SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
October 30, 2015
Reflections from the Boundless Sea
26° 45.2’ S x 175° 47.3’ E
smack dab in between Fiji and New Zealand
Sailing on a starboard tack under the four lowers (Mains’l, Mainstays’l, Forestays’l, and Jib)
SSW winds at16 knots, altocumulus clouds partly covering the sky
Course and speed
125° psc at 5 knots
It’s our 6th day at sea on our 12 day journey to New Zealand, and as much as I can’t wait to step onto unmoving land that lets you walk where you actually want to walk, I’ve also been getting more comfortable and accustomed to our daily routines. Just over four weeks ago, we boarded this ship with no knowledge of the lines, lab procedures, or parts in the engine room. Now, during our deck watches, sails are set and struck by students with minimal guidance from the mates, and the delegation of hourly tasks is managed entirely by students as well. But with this onset of comfort, we’ve also been given some extra responsibilities: with the GPS covered up and no land to bounce radar signals off of, we have to find our way to New Zealand using dead reckoning and celestial navigation. Additionally, papers and assignments are beginning to pick up as we make our way towards the end of the program (the main reason these blog posts have been coming in late).
But most importantly, during this trip I’ve gotten to know the people around me in ways that I don’t think I ever could have onshore. Even after four weeks of bonding in Woods Hole, I never could have guessed that it would be Alli who would help me coil and hang the jib halyard after I somehow managed to knot it up. I never could have known that it would be Rachel, an ace in the lab since day one, who would help me through my first couple lab watches when I had no clue how to process pH or chlorophyll-a samples. All around me, my shipmates have been stepping up as leaders and taking the initiative to keep our boat running smoothly and efficiently, and watching them tackle every challenge without hesitation has been my biggest inspiration to keep pushing through every rough day, no matter how much I would rather be back in bed.
One last thing I’ve found is that there’s been no better time for reflection and journal-filling than here on this trip. Walking out on deck at any time of day presents a whole new world of sights, sounds and smells that put every day, good or bad, into perspective: the 360 degrees of deep blue ocean that surrounds our tiny, 134-foot vessel. The midnight stars that resemble Disney World’s Space Mountain, only real and alive: twinkling, revolving and shooting across the sky before our very eyes. The moon which, when full, is bright enough to be a nighttime sun. And of course, the sunsets and sunrises that we’ve been treated to everyday. Though we’ve experienced many days of tumultuous seas, tight quarters and few of the luxuries that we have at home, we’ve had an equal or perhaps greater number of moments that are, quite literally, once in a lifetime gifts. As Bill Cowan says in Tuning the Rig, “Anotha’ lousy day in Paradise.”