SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
February 19, 2015
Headed for the High Seas
37° 12’ 16.8” S x 177° 06’ 50.4” E
Off the Mercury Islands
South South East
It has been merely 34 hours since we shoved off on our 13-day passage from Bay of Islands to Wellington and the days are already beginning to blend together. Our first night voyage closed with a bow wave glowing with bioluminescent star streaks, met by a "sky that resembled a back lit canopy with holes punched in it" (as described in a song by Incubus). We have been following the Southern Cross that outshines the Milky Way cast in a band around it. Orion, so mighty above, even showed his bow for the first time to this farm girl from Connecticut. Standing lookout is by far my favorite duty for the night watch. I stand myself at the foremost step of the bow and face outward to a world that could previously only have existed for me in the wonderment of a child. For the first several moments at lookout, time did not exist; I was caught in awe of the natural world around me, as my eyes scanned the blanketing waves of the ocean for indications of fellow vessels or locations. Before turning over the watch, I finished my night by singing "Black Bird," and sending healing energy to my mother recovering on the far side of our world, remembering that we still say goodnight to the same moon.
This morning began with busy bee C watchers scrubbing the deck, stern to bow, in a cleaning frenzy. Once the wood had returned to its auburn shine, we deployed a secchi disk, phytoplankton net, hydro cast, and Neuston net tow. For someone that is used to studying soil, the gelatinous siphonophores and salps are new specimens to work with between a set of forceps. Our Neuston tow sample somewhat resembled a blue jelly, with color coming from the vibrant copepods that inhabit these subtropical, Pacific waters.
I eagerly await the coming rhythms that life at sea will sway us into as a crew. Our previously mixed up sleeping schedules will soon seem methodical and balanced. As our bodies adjust, we will need to manage our time well to complete our assignments for our cultural and scientific immersion electives. Finding space for self has not proven as difficult as I thought, despite being limited to a 40-meter ship split between 38 crew members. Perching up on the house top and lab top is a prime way to escape from the lively commotion on deck, although you must always be ready to lend a hand to raise or strike a sail if needed. The oncoming breeze eases any approaching nausea, although our record for today is clean as of yet.
For now, I must turn in, for I am on mid watch from 2300 to 0300 and have yet to sleep. Until next time, Mama Bear, I'm feeling great, and now it's your turn to get well!
And a Happy Happy 21st to Anthony, our shore-side sailor. Keep channeling your inner sunshine.