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
March 01, 2016
The Foulies Emerge from Hibernation
38°31.8’ S x 179°14.7’ E
Course and Speed
Steering 185 PSC at 6.5 knots
Our two stays’ls and the storm trys’l
Angry gray skies and angrier grayer seas
After two weeks of clear sailing and fair winds, the Robert C. Seamans is in the midst of her first batch of rough weather. Strong headwinds and a big southern swell developed sometime late last night; I got a firsthand experience of it standing lookout as the winds whipped around me and every thirty seconds I travelled a good fifteen feet through the air. By the time I went back on watch at 1300 today, the ride was even rougher. Everyone has been trudging around in their rubber foulies (the nickname for foul weather gear)—after two weeks tucked away in the closet, we had almost forgotten about them.
In the lab, we tried to process samples from the surface station while getting thrown about as the ship pitched from side to side. I worked on the 100-count of zooplankton from the 1200 neuston tow, keeping my eyes glued to the dissecting microscope identifying and counting snails, copepods, and even a few belligerent isopods that kept trying to escape my petri dish. The enclosed space of the lab and the smell of chemicals can really get to you after a while—our less fortunate comrade had a reprise of yesterday’s seasickness after only an hour or two. Even my own seemingly iron stomach was tested today and we all took some lengthy breaks to get some fresh air on deck.
But the deck was the place to be. As our first mate told us, today we got a taste of real sailing—along with plenty of salty seawater to the face. The waves were a good 10-15 feet high for most of the day, and the wind was strong enough that the rain felt more like hail. Our lookout was moved off from the bow to the forward edge of the quarterdeck, because standing on the foredeck was a good guarantee of a full-body drenching every minute or so. The waves were crashing on the front and the sides of the ship, with the occasional one making its way up and soaking those of us on the quarterdeck.
With the rough conditions, we rigged up a lifeline along the rail so that people could clip their harnesses into the ship as they walked or stood on deck. This is all to say: it was awesome. Once I got out of the lab and my face got less green, I was pretty much just along for the ride, getting some serious airtime as the ship rode through the raging seas. As if it couldn’t get any better, at one point a pod of dolphins swam alongside us, leaping through the swells and cheering up even our most vomit-y members. Every time an especially energetic wave made it over the side, we would all exclaim with excitement and glee as we got splashed. Even now, as I write this, I can see the water splashing against the porthole window and hear the loud crash of the ship into the sea. But with a steady hand on the helm and a keen eye to the horizon, the Bobby C. journeys on.
Your salty waterlogged sailor,
P.S. Hi friends and family and puppy! Grandma, I finally read House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, as you’ve been telling me to do for three years. I loved it and cried a lot and have already passed it along to my assistant scientist to read next—thank you for your impeccable taste in books. And happy almost 93rd birthday, Grandpa!