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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

July 16, 2016

Thoughts from the Bowspirit

Alexandra Bonecutter, C Watch, Stony Brook University

Protecting the Phoenix Islands

Tuna Chrissy displays a petri dish containing what we believed at the time to be a cephalopod; what is actually a heteropod was plucked from the sieve of biomass in my hands.

Ship's Log

Noon Position
1° 28.7’ S x 170° 24.7’ W

Description of location
44.1 nm into the Phoenix Islands Protected Area

Ship Heading

Ship Speed
8.0 kt

Taffrail Log
1550 nm

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Currently drizzling with little winds; motor sailing on a port tack under the staysails and main.

Souls on Board

Two weeks since the forty souls on board this ship have laid eyes on land; not long now until we arrive upon the shores of the island of Kanton.

Indeed, last night we entered the Phoenix Islands Protected Area soon after crossing the equator, leaving behind the oceanic desert of the mid-Pacific and nearing an “Underwater Eden...”

While on watch, the position of the lookout offers an isolation that is unique aboard this ship. Standing at the bow and separated from the rest, one is left with the company of the expanse of waves rolling beneath our feet, and whatever the sky above has to offer. During dawn watch, between the hours of 0100 and 0700, sometimes it feels as though we are sailing through the stars themselves, as the sky is mirrored by bioluminescent organisms startled in the jostled waters crashing against our hull. Many of the words that come and go along the lookout hour never make it to the page; and one afternoon I was inspired to continue to send my thoughts to the waves. This time, however, alongside the thoughts of my fellow crewmates. I asked everyone to write something; anything they wished upon a page I had left alongside the navigation charts in the doghouse.

With the assistance of the Captain in acquiring a worthy bottle (one that once held a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon), a Message from the SSV Robert C. Seamans was sealed. I tossed our words into the ether with a bioluminescent splash at around 0430 Friday morning, just as our latitudinal countdown hit all zeros.

For those of you back home who expressed concern for us Vegans along our prolonged voyage within a closed system across the Pacific, worry not! On those exceptionally clear nights, the constellation Lyra is illuminate against the darkness, with Vega bright at her bowspirit. In fact, my fellow Vegan JB and I enjoyed our dinners from the portside rail beneath a healthy moon so bright she seemed to be competing with the noonday sun. Also significant is the cluster of stars known as the Pleiades. The folklore around this constellation is relatively constant throughout a number of ancient civilizations. When we feel the weight of silent distance, the constellations appear to bring solace in their collective detachment.

Since we entered the borders of PIPA, the science-ing aboard has started increasing in excitement and intensity. This morning, my fellow C-Watch members and I completed a double jibe to heave-to for a full science station which included a hydrocast, tucker trawl and neuston net deployments. I spent the majority of the tail-end of watch sifting through the biomass samples from both net trawls, mouth agape in awe and graciousness of where I am here and now. Peering into the sieve full of tiny zooplankton, crustaceans, and gelatinous beings, I wondered how alien we must appear. Scooped from their home by our ‘Unidentified Floating Object,’ I was reminded of my own childhood dreams of aliens and their possible curiosity for small beings like me…

We venture forward. Driven by instinctual curiosity, I continue to come to terms with my own conflicts of interest; just as I continue to draw inspiration and conviction from the blue in both the waters and the skies as they envelope us, for what appears to be a glimpse into eternity.

I am continuously sending my positive energy, love, and appreciation to so very many of you back at home in the States, just as I am drawing the same from you all. Know that I am well and looking forward to seeing each of you again soon.

Ever yours,

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Protecting the Phoenix Islands, • Topics: s268  phoenix islands  science  research • (3) Comments
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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 Jennifer on July 19, 2016

That’s my girl!  Science the **** out of it.

#2. Posted by mxwll on July 29, 2016

makingwaves! had to come back and read this for the tenth time. this post is everything. keep it real out there..

#3. Posted by Jennifer on September 02, 2016

Still watching for that bottle.  Given the current weather going on here in Florida, I expect to see it on my doorstep today.



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