers. The standard 7-day week does not make the seafaring life justice by any means; what seemed like a bittersweet goodbye at Palmerston is now a hazy memory left behind the 10 watches we have stood, the fresh sushi, the midnight cookies, and the Field Day ice cream. This ominous stretch of open-ocean sailing had been looming in the back of our heads since day 1, and now that we've sailed out of the South Pacific Gyre and into highly biologically-productive waters I think of it as an outlier in my life-a period of undetermined time (by usual notion) in which I was completely isolated with 38 of my shipmates in the middle of the vast Pacific ocean. It was a true delight to be so ever-present, and it was a true challenge to appreciate the uniqueness of each waning moment.
But everything must come to an end, and in the last 24 hours we had our stress levels increase logarithmically as the latest details of our final 10 days aboard the ship were relayed to us. With conservation dialogues, book reviews, leading watches, and finishing the collection, analysis, and write-up of our projects in our future, the next leg of our voyage now carries a previously unexpected weight with it. In addition, the anticipation of landfall and going ashore at another new, completely different island has been building and, as we sit in the dock waiting to be released into Nuku'alofa's streets, peaked. The Kingdom of Tonga, one of the few nations in the Pacific Ocean that has never been colonized by the West, lies right past our gangway. We will be exploring its capital city until tomorrow morning, when we will depart for Vava'u, anchoring at night in a couple of the archipelago's 171 islands.
If you ask anyone on board, any given day, watch, or single duty at sea will seem to drag on forever or go by quickly depending on what that person's mood is like. Today, however, time is shifting back into normal as we step on Tongan soil, and a new dimension of our trip will begin, if only for the 20 hours we are docked in Nuku'alofa. Rest assured that we'll make the most of it.