SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
March 09, 2015
Back at Sea
42° 49.8’ S x 173° 47.6’ E
~21nm off of Point Gibson, South Island
Wind ESE, F3; Seas SE, 3 feet
Today was our first full day at sea in a week and, as is to be expected, much of our ship’s company is still in the midst of an adjustment period. We have had to contend with the familiar obstacles of life at sea, including hallways, tables, and showers that unexpectedly turn sideways, not to mention the associated queasiness alluded to by Sara in yesterday’s post. In some ways, getting underway feels like a return to our old routine, but a lot is changing. We have new watch officers, are approaching a new island, and are finding newfound respect for old project deadlines.
Since the seas and (most of) our stomachs settled overnight, we have been able to devote our time and mental energy to refreshing our sailing skills. Although anyone on the ship will tell you that science aboard the Seamans never really ends, we did take a brief hiatus from sampling while in port. At 0930 Jess, Chris, and I broke the dry spell by deploying most of the scientific equipment we have onboard. With the help of our new assistant scientist, Abby, we tossed, or carefully lowered where appropriate, a phytoplankton net, Secchi disk, CTD hydrocast, Neuston net, and sampling bucket overboard. Thanks to our masterfully tied retrieval lines – shout out to my fellow C watchers for winning the bowline tying contest back in Wellington—we were able to recover these items as well. We spent the rest of morning watch processing our samples, readying them to be interpreted by DOR/POR students hungry for some last minute data. We were, however, considerate enough to leave our 100 counts, which require someone with an iron stomach to look under a microscope for a sustained period of time, to our Aquatically Attuned A watchers Sarah, Claudia, and Molly.
This afternoon, in the spirit of our Moby Dick readathon, the Seamans took a page out of Captain Ahab’s (very long) book and went in search of sperm whales along the coast of Kaikoura. In our afternoon class Richard taught us about the area as well as New Zealand’s birds, fisheries, and quota management system. As we have yet to spot the white whale, or a leviathan of any color, we plan on continuing our search down the South Island’s coast. However, Sarah, our resident English major, would like to add that she hopes we do so with considerably “less vengeance in our hearts” than Ahab.
Although some of us have found this transition period challenging, it is also gratifying to see how, with a little bit of effort, we have been able to get right back into the swing of things. It seems we arrived in Wellington ages ago, but even so, I can still tie a bowline, I have not forgotten the difference between a petrel and a shearwater, and, with a little help from my watch mates, I can still locate the mainstays’l downhaul. Before we changed watch officers, Sara and Chrissy talked to C watch about how, as we enter phase III, we will need to rely less on them and more on or own collective knowledge to run the ship. I can safely say that, departing Wellington, I have come to appreciate my watch’s collective knowledge more than ever.
PS to Kate Huber: Happy Birthday from your Favorite Aunt!