SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
April 23, 2014
Trade Winds Sailing
9° 58’N x 144° 56’ W
Course & Speed
320° per standard compass at 7.5 knots
Four lowers (1st reef in mainsail)
Partly cloudy, NExE wind force 6, gusts to 7
We’re currently experiencing one of the epic days of sailing on this trip. The NE trade wind is blowing fresh and the Seamans is on a starboard tack close reach, heeling and making for some dynamic sailing. There is an occasional splash of spray over the windward side and even more occasionally a flying fish has been turning up on deck, having been carried aboard with the wind. Yesterday we made our best day’s run of the trip having logged 155.3 miles in 24 hours. This is the homeward stretch toward Hilo and the trade winds are expected for the duration.
Phase III of the program went into effect on Sunday and the students have been admirably demonstrating the skills learned aboard in their leadership roles as Junior Watch Officers (JWO). It’s easy to spot the deck JWO as they are required to wear a homemade - let’s call it a shirt - article of clothing with a large “JWO” insignia on it. The Junior Lab Officer wears another article of clothing, a tutu made from old Neuston net, that would certainly get you denied a seat in a restaurant if you were to even get past the door.
The students are assigned to professional Watch Officers on their first day aboard and approximately every two weeks the Watch Officers rotate, thereby giving all the students some exposure to all three Watch Officers for both lab and deck. On the occasions when this occurs the Captain (me) and Chief Scientist stand in for the Watch Officers. They get some extra rest. But the most recent transition was also the ship’s transition through the northern boundary of the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). It was raining for almost four hours; probably the longest duration of continuous rain this trip, all on my watch.
This morning’s science station included the famous “styrocast.” In addition to sending a Meter net down into the depths of the ocean, a stocking with personalized and decorated Styrofoam cups was attached to the hydro-wire. It’s amazing what the pressure at 1,500 meters deep will do to the cups. They end up looking like large thimbles and the creative coloring gets compressed.
If you’re wondering if it’s hot down here near the Equator the answer is yes, though as we move north it has actually cooled slightly over the past day or two. Even a one or two degree change when the temperature has been so constant is quite noticeable and, as far as I’m concerned, most welcome.
We have sailed well over 2,000 miles so far, crossed the Equator, had a taste of exotic fruits from even more exotic locations, made a transition from late winter in New England to the tropics, having a roof over our heads to being tossed about in a 134 foot nautical vehicle. However, another transition is looming too. The transition back to the life we all left six weeks ago. That is often the biggest transition of all: adjustment to the lives we led before this experience. Though, some of use never re-adjust!
Greetings to all those following this blog.