SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
March 18, 2015
Docked in Lyttleton/Christchurch
43°36.324’ S x 172°43.208’ E
Force 5 from the SxW with 3-foot seas
2005 miles by the GPS log since the start of the voyage
Well, we finally made it through the moments we all knew were coming; the last 24 of our time at sea, met by a lot of other lasts. My last evening watch began last night, the 17th of March at 1900. We came out to a sky full of cumulous clouds, winds coming out of the south by west at a beaufort force of 5, swells reaching over Conor, our tallest crew member’s head, and an unrecognizable sun threatening to set through the stormy clouds that hung ominously over our last day. I headed into the lab to finally put all that I learned into practice and be… the J-Lo (Junior Lab Watch officer).The last galley clean up commenced as most of C watch piled into the 9-square-meter floor space. Janet, our third assistant scientist, announced that our ship just reached an angle of 28 degrees as we rolled over the last swell. This made for a memorable final night in the galley as members slowly trickled out onto the deck to pay their final contributions to Neptune.
When we finished our final respects to Lauren, our fabulous steward and friend, we clamored back on deck to find our watch officers, Stu and Abby, peering up into a clear night sky. I could tell our last evening on watch was going to be one to remember. I announced myself into the dark “Sienna on deck” and walked aft to meet them where they stood. Abby whizzed around and pointed up into the sky off the port quarter deck: it was the aurora australis, also known as the southern lights. As my eyes adjusted to the dim lights, streaks of deep maroon appeared overhead, crossed with lighter vertical waves of a white light as the red faded into an autumn
orange. The horizon was so bright, I thought that the moon was rising, but it was just the colors refracting around the horizon and reaching their way towards a starlit canvas. As the end of our watch crept forward, we
sauntered back to our bunks for Mama Seamans to rock us to sleep one last time.
When we woke up in the morning, the seas were calm but the winds were spitting a coarse rain into our faces as C watch took the watch as the final crew to bring us to port. We struck the stays’ls and began motoring up into Lyttleton’s Harbor. It was an exciting because for the first time, we were to welcome aboard a pilot to help us navigate the tricky waters ahead. We put C watch’s very own Helmstar Hayden behind the helm to bring us in home. We motored in under general quarters and all the crews company piled on deck, decked out in their bright-colored foulie gear that we finally got to use for the first time! We all stood apprehensively, watching the dock approach along with the end of our voyage. But not for long, we sprang into action and all got to work on the transition from sea to alongside and were too busy listening to our watch officers’ orders and repeating commands to ponder the last moments to ourselves. And then, we were alongside. And it was over.
My first watch officer and mentor here at SEA had some remarkable parting words for us. She said “If anyone asks what your trip was like, you can tell them, ‘We were organized, thorough, and prepared. We took care of
ourselves in basic ways. We entrusted people with our lives, learned to do without and persevered at difficult things. We learned to use new tools and we took care of what we had with us. We lived simply.’ And if they are
perceptive, they will say. ‘You didn’t need the sea to do that.” But I could say, if I didn’t have Sara as my mentor, it would have taken me a few extra years to do it on my own.
When we’re gone. When we’re gone.
We’re changed forever now since we’ve come.
But we thank you for the laughs, and the godly midnight snacks.
Fair-weather our sailing friends now that it’s done.
Thank you Josh for everything you’ve taught me. I wouldn’t be here, living life to it’s fullest if it wasn’t for you. Thanks for shining down your colorful spirit last night to guide us home. Rest in Peace. March 18, 2009