SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
October 25, 2017
Thirty Days On
22° 11.7’S x 176° 58.5’E
Ship’s Heading & Speed
180° PSC, making 5 knots sailing on a port tack
Force 4 winds from the East, full cloud cover, high of 30˚Celsius
Today marks one month since my shipmates and I boarded the ship in American Samoa. In many ways the time aboard has flown, yet Pago Pago seems like ages ago. The boat has definitely become my home in these short 30 days. It’s tough to imagine taking a shower everyday, sleeping in a perfectly still bed, or being awakened by an alarm. Ship life is my new normal, and I kind of dig it. Let me tell y’all land readers a few reasons why this lifestyle is so great.
1. Life is very intentional
I’d like to say my day to day life on land is purposeful, but that’s not always the case. Just about everyone is guilty of going through the motions sometimes, when what you’re doing doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. This is far from the case on the boat. Everything we do is extremely intentional. We steer a set compass heading because we are trying to get somewhere. We secure knives under cutting boards because the might slide on a rogue swell. We turn off the sewage pump during science deployments because we don’t want to skew the data we collect. Everything matters, and everything is done for a reason. For me, this constant sense of purpose feels pretty gratifying.
2. Nobody Cares
This 35-person strong community has become a lovely judgment-free zone. Nobody cares if you reek of seawater and sweat. Nobody cares if you have worn the same shirt for days. Nobody cares if you destroy the midships head after your third cup of coffee. Well… the person doing morning chores might care about that. The point is, life on the boat is very “what you see is what you get”. I learned real quick that there was no use in hiding anything in this 135 by 20 foot by 14 foot space-you just won’t get away with it. Like it or not, this smelly, tight, unconventional living space makes for a liberatingly genuine environment.
3. Off the Grid
We are out here, baby. Middle of nowhere. The nautical boonies. For the most part, we go days without seeing land or other boats. Come to think of it, we’ve probably seen more whales than boats. If not whales, then shooting stars. That’s pretty amazing. In port, we can catch up on the world’s happenings, but that’s the only contact we have outside of our small community. Of course it’s hard not being able to talk to friends and family back home, but that just makes the group here all the more tight knit. There’s truly nothing to worry about apart from the people directly around you and the hull beneath your feet.
Fast or slow, time aboard the ship marches on. The 1AM to 7AM watch almost always seems to crawl. The hot, freshwater showers never fail to be much too quick. But when I think about the expanse of ocean we’ve covered, spectacular places we’ve been and people we’ve met, I can’t help but think I’ve crammed a decade’s worth of memories into this one semester. This freeing, accepting, purposeful place is my home, and when it’s all said and done, I’m going to miss it.
Happy Birthday to two special mothers-my mom and Jeff’s mom! I love you mom and can’t wait to see you soon!