SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
February 26, 2015
Eat, Sleep, Sail
42° 11.635’S, 176° 55.215’E
In transit towards Wellington
One month ago we were confined to our cottages in Woods Hole waiting out a blizzard that put New England under a record amount of snow. Fast forward to yesterday evening and we were getting ready, yet again, for a different kind of weather event. Forecasts told of an approaching cold front with strong southerly winds to follow. The evening started quietly, as the setting sun filled the cloud-spotted sky with colors of orange, and Lauren, our multi-talented steward, played her musical stylings on a violin. Waking at 2300 for watch, my fellow C watchers and I found that the calm had passed and the wind was now in full force, gusty and cold from the south. As we took our turnover from B watch, pitching and rolling in the swells, we suddenly found ourselves tending lines and hauling at the mains’l halyard as the deck lit up with floodlights. Both B and C watch in full force, two thirds of the student crew, shouting over the winds in unison “2, 6, heave!” as we set the double-reefed mains’l. I now sit in my bunk writing this after a 6-hour watch of pitching and rolling, and can’t help but feel a bit salty knowing how seemingly normal this has become.
As we have gotten further into the routine of life at sea, here in the middle of our two-week voyage toward Wellington, we have all grown together into an efficient sailing machine, at least when compared to our first week out of Auckland. Eat, sleep, sail has become our mantra, and as Matt Silvia stated in a previous blog post, the SSV Robert C. Seamans has become our marae. A bond between ship and crew has formed. But more notably, a bond between us crew members as a family has taken shape.
As we work on our various projects and papers, I can’t help but think about how suitable one of my classes can be used to describe what we have become as a seafaring community. The class, “Sense of Place,” aims to “capture the ‘cultural, spiritual, and aesthetic benefits that people value’.” While the class focuses on the places that we visit ashore in New Zealand, we have found our own Sense of Place aboard the Robert C. Seamans. While some still struggle to stomach some of the more intense motions of the ocean, there is always someone right behind them with some saltine crackers and ginger. While some still struggle to learn lines, there is always someone willing to assist in teaching. We have come to value each other intellectually, spiritually, and communally, and have grown into a close-knit group of individuals. With just under half of our sea component left, I eagerly await what our futures will bring.