SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
October 13, 2015
We’re All in the Same Boat Now
13° 27.3’ S x 176° 16.6’ W
190° Per Ship’s Compass
Motor-sailing with Main Stays’l and Fore Stays’l set
100% cloud cover, Force 1 very light winds from the west, 26° Celcius
For the first time since arriving in Wallis, today was an absolutely beautiful day! After two full days of 100% cloud cover and persistent rain (I thought we signed up for a trip to the South Pacific Islands, not the Pacific North West…), the gale-force winds finally let up. The sky cleared and the seas calmed to a startlingly clear blue through which we could see baby octopuses frolicking near the dock and sea turtles swimming further out, and the Robert C. Seamans was unpinned from the dock and able to motor away from the island. Captain Sean masterfully guided the ship through the 50 of meter-wide gap in the barrier reef atoll surrounding Wallis (not an easy feat!) and we were able to set sail and begin the approximately six-day leg to Fiji!
Seasickness and general exhaustion continue to occasionally plague a few members of the ship. I’ve been lucky on the seasickness front, and haven’t had to take anti-seasickness medicine for several days, but the fast pace of seafaring life and excitement of being back at sea definitely caught up to me today, and I spent as much of the day as possible in my teeny bunk trying to sleep, rolling around with the rocking of the boat. This roly-poly nap was interrupted by a fire and abandon ship drill, where we got to practice and review our individual roles for each (which include sail handling, operating the fire hoses, and handing out immersion suits). We’re really getting it down, now!
It turns out life aboard the ship isn’t ALL fun and games and keeping watch and doing science. We have been buckling down to memorize the sails and lines and are working on our sheet anchors, which are notebooks full of all the sailing operations information we’re acquiring. We also got our Marine Environmental History and Maritime History and Culture papers that we wrote in Woods Hole back today, so now we have even more work to do in editing them and revising them to include any relevant experiences or data gathered from our time at the various port stops. Ben and Jeff (our professors) assured us that our first drafts were, as a whole, very solid, so hopefully they don’t give us too much grief for the remainder of the trip!
By the evening I was feeling fully rejuvenated, just in time for evening watch, from 7-11pm (or as the nautically-inclined say, 1900-2300). I planned it right and managed to be steering at the helm while the rest of A watch was cleaning the galley (not really, I just got lucky!). I’m getting more confident at the helm, and no longer fear that I’m going to topple the whole ship by doing something wrong. The real excitement of the night occurred during my 2100 boat check, when I came across a Tropical Bird hanging out by the port side life raft! I didn’t recognize the type, but Kevo the 3rd mate identified it (and named it ‘Samson,’ I know you’ll like that, Mom!). It was mostly white with black, and a beautiful long tail feather. It was just resting for a while, before it flew off a couple of hours later. I was hoping it would stay, because every ship needs a parrot, right?
Spirits are high on the ship among students and crew alike. Many people have expressed appreciation for being unplugged from the “real world,” and haven’t even sought out Internet when it is available at port (I promise I’m happy and healthy, Mom and Dad! Sorry I haven’t emailed!) We’re definitely in our own little world aboard the Seamans, and it certainly is a wonderful one!
Until next time,