SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
November 18, 2015
Craving Sea Under Sail
Portside-to Prince’s Wharf, Auckland;
Clear skies, few clouds, SSW winds, calm seas; 15.6 °C
Ahoy family, friends, and fellow followers –
The itch and anxiousness to find open seas have overcome us all. Thoughts of escaping the dock and unfurling the sails are brought up often between one another. But putting aside our sailing excitement, one last port day in Auckland awaited us.
After our ongoing dock night watches and breakfast onboard, the students and crew collectively took part in safety training on the ship. We went through fire, man overboard (MOB), and abandon ship protocols and procedures, and ran through a fire emergency drill where watch groups were assigned to specific tasks in areas onboard. My watch, bravo B-watch, is tasked with handling the sails in case of emergency, so throughout the morning we learned about proper line techniques, line locations, and callouts. We also got the chance to try on immersion suits and took part in the S263 Olympic Trials aboard the Robert C. Seamans with the immersion suit time trails. Plenty of Auckland dock-strollers got a kick out of taking pictures of us all flailing our limbs trying to squeeze into red neoprene ‘lobster’ suits.
Lunch was aboard the ship and then we headed out by foot to the Auckland War Museum for a tour. At the museum, we were split into two groups to learn about the evolution of sea passage to New Zealand from the Pacific Islands and the influence of the Maori people and culture in New Zealand. Our guides showed us an enormous, 100+ feet Maori war canoe that impressed us all with its detailed carvings and craftsmanship. After our tours, we ventured the museum individually, exploring its three floors filled with Maori, Pacific Islander, natural history, European history, war, volcanoes, landscape, and children’s exhibits. My personal favorite part was the Maori meeting house. In order to enter the house, you had to take off your shoes and leave them outside. The floors were all wooden and Maori women were weaving the walls of the meeting house there on the spot. Wooden carvings filled the interior of the building and gave a deep sense of cultural ties to their past. It was a surreal experience to enter a ‘scared’ place within the walls of a museum not only from an academic perspective but also from a cultural one.
Leaving the museum opened up our evenings to free time up until 2200 when lights-out would be enforced and all hands must be accounted for onboard. Some people took their time getting back to the ship, shopping downtown or taking a look around, while others took the opportunity to make their way back briskly for a short round of exercise. Mostly everyone ate in Auckland, even with the option to eat onboard, enjoying their last meal of choice. Wi-Fi, along with TimTams (New Zealand’s finest store-bought cookies) and ice cream (Kiwis have it right with hokey pokey flavor), were hot commodities this evening.
With our last emails and Facebook updates posted, that familiar itch returned. But going to rest with high spirits, we finally started to scratch at the desire to see the city of Auckland behind us and the open ocean under sail with a much more realistic feeling. Tomorrow is the day we have anticipated since receiving our acceptance letters from SEA: the day of sail.
In hope of fair winds,