SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
April 23, 2015
Raivavae, Austral Islands, French Polynesia
Course & Speed
All sails struck
Sunny, 80 degrees, and humid
The excitement of getting to land after three long weeks at sea since we left the Chatham Islands has been building aboard the Robert C. Seamans. We have all been feeling a lot of pressure lately as JWO/JLO responsibilities have heightened and we are finally putting together our manuscripts for our research projects. It is clear that sleep is becoming more and more compromised, especially when you see fellow shipmates looking a bit dazed for their late night watches or when the breakfast table has a few less attendees than usual. But amongst all of this, everyone has been in great spirits.
We projected that we were going to be in sight of Raivavae sometime last night, but the island was not going to reveal itself until the sun rose this morning. And what a sunrise it was, perfectly positioned at our stern. The sky was an array of every pastel color. Just as it began to lighten up, just forward of our port beam the faint grey outline of the island slowly appeared (or was it just our imagination?). "Land Ho!" Then only minutes later a vivid full rainbow appeared over our ship. One side ended perfectly on top of Raivavae in the distance, practically leading the way for us. The other side ended back out to the ocean, back out to the vast ocean where we had been for so long. What a morning, what a view.
We were successfully able to pass by the reef around Raivavae, with its very shallow water channel, during high tide this afternoon. The deck was kept silent during the maneuvering so that all communications could be heard. All eyes were glued to the spectacular island before us, as we were all being reminded again what land really looked like. Enticing us with its sharp volcanic rocks standing in the middle of the ocean, the turquoise lagoon fringing its edges, and its blanket of every shade of green (a color we have not seen in quite some time now). It was hard to take your eyes off of this island, one that we know not many people have had the chance to see, but I forced myself to take a moment to look backwards. In our silence I saw faint smiles among our company and the view that stood behind us was a view of the 3158.6 nautical miles we had traveled to get this far. The anticipation to step foot on land was growing strong aboard. Even just the sight of a few canoeists passing the boat was enough to get people more than excited. Getting to see land up close like this felt unreal.
Who knows all the different things everyone was thinking in that moment, but I think for the most part it was a feeling of accomplishment that we made it this far, through all of our struggles and triumphs during our long open-ocean passage from the Chatham Islands. All awhile a sense of relief that our journey is not over yet, that we still have another week together on the Robert C. Seamans. The perception of time seems a little fuzzy out at sea; glad we still have some time.