Ready for an adventure with a purpose? Request info »
  • Search SEA Semester, Summer and High School Programs

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 30, 2017

Stanford@SEA: Perspectives of Palmerston Island

Hanna, Stanford


Photos: Stanford@SEA

A special little moment from May 26th thrown in:

May 26th 2017, Time: 1730

Perspectives from aloft:

I started this blog after spending an afternoon looking at the ocean from a slightly different perspective than I've become accustomed to on board Mama Seamans. After getting trained in the protocols of 'going aloft' (which
basically means to climb up into the rigging much higher than my mom is going to be comfortable knowing about), Mike and I headed skyward for our first climb on our own. Two unidentified whales, which swam alongside us for over an hour, had interrupted afternoon class; we were determined to spot them from above.

My childhood was often plagued by the draw of high open spaces, but the reminder of the dangers that such places bring. Some of my favorite memories are of climbing oak trees with my brothers, winding through their marvelous branching mazes as we played tag on the most precarious limbs. We were always brought back down to Earth by the warnings of a loved one- Mom or Dad, who had quick tongues driven by their big hearts.

I miss leading my brothers into trouble. Whether we strayed too high in a tree or too far on our bikes, adventuring with them was one of the greatest parts of growing up. As Mike and I perch on the course yard and share
stories of our siblings back home, I can only imagine the childish joy this one spot would bring mine.

Mike and I never spotted the whales from aloft. They probably rejoined their own pods, as we were telling tales about ours. But our short hour off-deck provided me with a new perspective of the wonderful ship I get to call home, and one of the wonderful people I get to share it with. Amidst the hustle and bustle of ship life, it's sometimes hard to find time to talk individually, to learn about each other beyond Stanford@SEA. Mike and I reflected on his honors thesis and his year abroad, our siblings who will both be at Berkeley next year, and how accurately we would have to spit to hit Chris, who stands lookout on the bow below (no worries, Captain- no
spitting occurred and no lookouts were harmed). I appreciate little moments like these, with the students, professors, crew, and shipmates who keep me afloat.

May 30th 2017, Time: 1400

Perspectives of Palmerston Island:

Today we depart from Palmerston Island, an atoll in the Cook Islands inhabited by 44 people. Or is it 64? 35? Ask the different residents and you'll get a different answer each and every time. But in the end, it really doesn't matter; because the instant we stepped on shore, we were swallowed up by the overwhelming love of a people whose hearts truly know no boundaries.

They introduced us to their lives with a hospitality that I never knew existed. Upon coming ashore, we were invited to Sunday church service, to spend the night with a host family, and to get beat ~embarrassingly~ in a volleyball tournament. We toured the children's school, the solar panel site, the graveyards housing late loved ones, the pigpens and the lagoon. We ate poisson cru and drank too much tea and laughed late into the evening. We learned more in the past few days than could ever be compiled into a single blog post, but I know that we each sail away from this place, and from the people who make it the wonder that it is, with a broadened perspective waiting to be shared.

After four days and three nights spent at Palmerston, the crew of the Robert C. Seamans feels a little quieter. In our last few hours on shore, and during our leaving, people seemed a little more lost in their thoughts: their feet are still running circles around palm trees with Stephanie and James and Carly and Joy; their ears are attuned to the hymns of Sunday Church; their bellies are uncomfortably full of taro and parrotfish and coconut milk; their hearts hold on to the warm embrace of host families saying goodbye on a hot Tuesday afternoon.

Out here, I sometimes worry that the important memories I make, which will forever shape my perspectives, might get lost at sea. I worry I'm not journaling enough, I'm not taking enough photos, I'm not soaking it all in, like my dad told me to. And then I think about my afternoon aloft four days ago. It feels like years ago. I think about the friendships we made on Palmerston. They feel life-long. And as quickly as all of these moments are passing me by, it feels like every one of them is etching something into my perspective, into my person. I couldn't for the life of me tell you what that something is yet, but I have two weeks, and then a whole lifetime, to work it out.

With all the love in my salty, sandy, coconut-filled heart.

Thank you, Palmerston Island.

Categories: Robert C. Seamans, • Topics: stanford@sea  port stops  polynesia. • (0) Comments


Leave a public comment for students and crew to read when they reach their next port and have access to the internet!



Add a comment:

Notify me of follow-­up comments?

I would like SEA to keep me informed about news and opportunities.