SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
April 16, 2015
Night Watch, Eyes Open
31° 04.3’ S x 148° 34.0’ W
Course & Speed
055° true at 5 kt
4 lowers, jib tops’l, fisherman
Wind NNW at F4, cloudy (altostratus)
Greetings and Salutations!
Things continue heating up on the Robert C. Seamans, both literally as we creep toward the tropics, and figuratively as our science project deadlines loom and we approach the end of the ominous-sounding "Shadow Phase" and the beginning of slightly sillier sounding, but much more stressful, JWO/JLO phase. (More as it develops.) Today marked the end of the alien-looking calm seas and a return to the "sporty" ocean we have come to know and love, or at least have a working relationship with. I wonder what it will be like not to have bruises all over my body, or spontaneously pitch through a doorway or into a seat where I had intended a measured, graceful entrance? Still, the rain brought us a full rainbow after dawn this morning, and several folks were to be seen chasing it with coffee cups to get that perfect photo opportunity. Tasha succeeded as you can see!
Sail handling and sail theory are beginning to come easier, but my #1 favorite recent development has been turning off the binnacle, or compass light, during night watches and picking stars to steer by. Mama Seamans is a tough boat to steer, and for the first weeks I would cling to the wheel as she swung off her heading during a roll, trying to brute-force her back to the proper course. But I've gradually learned that a light touch is called for; I can step back and let the spokes turn a few times either direction without panicking. Steering by the stars is also weaning me off keeping my eyes glued to the compass, and more open to everything that's going on in real time in our floating world and in the wider world of the sea and sky. Loosening up like this, coming back to the present moment, allows an incredible experience of density, of richness. The night sky is packed to the brim with stars, spilling everywhere, not just glued to a bowl far over our heads but coming right down to ocean-level to mingle with us. And of course, every so often, a streak of silver as one dislodges itself and hurries away on course unknown.
The moon has my attention too, waning to a fine crescent and rising almost at dawn these days. Last night as it appeared in the east we had a moment of alarm, thinking we'd sighted a ship on fire, it was so orange in color. At these latitudes the moon's orientation is different; the belly of the crescent touches the water at moonrise, like a hammock for some lucky celestial being.
In general you can tell - I do love the sailing and navigation, ogling the critters in our nets, even letting my eyes unfocus staring at Excel spreadsheets full of nutrient data for my project. But it's the beauty of the world, and particularly the night, that's making me the happiest out here.
To my marvelous parents, I love you so much and I am grateful beyond words to you for making this mad adventure possible. Sierra, Duncan, G Baby, Jacob and my amazing Dancefest-ers, everyone at Chapel House and Interfaith House, all Colgate geologists crushing their thesises - I think of you all constantly and send giant hugs all around. Can't wait to don the cap and gown with you all one month from tomorrow YIKES!! Finally, kali mera Evan o'mine. S'agapo. You know everything I want to say.