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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

October 29, 2018

Stepping up and Stepping Back

Rachel Scudder, Chief Scientist


Teamwork keeps the ship running.

Ship's Log

Current Position
29 13.118’S 173 49.415’E

Ship’s Heading & Speed

180, 5.1 knots

Wind WSW Force 6, Partly Cloudy 21C

Souls on board

As we move in to the last full week of the sailing component of the SPICE program I've been thinking a lot about a leadership training term that has stuck with me for quite some time. The idea of stepping up and stepping back. Generally it means knowing when to give others the space to share ideas or experience with a group and when you may need to take the lead even if it's uncomfortable. With the Junior Watch Officer (JWO) phase of our trip now underway it's something that I've enjoyed watching our students learn to do. JWO (and its lab equivalent JLO) gives the running of the deck (or the lab) over to the students. The mates and assistant scientists are still there, and will step in if someone is putting the ship or its crew in danger, but is not allowed to answer questions or give advice. It asks the students to rely on their shipmates and their own knowledge and intuition built up over the last five or so weeks to steer, manage sail handling, do hourly boat checks, wake ups, etc. There are a lot of moving parts to keep

in mind and the JWO must be able to step back and keep an eye on the big picture. It's a hard thing to do, but so far our students have shown themselves to be capable of handling it. It has been so rewarding to watch them work as a team and support each other as they each step up to be the JWO in turn. Though some of them might like to think otherwise, no one of our students knows how to do every task that is required throughout a 6 hour watch so knowing when to step back and ask for help of their watch mates is a crucial skill and one that everyone has to undertake at some point. Of course mistakes are made, but everyone is supportive and the discussions after between the watch provide learning opportunities for everyone of what not to do when it is their turn as JWO.

As someone who's job is to be looking at the big picture I've been consistently impressed with how far every one of them has come since the beginning of this trip. In five short weeks they've come from maybe not knowing how to sail at all to running the show and doing it remarkably well. Both on deck and in the lab the commitment to helping each other learn and grow is wonderful to see. I know that I am so lucky to have the chance to get to know this wonderful group of humans and to see them become leaders on this ship. I hope that this experience will stick with them as they move forward in their lives and that they will remember the lesson of stepping up and stepping back.

- Rachel Scudder, Chief Scientist

Previous entry: Music on board    Next entry: An Introduction to Sea Legs


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 Lisa Lavin on October 30, 2018

Hi Ryan,

TRICK or TREAT !!!!!

LAND AHOY !!!!! YAHOOOO can’t wait to see you.


#2. Posted by Jan Lavin on October 30, 2018

Hi Ryan

Time sure has gone by quickly. I can only imagine how much that you have learned while on this voyage. The skills that you have been taught and the friendships that you have made will carry on with you for the rest of your life. I have been a very proud parent to watch you on your progress throughout the semester at sea. I am sure that you are looking forward to arriving in Auckland. In only a couple of weeks or so we will be able to catch up. I think I hear Starbuck’s calling us right now for a coffee stop. Have a safe rest of the trip and I will talk to you soon.


#3. Posted by Christine Ohman on November 01, 2018

Hi Therese. Hope you enjoyed your JWO time. Sound thrilling to have that experience. I am reading the blogs daily , love following you as you learn and grow through all your adventures. Not always making comments but sure want you to know that you are in our thoughts daily.We will chat when you land in Auckland.lots of love. Mum ,xxxxx



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