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 08, 2015
Steering & Shipmates
18°47.7 N x 158°54 W
Winds E 7-10 knots
The day was introduced to me by a soft voice telling of a strong breeze and cloudy stars. Water swirled in and out of the porthole above my bunk as I secured a harness around my waist and climbed the pitching stairs to be given responsibility. In a rapidly-passing four-hour dawn watch, there is much to be done; I took the helm, hands twirling a classic wooden-spoked steering wheel, pulling 180° on the swaying compass towards center-line. The Robert C. Seamans tilts slightly towards starboard side, evidence of the winds propelling our sashaying swell and fall through the warm Pacific waters that occasionally spray playfully over the rail.
A new friend appeared by my side before I had the chance to tire. I relayed the ordered course to him and stood on the other side of the wheel to transfer my burgeoning understanding; Only an hour ago, I watched the ordered course swing uncontrollably out of reach, first left, then right, left, right. The boat pitched slightly more than usual as my muscles struggled to understand the forces at play. I felt a sense of growing camaraderie as my shipmate uneasily took the wheel, looking to me for guidance that I was able to confidently give.
As my comrade began to twirl the wheel with pride, pitching slowed; I stepped away from the helm and climbed below deck to check for anything astray. Rocking hallways passed me by bunks filled with precious sleeping bodies, resting safely and assuredly as my watch keeps vigil. All seeming in place, I sunk further into the ship’s engine room. The smell of grease reminds me of home; every time I descend into the warm bowel of the ship which holds the generators, controls, dials, and tools, my big brother’s presence fills my head. Without an old familiar face in sight, it is good to have memories of family and friends to return to.
All bilges empty of water and all machines operating well within safe boundaries, I climb back into the fresh, moving air and am told to relieve the lookout. I post myself at the head of the ship and watch the blue world. With no storms brewing or ships approaching, I stare out into the encompassing horizon looking for the a flash of orange or flare that might come from some other stranded mariners, but I end up having only the dizzy tracks of sweeping shearwaters to keep me company. The sun lightens the dark blue slowly into shades of yellow, warming up the sky for the emergence and rapid ascent of the glorious sun, burning furiously behind the ship.
As the 0700 hour approaches, a member of another watch seamlessly takes post as lookout, and I am free to stare over the side at the deep, yet strangely luminescent blue water, so beautiful a shade, with glowing yellow skipping across the pattern of flowing water. The boat parts the waves, whitecaps dissipate with a hiss reminiscent of soda settling, mats of bubbles float away as the ship sails steadily towards our mystical destination. For now, it will be only this infinitesimal, hospitable pocket of intelligence and will, floating across this lonely, majestic plane, unnoticed.