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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans

August 03, 2017

The Adventures of Smew

Nevin Schaeffer, Steward

Protecting the Phoenix Islands

Walking the rocky shelf to meet the small boat after adventures ashore (Cassie, Dylan, Nevin, Abby, Jessima)

Current Position
5°00.98’S x 174°21.33’W

Ship’s Heading & Speed
6.2 knots, 130° PSC

Sail Plan
Motorsailing under the four lowers (mains’l, main stays’l, forestays’l. jib)

12 knot SE wind, 3-5’ wind waves

Souls on Board

This afternoon we, the crew of the Robert C. Seamans, departed our anchorage at Nikumaroro and set forth back into the deep blue expanse of water someone named “The Sea” or “The Ocean” quite a few years before I was born. We waved goodbye to Nikumaroro as our view became shrouded by an oncoming squall and our attention shifted to the path ahead, rather than the port stop behind.

With a ship full of sundrenched adventurers and hundreds of new photos to upload to the computer network I believe I can speak for the entire ship’s company in saying that a great time was had by all.  I personally have stored many wonderful memories to look back on in the future, snorkeling with a manta ray, coconut harvesting in the treetops with a machete at my side and enjoying quiet time with the stars, listening to the symphony of crashing waves and bird calls.

One activity popular during small breaks in the day for us day workers (team galley and engineering who sleep in the night and are up all day) are crossword puzzles. Of course we are nearly always fairly comatose while attempting such puzzles, and as the trip has progressed the lack of sleep has unfortunately correlated quite directly to the distinct lack of Mon/Tue puzzles, leaving us with the treacherous Sat/Sun puzzles. So there we were one day, and this is no joke, there was a fairly normal clue “A small Eurasian duck.” Stumped. So we ask around, to no avail. Even the bird expert onboard (Rich King, Maritime Studies faculty) doesn’t find the answer within his brain even after two hours aloft where all one can do is think and stare. But alas, we do have a dictionary. It is pulled out, the answer is found, and as happens in a small contained place in the middle of nowhere where everybody is most certainly slightly insane a nothing-special crossword clue becomes the biggest joke on board. I challenge you to look in the dictionary to find the answer to this week’s puzzle, no electronics needed. The clue:  “A small Eurasian duck” with the letters S_E_.  Also, we have searched every related book on the ship and have yet to successfully find a picture of this “small Eurasian duck,” if you would like to help our cause please find and sketch a picture of one in a bird book at your local bookstore, and send to us at:

Team Day Workers
c/o SSV Robert C Seamans
approx. position 5°00.98’S x 174°21.33’W
South Pacific Ocean
The Universe

We would be forever grateful and I will personally bake you the cake of your choice.

I went off on a slight tangent there, but the idea of the story still applies. Out here humor is both incredibly important and also comes from the most unexpected places. Bad days happen to everybody, the key is to learn to notice and enjoy the little things. Like seeing your friend laugh on the quarterdeck after a hard day, or biting into a hot gooey cinnamon roll (or let’s be honest, three) when alone in the galley and sweating bullets in front of the ovens, or following a trail of Mr. Good bars to your bunk to find a plate full of cake (Sorry Captain Chris, haven’t pulled that one off yet). Out here you are part of a community so much bigger than yourself, and if you let yourself give into the moment, you will find there are no limits to who you can be, how you can change, and friends to help you along the way.

- Nevin

Previous entry: Believe in the Unbelievable    Next entry: Reflections on the Voyage


#1. Posted by Bruce Alvanas on August 07, 2017

My guess is a seaman bird

#2. Posted by Carole Freeman on August 07, 2017

Perhaps that small duck answers to “Smew.” Of course, having just returned from Iceland, I too am sleep-deprived. 

Adventure on



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