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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

October 23, 2016

Wasn’t that the best of times?

Stuart Wolff-Goodrich, C Watch, University of Vermont


Sailing on traditional Fijian camakau, Na Korova village

Ship's Log

Current Position
18° 08.1’ S x 178° 25.4’ E

Ship’s Heading & Speed
Alongside Suva, Fiji

Sail Plan

Clear, warm, beautiful

Souls on Board

It seems surreal that today marks the fourth day being in Fiji. Everything seems to be a blur, everyday holding a new adventure and an opportunity to learn about the Pacific and from the amazing people that inhabit it. With so much going on it has become difficult to take a step back and appreciate all that we’re doing and what we’ve done so far. It won’t be long before we’ll be back home filled with nostalgic thoughts of the beautiful islands and an ocean of undisputed grandeur. While resting atop the boat’s lab in late October, wearing shorts and a button down feels nothing short of routine, walking home from class in a few months time, through the cold and bitter wind, as Vermonters do, these nights will be from that of dreams. Hikes to waterfalls and rope swings will be replaced with walks from apartments to campus; sailing on Fijian camakau canoes under the beating sun will become drives from school to the grocery market, heat blasting in our face; sitting alongside village chiefs and elders will turn into seats among classmates quietly listening to university professors.

All things considered this last month and the weeks that will follow have been a unique experience. Its not everyday that you are given the opportunity to speak with chiefs of villages on the topics of climate change and the impact it has had and will continue to have on their islands. Most notably was the topic of youth and their abandonment of tradition; the tradition of sailing on drua and camakau, of navigating using only the waves, stars, and in desperate occasions the spirits of those who have passed away. Before having this conversation and giving our input, the people of Na Korova village in Fiji shared with us the techniques of sailing the camakau, a remarkably fast and efficient vessel. We sailed for a brief 15 minutes, but the experience will live on with us for years to come as will the stories.

As Fiji is our last port stop before landing in Auckland–when we have the time–we are left to reminisce of past adventures and communities visited. This whole journey has proven an experience of a lifetime, one to live on through stories and memories, and an unmistakable bond with people who were simply strangers seven weeks ago. Thinking back on it I am sure to be left with a quote that will sum up this trip quite well; “Wasn’t that the best of times, that time we were young at sea.”

And to my family and friends, I wish you all the best, and hope you are fairing well with the thought of winter fast approaching.

Stuart Wolff-Goodrich

Previous entry: Drua Day    Next entry: ‘Au i Ke Kai Me He Manu Ala


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