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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

February 25, 2019

VolcaNO Place I’d Rather Be

Hannah Gottesman, C Watch, Cornell University


Whakaari/White Island.

Ship's Log

Current Position
Tauranga Harbor, 37°39.866’S x 176°10.671’E

Ship’s Heading & Speed
Anchored near Mount Maunganui

Wind SE, Force 2; Seas SE, calm; Partly cloudy, cumulus

Souls on board

According to my watch, it’s Monday, so I hope everyone had a nice weekend.  Sunday on the Robert C. Seamans was spent sailing around Whakaari, an active volcano.  That morning, having slept through breakfast after midwatch, I woke up to the sight of Whakaari framed by my bunk’s porthole. It looked like an enormous stone bowl looming out of the water.  Patches of green covered portions of its rocky slopes and traces of yellow sulphur were visible from the ship. Called White Island by James Cook, the volcano pours out white clouds and, for those nearby, the smell of sulfur. Now uninhabited, Whakaari was used in the past as a sulfur mine until an accident took the lives of ten workers.  Today, the volcano’s only human contact is with visiting tourists.  C Watch had the lucky opportunity to furl the jib while taking in the awe-inspiring view.  It was an amazing moment.  We stood out on the headrig and flopped on top of the sail like human paperweights to fold it while looking out over pure blue water to an active volcano.

Stone islands of a bird sanctuary jut out of the sea near Whakaari. From the quarterdeck, we watched lines of gannets fly above the surrounding waters and swoop single-file behind swells before soaring back up.  A curious little black-beaked gull also came to visit us.  It hovered above the deck, nearly within an arm’s reach, and tilted its head, taking a good look at the inhabitants of the Bobby C.  The little guy was particularly interested in Fin, our resident bird-whisperer.

This morning, I woke up to the deafening clanging of the anchor being lowered on the other side of the steel hull. I looked out my porthole and, instead of a volcano, I saw “HAMBURG SÜD” in bold white letters on a red background, the side of a cargo ship.  We had anchored in Tauranga Harbor, a port at the base of Mount Maunganui, and the nearest to land we had been in a while. There was human activity all around: cargo ships, tugs, a sailing regatta, a lumber yard, and a truck barge named Skookum, all against the green mountain backdrop. Today was a brief break on our Wellington-bound leg. It was a day of card games, bacon piñatas (hard to explain), journaling, and relaxation. The ship’s company is taking the time anchored in calm seas to rest up and prepare to round the East Cape.

To my family: I miss you guys a lot, but I’m having a great time.  I can’t wait to get back and share more stories from the ship.  Mom, Dad, and Anne, I’m so excited to see you all in Christchurch.  Tell Fosteroo, Jersey, and Levi hi for me.  And Grandma Val, I’ll be on the lookout for paintable views.

- Hannah Gottesman, C Watch, Cornell University

Previous entry: Field Day Fun    Next entry: Thoughts from Lookout


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 Mickey Kamfjord on February 25, 2019

H!  Thanks for sharing your observations from the Bobby C!  We are living vicariously through everyone’s posts!  Was lucky to spend some time with Mormor, Big E and the Capel clan this past weekend in FL and we were all eagerly checking the Seamans’ progress.  We got some good kayaking in and sailed in your honor - though we didn’t gybe!  Ad, Boogs, Cakes and Boy all took turns at the catamaran helm for the first time. 

Everyone sends lots of love your way - including the gata.  Enjoy every moment of this adventure! 

#2. Posted by Otto Ackermann on February 28, 2019

Hey Hannah! The trip sounds phenomenal! The volcano sounds like an awesome sight! Missing you and excited to hear more once you return. Hope all is well. Just enjoying the start of spring here in Charlottesville. Best, Otto

#3. Posted by Karen Kamfjord on March 13, 2019

Loving everyone’s entries and following along on your amazing adventure!  I am so eager to talk sailing the Bobby C. with you when you get back to the states.  And to hear all the details of your scientific experiments, the sea life and birds.  I’m thrilled you’re having this experience with kindred spirits.
Have been sailing the Hobies here and doing some gybing of my own.
Off to Geneseo tomorrow to see Ad and Matt perform this weekend.  Will swing by Gra Rox to see how she survived the winter.
Enjoy, enjoy!  Keep all your memories fresh so you can share with me.
Much love, Mormor



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