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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans

April 30, 2017

An Island of Our Own

Turi Abbott, B Watch, The George Washington University

Ocean Exploration

Carina, Romina, Jacquelyn, Turi, and Lily watch the sunset while stretching out in the head rigging.

17°58.8’ S x 150° 58.8’W

Description of Locale
~50nm SSE of Raiatea

Ship’s Heading

Ship’s Speed
6.8 knots


Sunny, altocumulus clouds, 30.5°C

Backing, E, force 2

Sail Plan
Burning Dinos under the stays’ls

Souls on Board

It was the beginning of dawn watch. And everyone knows that dawn watch is the birth place of deep and somewhat ridiculous thoughts. But on this dawn watch, I was on the struggle bus. I was at the helm, staring intently at the red light on the compass, trying to keep the ship I was trusted with on course. Scott was giving us an evening star lesson, where all of us gaped at the expansive and wondrous celestial sphere. No light pollution, no limits in how long our horizon could run. We were discussing the naming of stars and who figured out what is where in our galaxy when Scott mentioned that plankton and planets have the same root word- meaning wanderer. This connection is the perfect melding of the science and deck departments that we have aboard.

On a side note, many moons ago when Lily, Kurt, Jana, and I were studying for our oceanography test in Woods Hole, I got very confused about water density. It had to be 0300 and we were all exhausted from reviewing slides and writing our proposals- so when I asked “Why isn’t the ocean in the sky?,” we all sat there for a moment pondering why the ocean was actually not in the sky. Luckily, we came about our wits and figured out that water is in fact, denser than air.

So when the connection between the ocean and sky were made in lexicology, I realized my late night confusion was not so misguided. Before we knew about the systems that mixed our oceans or the movement of celestial bodies, we just knew that they were objects that travelled, roamed, and explored. Thus, the solar system above and the ocean deep below are roaming as we too are wandering in the plane between them. Our little island called the Robert C. Seamans goes where Mother Nature blows her, as we use wanderers to guide us to landfall.

On this journey covering over 3550 nautical miles, we have successfully existed in a plane where we could not have lived otherwise and created a home on this vessel. And as I sit writing this blog, my fellow sailors and I chat about our hesitation to step onto land. We have merely squinted to see blobs in the distance of the Chatham Islands and Raivavae and now we are supposed live without guidance from plankton and planets? We are at such a lost as to what “land life” involves because the day we left New Zealand is a distant memory. We have spent every day at sea trying to master a routine, so the thought of stepping onto land makes us wiggle with all the butterflies in our bellies.

After all, tomorrow we will see people (other than the 32 people we have been sailing with) for the first time in 34 days.

We have created a home on this ship and in a way we are our own little island. We have a community, a routine, and a culture. When Jay announced that we would make landfall tomorrow, our group was more excited about eating all together for dinner than kissing the ground. In Woods Hole, all fourteen of us took turns cooking dinner for everyone, and spent many hours smooshed elbow to elbow around a small dinner table chatting and bonding. We have become a tight knit family and we will face landfall together…and discuss it at dinner hopefully too.

Although on land I will be without the stars and ocean critters to guide me, I will have my shipmates to always keep me on course, and the perspective to keep wandering.

- Turi

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Ocean Exploration, • Topics: s272  celestial navigation  life at sea  study abroad • (0) Comments
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