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SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans

March 06, 2015

Delayed in Windy Wellington

Eleah Wilkerson, B watch, Amherst College

The Global Ocean: New Zealand

Current Position
Queens Wharf, Wellington

The windiest of Wellington

Souls on Board

Hello! Well, Wellington is still windy, and we are still here to be blown away. Those 45 knot winds promised in yesterday’s post came howling in this morning, and though it would be nice to be sailing today as planned, it’s probably good that we are staying in port until this weather blows over. I started the morning on watch at 0600 and in time to watch a spectacular sunrise before the sky clouded over. Because of the altered schedule, we will be spending the next few mornings doing work on our various projects, a plan that worked out well because shortly after we started work, our first real rainstorm of the trip started in and didn’t stop for several hours. We stayed mostly in the salon quietly working, with the occasional venture up to see what things were like on deck and whoever had done the venturing coming back slightly damp and rather windblown to report that the rain had, not in fact, lightened up. I was fortunate to use the time to interview our latest guest onboard, Richard DeHamel, about biosecurity issues in New Zealand, a conversation that evolved in to more general aquaculture practices and inventions. This may come as a shock, but never before have I encountered a man as excited about gluing scallops to aquaculture infrastructure with the same adhesive used to attach braces to teeth.

Because this is the day we were to be leaving Wellington, class in the afternoon was taken up with a debrief on our experience in the city thus far. We had a long discussion about the differences between Wellington and our only other large city experience in Auckland, and our interpretations of the tour we were fortunate enough to be a part of at the Te Papa museum yesterday, one which I think might have been the most unaffected view into Maori life and culture that we have yet seen. After class, we wandered off into various corners of the city for a few hours, some to explore the library or get coffee at a local shop, some to go running, and some back to the very museum we had been discussing for a second look at the exhibits, and, let’s be honest, access to that ever-precious free unlimited wifi.

Upon returning to the ship shortly before dinner, we were presented with proof of just how windy this city can be by the sight of several cargo containers from the terminal across the bay blowing right off of the stacks upon which they had been placed and into the water. As we watched a tugboat hurry to collect one of the three that had fallen, another broke free from the rocks that had caught it and drifted all the way across the bay until it was out of sight on the other side. On top of the difficulties being had by the container terminal across the way, we had our own difficulties getting on and off of the ship, which was often being blown as far away from the dock as the lines would allow. There was a rope in place to pull the ship back, but attempting to move a ship the size of the Seamans when it is disinclined to do so was still something of an adventure.

With everyone safely back aboard the ship and after one of Lauren’s consistently excellent dinners, we were treated to a lecture by Richard about his life and work. We learned many new things (who knew the way to identify yellow-eyed penguins was to look at the color of their eyes?), and listened to many a story about all of his adventures. A few that most stick in my memory are the idea that if you are above tree line and hurting for tent stakes, albatross bones will do the trick, that if you leave your cabin door open in the right part of the world you may well be greeted by a pair of penguins and a baby seal in the morning, and that if you grab a kiwi by the neck, it will scratch you and run away, but being so blind as to not know any better, might run in a circle until it is again directly between your legs.

Overall it is the same good food, company, conversation, and many a music-filled night that has marked the rest of this extraordinary adventure. We can’t wait to be back on the water, but for the time being we couldn’t ask for better.

I would also like to say a quick hello to my mom and dad, whom I miss and would like to assure that I am in fact taking lots of pictures, and the wonderful inhabitants of the Amherst Suite That For This Post Shall Remain Nameless. I miss you all more than words can say and I’ll be back before you know it.

- Eleah

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,The Global Ocean: New Zealand, • Topics: s257  port stops  new zealand • (3) Comments


#1. Posted by Cynthia on March 10, 2015

What a treat to see the spectacular morning sunrise, Eleah! We loved your blog (and your sense of humor) and are so glad you sent us photos as we were beginning to think that you had been left behind at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.  Nana and Grandpa are back from Cuba and had a great time! So nice to talk on the phone!
Love and hugs, Mom & Dad (and Cheyenne)

#2. Posted by Nana & Gpa Tom on March 16, 2015

Loved your sunrise pic and blog of your delay in port at Wellington. Hope you are now back at sea. Cuba was fantastic. Have since done another Road Scholar to nearby Sarasota for three operas: “Tosca”, “Figaro” and “Don Carlos”. All delightful. Verdi’s “Don Carlos” was the full 4 hour and 45 minutes version rarely done - fabulous.

#3. Posted by katherine kouris on March 16, 2015

chere eleah,
so thrilled for you to be having such an amazing adventure! it’s been great fun to follow your journey day by day. your blog entry was *you* through and through—funny, insightful and filled with your love of learning and discovery.

you made a fabulous choice for your time abroad. who knew you would go aboard a SEA vessel one more time?! well, i guess you did. smile your aunt thought you’d go to france—but that’s another story, isn’t it?

enjoy your last starry nights of wonder and all the best as you begin the second chapter of your voyage!

much love to you,

tante katherine




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