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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans


April 20, 2015

Penny for Your Thoughts

Chrissy Dykeman, 1st Assistant Scientist, SEA Alumna S219

Oceans & Climate

Another favorite part of being at sea: shooting stars. Photo credit: Santiago Botia.

Current Position
26° 54.0’ S x 144° 59.0’W

Course & Speed
310° true, 4 ish knots

Sail Plan
Full Stack + Mainstays’l

Weather
Beautiful and clear!

Souls on Board

Well, here we are sailing (and rolling) along under the full stack and mainstays'l, with Ile Rapa faded into the distance behind us and our sights set to our next stop: Raivavae. The transit from New Zealand has been exciting, rewarding, and even a little stressful at times, but overall the ship's company is in good spirits.

Having spent most of the past four years at sea, I have come to appreciate the weird little quirks and preferences that emerge from living on a 135-foot vessel with 34 other people. Days, and then weeks, go by with no sight of land or means of communication with the outside world - present blog excluded - and the tiny details and minutiae of our daily habits and rituals consume our thoughts. Things that would never cross your mind as important or relevant on land can suddenly make or break your day. In the spirit of discovering the quirks and preferences of my fellow shipmates, I conducted a quick survey to give you, our faithful blog readers, some insight into the inner workings of the minds of those aboard the RCS.

First on the survey docket (and most pressing in my opinion) was food preferences. When asked sweet versus savory for midnight snack, 11 of the 24 participants voted sweet, 7 for savory, and one somewhere in between. Not sure what that in-between snack would look like, but I'm for it. Moving on to other boat routines, participants were asked what was their favorite song to sing on bow watch, or at the very least what song tended to get stuck in their head the most. The Cave, Payphone, High Time, and the soundtrack from Rent were among some of the favorites. Bohemian Rhapsody, Bully in the Alley, and Jingle Bells fell on the "it's always stuck in my head" side of the spectrum, and three of the voters just listen to their thoughts instead. A wide variety for a diverse group of people!

Since the sight of Ile Rapa's craggy peaks poking over the horizon was fresh in our brains, a one-word summary for how it made us feel was next. Answers varied from "isolated," "intrigued," "surreal," and "impressed," to "sailorly," "comforted," "but-a-dream," and, one after my biology-loving heart, "squid." It was clear from these answers that Ile Rapa gave us all a sense of wonder and accomplishment for the 2800+ miles we have sailed thus far! Only a few hundred more to the Australs, and we're all excited to see what they hold.

Onto one of the other most important parts of the boat routine: sleep. With the watch schedule so varied throughout the day, I think of our sleep schedules out here as sort of a constant state of napping. (As an aside, favorite watch was resoundingly a tie between mid and dawn watches, with morning watch eking out a close second, followed by afternoon watch. Sorry, evening watch.) At any rate, such a varied sleep schedule inevitably leads to strange dreams unlike those had ashore, a phenomenon I call "boat dreams." When asked for a 3(ish) word summary of weirdest boat dream to date, answers included "counting pteropods," "emu chickens," "fish men attack," "Ari and Conard opened a bar," "downward spiral whirlpool," and, most intriguing to me, "Nevin porcupine hat."

Then we got to the hardest-hitting question of all: What's your favorite head (bathroom) to use? With four on board spread throughout the various accommodation spaces, each with their own slightly different layout and atmosphere, opinions are strong and steadfast. The aft starboard head, affectionately dubbed The Cathedral for its vaulted hatches that open to the quarterdeck, was the crowd favorite with over half the votes. The fo'c's'le head lagged behind in second place, followed by midships, and then one lonely vote for the aft port head (The Confessional, aptly named for its comparatively small size to The Cathedral next door).

Finally, in the spirit of self-reflection and awareness that we are promoting in Phase III: If you were a sail, what sail would you be? We must be feeling high and mighty out here on the South Pacific, as the raffee had an overwhelming win (perhaps influenced by the stack being set during this interview), but every other sail on board also got a vote, with the exception of the storm trys'l. Even the spanker - a sail that exists but we don't have on this ship - got a vote. Sorry storm trys'l, this tropical sun has got our spirits high!

So there you have it - the pressing thoughts on everyone's minds as we continue our trek to the north through these wild blue waters. The time one spends at sea is special in so many ways, but I think for me the best part is having the chance to form a community with so many awesome and diverse people that is unlike any other I have encountered on land. Thanks for keeping it fun and weird, S258!

Reporting from the lab,
Chrissy

PS. Love and high fives to the family back home! And a belated thanks to my mom for sending me birthday tidings before the trip started! Save me a seat in the lawn chairs for when I get home.

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Oceans & Climate, • Topics: s258 • (0) Comments

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