SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
April 28, 2015
Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude
21°05’S / 148°45’W, 220 NM SSE of Moorea, Society Islands
Course & Speed
c/o and c/s 325°, making 7-9 knots
Motorsailing under the four lowers
Tropical sunshine, pitiful winds, calm seas
I am currently sitting on deck underneath a sky glowing with stars, something that I have now grown accustomed to out here at sea. Back home, I never saw anything more than the Big Dipper on a clear night, nothing close to any trace of a planet, the Milky Way, or even a shooting star. Out here, the sky comes to life. Even after sailing 3,300 nautical miles, night after night I find myself walking on deck in utter amazement of what lies millions of miles above us. Just like the tides, the constellations rise and fall each and every night – a routine cycle that lent wonder, theory, and guidance to every seafarer before us. Traversing half the South Pacific purely by celestial navigation is an incredible accomplishment, and without a doubt a huge bragging right! We have come such a long way from where we started (both figuratively and literally, being 7,200 miles from Woods Hole, MA!) and it wasn’t until these final days where we began to reflect on our journey thus far.
Earlier this morning we crossed the Tropic of Capricorn (23°26.1’S), a thrilling and memorable crossing to say the least! Mother Nature gave us an exciting welcome to the tropics last night with a series of squalls that lit up the night sky. A huge lightning storm was amongst us off the port side, with bolts and flashes occurring almost every 2 seconds! The radar screen was completely filled with reflectivity, something we had yet to come across. It wasn’t until watch turnover when the heavens erupted, B Watch geared up in their foul-weather gear, and my fellow A Watchers and I left dripping wet, clearly unprepared in our shorts and tank tops. We all stood laughing in the rain, enjoying the crazy weather and soaking it all in (literally), but most importantly, enjoying this lovely, warm tropical weather that we finally arrived at.
The aftermath of squalls was a beautiful day. For the first time since our start in Lyttelton, water temps rose above 80°F, while the air temp hit a record 86°F! Skies cleared up and seas calmed, but our beloved wind disappeared. We spent the day motoring and skipping out on science stations, for we have some miles to make! Our next port stop is set for Moorea, the island NW of Tahiti, where we plan to anchor in the famous Cook Bay (same spot Captain Cook anchored years ago!). Because 400 nautical miles separate us from that mooring and we are averaging 110 nautical miles a day, it was full speed ahead as today’s objective.
Despite the lack of a hydrocast or neuston tow today, science never stops! My watch decided the show must go on, so we set out measuring each person’s wingspan and height to see if they were a T-Rex, Square, or Gorilla. A simple body ratio turned into the highlight of the day, trying to guess what every person would be! I found out I am a Gorilla by about 5cm, meaning my wingspan is 5cm longer than my height! Gorillas seemed to dominate the population here onboard the RCS, with only a handful of T-Rexes and perfect Squares combined.
It’s hard to believe only a few days remain until we arrive at our final destination in Tahiti. We’ve accomplished so much over the past six weeks at sea, it’s crazy to think back on it all. Learning all 98 lines, all the sails, how to set and strike each one, all the rigging, the masts, engine room components, and MOB, fire, and abandon ship drills were merely spaghetti being thrown in our faces during the first few days. Now, every noodle has stuck and we are running this ship on our own. After spending weeks hunched over microscope doing 100 counts, measuring pH, titrating for alkalinity, analyzing nutrients, and drafting our manuscripts, we completed our research projects just in time to enjoy this last leg of the trip. We have visited islands with populations less than half the size of my high school back home, lived April 3rd twice, encountered swells peaking higher than the main boom as well as seas as calm as glass, witnessed a lunar eclipse, took 1000m showers, and now just recently crossed the Tropic of Capricorn into the land of sunshine. From the snow apocalypse that lasted all six weeks of the shore component in Woods Hole, to the cold, rainy, 40°F days spent out at sea along our eastward passage from New Zealand, the days we dreamed of have finally arrived, and everyone is ecstatic to break out the swim suits, shorts, and sunburn with this lovely tropical weather. It’s funny to think that at one point our nearest point of land was Antarctica! What a crazy voyage it has been thus far – I don’t want it to end.
To my family and friends back home, I miss you all like crazy! Shout-out to my wonderful and amazing mother, I love you!! Em I hope you’re killing it in tennis and xoXoxOxXO to Nicholas & Jennifer. I’ll be home before you know it. :) Can’t wait to share the stories of this amazing experience with you all!
Enjoy your Air Conditioning,