SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
July 21, 2015
At Anchor in Kanton Lagoon
2°48.3’S x 171°42.8’ W
Wind SE, BF 1
Today marks the second day in a row of waking up to Land Ho! However, this time we have made way to Kanton Island, where we plan to stay for the next four days. I went on deck this morning to lay my own eyes on Kanton just as the rain was ending. My watch only faced one squall during our four-hour night watch, but word has it that dawn watch did not see many moments without rainfall.
To enter the lagoon in the middle of Kanton Island, we must pass through the lone channel connecting the open ocean to the lagoon. Captain Pamela and the mates have been doing careful calculations to predict when slack tide occurs, which is when there is no current in the channel. If we were to miss this morning’s slack tide, we would have to putz around the island for 25 hours until our next opportunity to enter. However, the professionals nailed it and from the moment Captain Pamela called “Let’s go!” we were moving slowly but steadily through the channel. It was amazing to watch all of the coordination to check and double check our progress. The rescue boat was sent out to survey the tide and depth in front of us, we had many lookouts on different parts of the ship, and walkie-talkie communication was
frequently overheard. It was astonishing to peer over the edge of the ship and see the bottom while we were in the channel! We also passed by a shipwreck, with significant portions of the bow and cabin above sea level. The wreck combined with the gray skies gave an eerie feeling to our entrance.
Once safely into the lagoon, anchoring was another tedious process. We dropped our anchor and then tied our stern to an ancient anchor that was significantly larger than ours. It took a rescue boat trip to locate the anchor, a SCUBA dive to tie our “anaconda line” to the anchor, and then patience to slowly move the ship into alignment to be secured by the “anaconda line.” However, all of this is necessary to ensure that the strong channel currents don’t sweep us back out to sea or into the reef, as the current in the channel can get up to 10 knots. During this time of standing, watching, and waiting, we all realized that flies were not something we had missed while at sea, at all.
Once we were secured, we were all bursting at the seams to get into the water, especially since the sun has unveiled itself. After an all-hands meeting about the plan for the upcoming few days, the professional crew granted us our wish: swim call! We all grabbed snorkel gear and happily cooled off. The reef is beautiful, and what there is to see has only just begun! While we snorkeled, Captain Pamela was on land checking our vessel and all of its crewmembers in with the officials. Tomorrow will be our first opportunity to go ashore in 15 days. This is the port stop we’ve all been anxiously awaiting, and here it is, right in front of us! This is almost like a new beginning: research will go into full gear, through both interviews with locals and more scientific data collection, highly anticipated reef exploration will occur, and we will learn the anchor-watch rotation schedule. More to come as we dive in!