SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
April 21, 2020
Center of our Snow Globe
30 degrees 06.4’ S x 147 degrees 10.5’ W
Ship’s Heading & Speed
040 degrees T, 7.0 knots
Days underway and Trip log
Day 15, 2185nm
Weather & Sail Plan
Sunny with blue skies/Wind is from the south east, Force 3 /motor sailing under all fore and aft sails
Description of location
203 nm southwest of Rapa, French Polynesia
Hello friends and family! It has been 15 days without a speck of land in sight! While the ocean constantly changes shades and temperaments it is hard to tell one patch of ocean from the next. I could almost convince myself that we have stayed in the same place if I never glanced at the chart with our cruise track that is rapidly streaking northeast across the South Pacific.
As we look out into the uninterrupted blue the horizon creates a perfect circle around the ship. It's as if we are the center piece of some enormous snow globe. On some days it feels like a giant toddler has seized our little world and continues to shake it around. Intent on building up the swell and intrigued by how many directions they can hit the ship with water at the same time. The waves wash over the deck, up and down, back and forth. Rain pours down from the sky, running down our main sail in torrents that fall back into the sea. Other days, like today, it's as if we have been left on a dusty shelf by an open window. The sun is streaming in, the seas finally rest, and we are content in our glass bubble. Waiting for the daily gathering around sun set and anticipating the clear night of stars ahead of us.
I first experienced this phenomenon when I stepped onboard this ship at the age of fifteen. With ample time to gaze at the water it came to me the other day that my first meeting with this ship was ten years ago! I completed my first SEA program as a high school student. We sailed out under the Golden gate bridge down to Catalina Island. It was only a ten-day trip, but more than enough to get me hooked. I came back as a college student and completed a full semester in New Zealand, and have been working as an assistant scientist for the last three years.
Speaking of hooked.. there are a few things our here which remind us that we are not alone. Over our PA system the other day came the voice of Kate Enright with only two words "Fish ON!" [Our science support team back in the office (Hi Kim and Maia!) works hard to apply for and attain our data collection clearances for normal SEA semester programs. These are agreements with other countries regarding what types of data we can collect and what kind of samples we can take from their waters. In this case with the quick change of plans we were unable to change the dates and locations of those clearances so we are respecting the boundaries of all foreign countries and only fishing in international waters.] Our fishing contraption is quite top-of-the-line, made up of old bungee cord, rusty binder clips and a lure made out of an old butter knife. It did the trick this time!
I rushed up on deck just as our chief engineer, Henry, was pulling a fish the size of me on board!! We believe the fish to be a Wahoo. It weighted out at 71 lbs that's a lot of fish. It is a good reminder that we are not only making progress towards our destination, but also passing through some productive and thriving waters. Yesterday, Kylie treated us to a Day of Fish!: Fish cakes for breakfast, poke for lunch, sushi for afternoon snack, and fish steaks for dinner. We are extremely grateful for some of the freshest fish we will ever eat and to Hilary and Kylie who took on the big role of properly cleaning and preparing the fish. Needless to say we won't be streaming our fishing line for a while.
We are happy in our snow globe continuing along our way with bellies full of fish. We are thinking of you and missing you all. Thanks for following along with our voyage!
Helen Dufel, Assistant Scientist,S290 B-Watchstander
Editor's Note: In response to the coronavirus pandemic, all SEA Semester students departed our ships on or before March 18, with modifications made to the cruise tracks to ensure swift travel home. A small, dedicated professional crew aboard each vessel is working in a closed community to return our ships to the US waters. The crew aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans complied with New Zealand's 14 day self-isolation period to establish & maintain crew health prior to departing on their open ocean passage.