SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
December 22, 2014
Longest Day, Last Day: Bright New Beginnings On the Horizon
41°14.24’S x 174°50.77’E
Clear skies, very low wind (possible an historic First for “Windy Wellington”)
Sail Plan & Course/Speed
At anchor in Wellington Harbor
Today was a day of great significance: celestial, emotional, and developmental. For us here in New Zealand it is December 22nd, the Summer Solstice. It was the last full day of our program, full of fun activities, cleaning, and general wrapping-up procedure. Most of us finally enjoyed a moment not dominated by battling the seas or racing to an assignment deadline: during this opportunity to reflect we realized how much we’ve changed and what we’ve learned over the past three months together.
Solstice means standstill: the Solstice window lasts for three days, during which the sun appears to be at a standstill where it rises and sets. Where we are in the Southern Hemisphere, we receive the longest daylight hours of the year. It’s difficult to imagine that at home Solstice is reversed, and the days are short, the ground covered in snow. In traditional mysticism a Solstice represents (among other things) times of transition and new beginnings. While we greatly enjoyed the light and warmth all day, we are ready to return home to our families, friends, and the beginnings of new
Soon after breakfast, we started cleaning. I think previous blog posts have described Field Day: this was that, times at least 20. The ship is literally sparkling again, down to the brass tacks (and plaques - thanks Kristin!). We also turned in our harnesses, at which many of us felt an unexpected sense of loss: those pieces of cloth and metal symbolize our connection to the ship and our safety during at-sea operations. They were literally our lifelines during rough weather, as we clipped in for such fun activities as sail handling in 30-knot winds or chundering over the side of the rail in rolling seas.
In the afternoon we had an “Olympics,” during which we dressed in outrageous costumes and competed in goofy nautical challenges. Turns out Becky has the rare genetic gift of Monkey Toes: that girls can ballantine a line better with her non-dominant foot than some of us can with both hands! Following the games we had our second opportunity to take a quick dip in the ocean.
After our last all-hands dinner (final thanks to Vickie for the amazing food every day!) we had our Final “Swizzle,” this time on deck. With home-made ice cream sandwiches in hand, another glorious sunset blazing layers of fire over Wellington, and our friends performing songs, skits, jokes and poetry, we suddenly felt the tang of sadness over our imminent departure. It may have been the longest day of the year, but I wish it could have lasted just a little longer.