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
December 03, 2015
The Boat Makes Everything an Adventure!
14° 51.5’ N x 046° 08.9’ W
Hello, everybody! Greetings from atop the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. We're pretty much in the middle, now: halfway(ish) through the ocean, and halfway through our trip. We plot our position on a chart every hour, but it's hard to get a conceptual sense of exactly how "in the middle of the ocean" we are.
The quarter deck on Cramer is about 12 feet above the horizon. This means we can see about 4.2 miles in any direction, giving us a 55-square-nautical-mile bubble of existence. This bubble moves across identical ocean, without landmarks to tell us how far we have come. Knowing how much time has passed could help us, but even this gets confusing at sea. Our crazy schedule of watch rotations means you never fall into a rhythm of day and night; you sleep three times as often but for a fraction as long as on land; you're awake at midnight but asleep at 13:00 one day, and then staying up until 3:00am and sleeping until 11:00am the next. As time and sight are useless, I've done some simple math to try and help visualize how far we have come.
As of noon today, we had sailed a total of 1728.6 nautical miles. There are 6,076 feet in a nautical mile, meaning we have traveled about 10,502,973 feet through the water, on a ship that is 134 feet long. This puts us at a distance traveled of 78,380 Corwith Cramers! And we have about 45,343 Cramers to go before we reach Dominica. On the following scale of dashes, one dash represents about 1000 Corwith Cramers. You're going to need to zoom in to see the ship and all of us on it: we are 1/1000th (!!) the size of those dashes, floating right at the forward slash:
One tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny boat in the middle of a LOT of water. Anyway, if that sounds like an adventure, you're right! It is! But the great thing about life at sea is: the boat makes everything an adventure! Even things you thought you were good at on land, like sleeping and showering, become much more exciting out here. Here are some adventures we have in our 134-foot world afloat in the Atlantic:
An adventure in language
Floor becomes sole, walls become bulkheads, ceilings become overheads, bathrooms become heads, kitchens become galleys, beds become racks, on and on and on ad infinitum.
An adventure in cooking
Once when I was in the galley, Morgan the Amazing Steward asked me to guard the salad. Salad guards are not necessary on land. On land, salads just sit where you put them. Don't even get me started on soup.
An adventure in eating
With our gimbaled tables, you regularly watch your food and table come towards your face at an angle exceeding 30 degrees. You don't even blink.
An adventure in science
If you think filling a 100mL volumetric flask so the meniscus is perfectly aligned with your mark is a challenge on land, you should try it while sailing downwind in the North Equatorial Current on a tall ship. It is an exercise in repetition and patience.
An adventure in movement
Everyone is covered in minor bruises. You can't just stand around without holding on. You're constantly bracing against bulkheads or rails, balancing against the pitch and roll. You're constantly knocking into things. You can't walk straight. When you are filling a volumetric flask, you are also anchoring yourself with one hip against the counter and the other leg stretched out behind you, and leaning against the nearest bulkhead. One of my favorite images of ship life is the post-meal cleanup, when everyone has their hands full of dishes to clear and they all pause at once in various yoga-like positions to wait out a swell.
Even ordinary tasks become extraordinary at sea. The boat makes everything an adventure!
Anyway, I think I have written too much already so I'll sign off now. Mom, Dad, Tommy, Charles, Libby: I love you all so much! You'll hear loads more about these adventures when I see you at the end of the month, and I can't wait for all the coming adventures we'll share ? Love you!!