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SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans

March 21, 2017

Where Oh Where are the Whales?

Sierra Toomey, B-Watch, Eckerd College

The Global Ocean

B-Watch (best watch)

Current Location
Just outside of Lyttleton

Ship’s Heading & Speed
160° at 3.70 Knots

Overcast. 14.6°C, Seas are SE 4 ft, Wind is E Force 4, Skies are 8/8; Stratus.

Souls on Board

After arriving on deck to begin afternoon watch I learned, from a reliable source, that we were sailing in a whale sanctuary. To some this fact would be described as “cool” or “exciting”, but to me this information was life altering. I love whales. I admit it. Maybe a little too much, but I have dreamed of one day seeing these majestic creatures up close and personal. Yet the sea, at least what was visible on the surface, was absent of whales. These miraculous creatures must not have read the signs informing them that they were in an area of safety, and that being anywhere else could be deadly. We must get someone to make sure that the areas are clearly marked so that they don’t become confused. We did, however, have what seemed to be a reunion of petrels that followed the ship as we sailed along our path, twenty-one of them to be exact.

On another note, we had class today, what a surprise considering it is Tuesday and we usually have class on Tuesdays. We were informed of the “withah” and then serenaded with some glorious singing from A watch to the tune of “I don’t want to live forever”. Accompaniment brought to our ears by Elsbeth and Eileen on penny whistles and Anna C. on the triangle. During the song one of the petrels decided to do some flybys and came close to the singers. After the weather report we were given a summary of scientific extremes on the boat, which was basically a summary of all highs and lows in the data we had recorded. To summarize, we had observed 888 birds and 20 dolphins throughout the trip. The surprise information given at the end of the presentation was a salp total. I’m sure many of you have heard plenty about salps by now, but we had just gotten some new numbers from a recent tow, which may be interesting to those fascinated by our salp journey. We pulled up 55 liters of salps in our last meter net. Thankfully, a majority of them were under two centimeters, which means that they did not need to be individually counted.

The next section of class was electing our S-271 class representative. We nominated four candidates; Rose, Julia, Shem and myself, and then took an anonymous vote. I ended up being chosen much to my surprise, and was tasked with handing out evaluation sheets and then collecting them before turning them back over to the aft cabin crew. After class we went straight into a Man Overboard drill where B-Watch finally did what we were destined, maybe not destined but it is our job in emergency situations, to do. Sail handling. The engineers turned on the motor and we ended up tacking for the first time, for those at home this is a tricky maneuver where the bow of the ship is turned through the wind. This allowed us to turn in a circle before deploying the rescue boat, closer to the MOB poles and life ring we had tossed overboard. Once the drill was complete and we had everything back in place B-Watch took back the deck, this meant that I was now JWO. The rest of watch was filled with gybing, snack, and slack jaw dancing (for those confused by this statement view included blog picture).

Though this is just a summary of events from today I would like to include a section about what I have learned so far aboard the Bobby C.

  1. Learn your lines. As the sail handling watch this is curtail and makes life a lot easier once you understand what things do and where they are.
  2. Wear sunscreen. You. Will. Burn.
  3. Wear layers. You. Will. Be. Cold.
  4. You have to pull your weight no matter how sick or tired you may be.
  5. The salon is not a place to stand when dinner is coming out.
  6. You can get all of your work done and still be a functioning human being, most of the time.
  7. Peanut butter, saltines, and hot cocoa.
  8. You and your watch will become a family.
  9. Floors, Bathrooms, Ceilings, Kitchens, and Stairs do not exist.
  10. No matter how difficult it was at times I will miss waking up at 1230 to spend the next six hours fighting through a gale. I will miss being pounded with rain and ocean spray. I will miss the jokes, laughter, and conversations that made watches fly by.

Though we only have a few days of our program left and I should be sad, I am not. I will miss being at sea but I have found a family that I will forever remember and have made friendships that will last through the years. I will end this sappy section of the blog with what has become tradition; a haiku.

Memories from sea:

Bobbing through the gale,
Glimmering star filled dawn watch,
Sweet as; life is good.

- Sierra

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,The Global Ocean: New Zealand, • Topics: s271  megafauna  life at sea • (2) Comments
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#1. Posted by Patty Beech on March 21, 2017

Hello Sailors,

My daughter, Talia, leaves for New Zealand on March 24, and will board the Robert C. Seamans on March 30 for her adventure with SeaSemester.

I began reading your blogs to get an understanding of what life at sea will entail for my daughter and the classmates and crew she will share her adventure with.

Your writing is funny and informative and lovely! The haikus make me cry!  Best wishes on your next adventure, and thanks for reassuring a worried (and envious) Mom that her daughter is about to embark on a life-changing experience with friends she will have for a lifetime!

Patty Beech

#2. Posted by Ian Attwood on March 23, 2017

The deadly 7.8 Kaikoura quake was so powerful, parts of the South Island are now six metres closer to the North Island, new research has revealed.



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