SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
March 01, 2020
The Modern Mariner
At anchor at Great Barrier Island
This past Friday night may have marked one of my favorite nights aboard the Robert C. Seamans thus far. Yes - I really mean that, and we've had some pretty good times, so there's definitely some strong competition. The class members of "Sense of Place" - a seminar-based +SEA elective that ponders the complexity of place-related connectedness through relevant literature, often specific to New Zealand and coastal/oceanic environments - put on a visual reading of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" on the quarter deck. The cast consisted of myself, Kaitlyn, Amelia, Lilli, Devon, Matthew, featuring Ashby and directed by Rich King. For those who have not read "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," it's a poem that, to me, is ultimately an ode to environmentalism. It quotes: "He prayeth well, who loveth well/ Both man and bird and beast." It portrays the importance of coexisting with the natural world and all things that survive on this planet we call home.
This timeless lesson seems to be especially relevant today, and is something I've been thinking about a lot throughout the last two months, especially in "Sense of Place" (aka SOP). Meeting up with the 'Notorious SOP' was always something I looked forward to while on shore, and even while at sea the course's productivity has not disappointed. Being a part of that class has allowed me to open up to a new way of thinking that I feel like I have been stifling for most of my college career. As an earth science major, for a long time I thought that was all I was going to be. I thought science was my present and my future. I never thought it could thrive on the same plane as art and creativity. I was ignorantly convinced that the right side of my brain couldn't work in harmony with the left.
This trip has taught me that being a mariner is much more complex than I ever could have thought before. It's so much more than knowing how to rig a ship or tie a bowline. Being a mariner is about the connection that one has with the sea around them; a conscious presence that is so strong to the natural world as we know it. Being a mariner is about seeing the beauty in every angle of the ocean. It's about having the ability to coexist with nature in a space so wondrous as Earth.
About three weeks ago an eager group of 25 college students boarded the Robert C. Seamans in Auckland, New Zealand. We all come from different colleges and backgrounds, we have different future aspirations and talents, but ultimately, we are connected by something much deeper. The Bobby C is packed with modern mariners who love the sea more deeply than they probably even know. We are a dynamic group of academics and artists, consisting incompletely of scientists, engineers, musicians, chefs, authors, and actors, living together in a world that has always made me feel like we must choose one, but aboard a ship that has convinced me that I will never have to.
- Juliette Bateman