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SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans
April 27, 2017
Taking a Step Back Into the Present
Force 4 winds coming from the east. Cumulus clouds covering 3/8ths of the sky. Seas 4ft from ExS. Barometer: 1016.0
Sailing under mains’l, main & forestays’ls, jib, tops’l, and fish.
"STRIKE EVERYTHING!!! SET THE RAFFEEE!! DEPLOY THAT NEUSTON BOOM AND GET THAT NET IN THE WATER!!" The mutiny on the Seamans unfolded. Every sail came down at once and Captain Jay watched in horror as the magnificent sail was hoisted way up like a magical pair of underwear before being flipped up into "party hat mode." With just this small triangular "square sail" we would sail a perfect 2 knots required for the neuston net tow. Right as the Raffee was reaching the pinnacle of its glory a gust of wind came along and notified me that we would be having a watch meeting in five minutes.
I woke up falling slightly out of my bed. That alone was enough to tell me that we were sailing on a starboard tack. I briefly recalled my dream involving the lone raffee on the Robert C. Seamans, and how I would convince Captain Jay to sail a "raffee tow," but forgot about it quickly, as there were more important things to do, for example, finding out what time it was (I would figure out what day it was later).
It was Anna's turn to be JWO (junior watch officer) and at turnover she took the deck and did a spectacular job doing what the mate does. Lately in A watch, extra attention has been given to sail trim, as we try to unravel the mysteries and physics behind making the sails cooperate wind the wind. Today there was a new sail plan that had not been previously used. Not only were we sailing under a full rigged mains'l, both stays'ls, the jib, and the tops'l, but we ended up setting the "fish" along with it. This gave us one of the most powerful sail plans we've used on this voyage so far, allowing us to sail at 7.5 knots in a 15 knot breeze after some adjustments to sail trimming. Class today began with staring intently at a cloud, before we were all distracted by a fish pretending to bite the hook.
Today I finally saw some more people climb aloft, some even to the top of the foremast. The realization that it was indeed the 27th likely woke them up to the fact that the opportunity to do the things we do on the Seamans would only last for about another week or so, and despite projects and research presentations coming up, students were able to find the time to do things such as enjoy the sunset out on the head rig, where the only thing between you and the blue Gatorade colored ocean is a net.
As time begins catching up to us, we realize the importance of knowing what it is that we want to get out of this voyage. Yes, there is an insane amount of things that need to be accomplished. Projects, reports, watches, this, that, the other thing. but that won't change, ever. Perhaps the most important thing we will learn from the last week of the voyage is knowing when to take a step back from things that need to be done, and enjoying what's in the present. After all, the present isn't guaranteed in the future, and for us, the "present" will only last for a little while longer.
Trivial things I've learned so far along this trip.
- When waiting out a cyclone. nope wait, "remnants of a cyclone," things will fly across the main saloon. This includes bagged food and as well as people.
- Your headlamp will never be around when you need it.
- There are actually 18 hours in a day.
- When turning over dawn watch to B watch, their arrival will always be signified a brief squall, which despite its short presence has no trouble at all soaking you down to your socks five minutes before you plan to sleep.
- The waves are about 6 feet bigger than you think they are.
- Jibing with just the stays'ls is possible, yet agonizingly slow.
- The galley will always surprise you. During my stewarding day sushi came into existence (Later that day a blue fin tuna was caught).
Dear mom, I know you have probably been worried by the fact that we keep getting chased by every tropical storm in the south pacific but fear not, there are no more storms (knocks on pixelated wood). And when I get home, from now on, nothing gets started on a Friday.
P.S. To any who don't understand the JWO phase, you essentially become the mate on deck. Your responsibilities become as heavy as the ship itself, but as everyone who goes through it finds out, you are indeed strong enough to carry a ship weighing many tons. There are many tasks delegated to the JWO, but it can be summed up in this sentence. Lead your watch team to sail the ship mostly unaided across the Pacific Ocean and prevent any disasters.