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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

November 26, 2017

The Pinrail Chase: May the Best Watch Win!

Lindsey Call, B Watch, Amherst College

The Global Ocean

Oh no! Evening Primrose and Maddy seem to be breaking MANY of the rules put in place to keep competition fair and square! Who do YOU think came out on top in this deadly battle?!

Ship's Log

Current Position
30° 52.2’S x 178° 20.9’W

Course & Speed
Course ordered is 045, course steered is 025. Taffrail log reads 640 NM! 

Sail Plan
Continuing northwards along the Kermadec Ridge towards Raoul Island

Sunny and warm!   

Souls on Board

Greetings from aboard the Robert C. Seamans, which is currently sailing northwards along the Kermadec Ridge! We were blessed with wonderfully sunny weather today - quite a stroke of luck, as we spent part of the day on the deck of the ship. Why, you may ask? Today was the PINRAIL CHASE, a lively inter-watch competition to see which of the three watches had best mastered the ship’s lines and their locations.

First, a bit of background: the Robert C. Seamans is fitted with nine sails: the mains’l, the main stays’l, the fore stays’l, the course, the tops’l, the raffee, the fisherman’s sail, the jib tops’l, and the jib. There is also a ~secret~ 10th sail called the storm trys’l, but this sail cannot be put into action while the other nine are in use due to limited space. Each of these sails is set, struck, and adjusted using a series of attached lines, of which there are many types. Halyards are used to raise the sail, sheets are used to adjust the tension on the sail, jiggers help to raise the sail the last few feet of the way, inhauls and outhauls slide the sheets of some sails between the port and starboard sides of the ship, downhauls bring the sail down, braces adjust the angle of the yard to the mast, and gantl’ns serve no purpose in regards to the sails. In addition to these main types of lines, there are also a few others that I will not describe here for the sake of brevity. As you can see, there are a lot of types of lines- and each of the 9 sails has many associated lines. MORAL OF THE STORY: there are lots of lines aboard the Robert C. Seamans! 84 of them, if you insist upon a numerical total.

Each of these lines has a specific name and designated location on the boat’s pinrails. In order to be an able seaman, it is crucial to know the names and locations of all the ship’s lines by heart in order to easily find them and correctly manipulate them while adjusting the sails. Over the past few weeks, it has been our duty as students to learn our lines. Memorizing 84 lines is no easy task, and many creative methods were implemented by the S-276 students in order to burn the pinrail diagram into our brains. Quizzes, countless rounds of deck, illustrations, mnemonics, rhymes…. the list goes on. Countless hours must have been spent! And today, during the Pinrail Chase, this knowledge was to be tested.

The Pinrail Chase took the form of a relay competition between watches, during which each team was to correctly find and identify every line on the ship. However, there were a few simple rules:

  1. No working together - each individual was responsible for identifying their own assigned lines.
  2. No running - violators would be forced to crabwalk along deck for several rounds!
  3. This was to be a non-contact competition, so hip-checking, pushing, or blocking were not allowed (this as quite disappointing to me - Mom and Dad, you know that my HS basketball hip-checking skills would have been put to excellent use!)
  4. Positive encouragement only!
  5. Another type of line - a pickup line - was heavily encouraged in order to garner the judge’s favor.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN! May the best watch win, whether it be A, B, or C. Oh, excuse me - I meant to say “Argh watch”, “Bay watch”, and “C-booger” watch. Don’t ask me about the names - I really have no idea. The competition that ensued was lively, dynamic, and fun, with lots of cheering, encouragement between watches, and incredibly cheesy pick-up lines. At the end, the margin between winning and losing was incredibly small between all three watches, but “C-booger watch” ended up winning by a hair’s breadth. Unfortunately, my watch (B-watch) lost, but it wasn’t our fault: Katie got caught in the most treacherous of lines aboard the ship - a discombobulated, celebratory conga line as performed by C-watch.

Even though some watches came out of the Pinrail Chase on top and others came out on the bottom, the most important result from today was that all members of class S-276 displayed that they knew their lines and knew them well. As we go forward with our voyage and continue to learn how to sail, this knowledge will prove itself to be invaluable.

- Lindsey

P.S. To Mom, Dad, and Lauren: just wanted to throw in a quick hello! I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving - I miss you a lot, but I’m having so much fun and learning so much! I can’t wait to call you and tell you all about it when we get to Napier. ALSO, I didn’t get seasick! Booyah! Love you lots and talk soon.


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