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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

June 02, 2020

Talking Trash

Helen Dufel, Assistant Scientist


Above: Tristan and Helen doing the 'egg dance' on the quarter deck as we pass 1000 miles since Hawaii; Below: Hilary and Henry during golden hour.

Ship's Log

Noon position
36 11.0’N x 148 49.4’W

Ship’s Heading

Ship’s Speed
6.9 kts

Days underway and Trip log since Honolulu
Day 8, 1167 nm

Weather/Wind/Sail Plan
Foggy and misty, Wind SSW force 3, Motor sailing under the Jib, fore stays’l, and main stays’l

Description of Location
In a cloud along the Eastern edge of the Great Garbage Patch

I bet you are thinking to yourself. "Self, after 55 days on board (most of them at sea) what could the crew possibly be talking about at this point?" (Copyright @ Chris Nolan)

I'm here to answer that question. We talk about the weather, the shapes we see in the clouds, the books we are reading, and spend hours musing over what might be for dinner. But when we aren't talking about the normal day to day, things can get pretty interesting.

For the last four days the weather has been a dismal to say the least. The sky is gray the ocean is gray, the wind is still and the seas are calm. We motor along at night talking about how spooky the ship has become. With little else to keep our minds busy and after a long dawn watch, Ella and I came up with a plan for what we would do if a giant pirate ship with black sails emerged from the thick fog and wondered if the one beam of light that pierced through the blanket of clouds was really the first light of day or if the aliens had finally found us.

We also have heated debates over how many days that flying fish has been in the scupper, which brand of peanut butter is best and hypothetical 'Would You Rather' scenarios such as "would you rather give up pasta or bread for the rest for your life." I said I would give up bread, I know it's an unpopular opinion, but I'm sticking to my guns.

We often discuss what Henry's (the engineer) day looks like since he is the only one on board still affected by what day of the week it is. Tuesday is electrical day, Friday is outboard day and so on. The roar of the outboard engine reminds the rest of us that the days have names at all.

A big topic of conversation lately has been the endless plastic and debris that drift by the ship. We are only on the edge of the great garbage patch, but the refuse is constant. It's a fun game to identify it all as it slips by, large fishing nets, lots of buoys, a plastic water bottle, an old wicker chair and don't forget the 20 ft long 3 ft wide tree with branches! Just to name a few. Also, a bottle of hand sanitizer which I find wildly ironic in this day and age of Covid.

But we aren't just talking trash, get it? We talk about serious things too like our fears and woes. What life might look like when we get to the dock in San Diego, what the uncertain future may hold, and if I've stocked enough bubbly waters so that I can have one on each afternoon watch until we get there. It's going to be close.

We discuss how wild it is that we are closer to Anchorage, Alaska right now than we are to San Diego and crazier still that I'm the tallest one on A watch. Those of you who know me know that I'm 5'4 on a good day.

And of course we talk about all of our friends and family, where they are, how they are doing. We talk about our shipmates far and wide. We talk about how much we miss our friends who left us in Hawaii and wonder how they are transitioning back into the real world. We share stories from voyages we have done in the past and recount days from this journey that will stay with us forever.

Anyway, I hope I have made at least some of you smile with this strange blog post in a time where everyone needs a laugh now and again and a bit of good news. The ship is keeping our bodies busy and our imaginations are occupying our minds. We are doing well and getting closer every day!

- Helen Dufel, Assistant Scientist/ S290T Watch Stander

Editor's Note: In response to the coronavirus pandemic, all SEA Semester students departed our ships on or before March 18, with modifications made to the cruise tracks to ensure swift travel home.  A small, dedicated professional crew aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans is working in a closed community to return the ship to California. The crew complied with New Zealand's 14 day self-isolation period to establish & maintain crew health prior to departing on their open ocean passage.

Categories: Robert C. Seamans, • Topics: s290t  pacific crossing 2020 • (1) Comments


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 Sharon Bonner on June 03, 2020

Happy Birthday to Rocky on Tuesday June 9.



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