SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
March 07, 2015
YOU SHALL NOT PASS. Out of Wellington So Covered in Mung!
41° 17.120’ N x 174° 46.797’ W
Alongside the dock in Wellington- where we’ve been for nearly a week now!
Weather / Wind
Wind 10-15 knots, sometimes gusting up to 20 knots from the NE
Good evening from a damp night here on the other side of the world! The full moon moon is shining, the wind is blowing, and Mama Seamans is clean-after a day of preparation, she and her crew are ready for our departure from Wellington tomorrow afternoon and the continuation of our adventure.
A watch started this morning with sponges in hand, performing the daily ritual of DC, or dawn cleaning. As the clock struck half-past eight we all rolled into another study hall morning, using the extra port time kindly
given by a passing low pressure system to work on essays and projects whose due dates are looming on the horizon. Conversation topics in the salon have ranged widely over the past two mornings, moving from the carving of Maori fish hooks, to the effects of changing temperatures on zooplankton biodiversity, to the various birdcalls found in the New Zealand bush, thanks to our new guest Richard. Even with so much work of our own to focus on, it's been fascinating to eavesdrop on the discussions of our neighbors and hear how their projects have evolved over our weeks here in New Zealand.
After lunch, several students took advantage of a brief free period to check out the Wellington underground market, shrugging into foulies and braving a rainstorm for $10 vintage maps and Maori craftsmen-carved jade necklaces. Purchases carefully stowed under jackets and out of the rain, students then raced back to the ship to begin another Field Day, the third battle in our continued fight against the dreaded ship-board dirt we know as mung. A rousing sermon from the Defender of Soles himself, Reverend Chuck Lea, spurred us into action against our enemy. Though the rain took over some of our work on deck, this only allowed greater focus on the mung gathered in secret enemy fortresses belowdecks. Thanks to the help of many an Iggy Azalea song and the occasional contribution of Taylor Swift, the Robert C. Seamans emerged from our battle victorious.
The afternoon also played host to run-throughs of several of the drills necessary to prepare us for an emergency on our ship, including a collision, a fire, an abandon ship call, and a man overboard. Though we may have temporarily startled a passing coast guard ship with our general alarm, it was impressive to watch the crew move together like a well-oiled machine to respond quickly to each hypothetical emergency.
Our second break of the afternoon saw most students hurrying out of the ship together to enjoy a few last precious hours of free wi-fi, heading out to local cafes and back to the Te Papa museum to send last minute emails and let family know that we would be returning to sea the following morning. Shortly afterwards, the scent of baking dough drew many of us back to the ship for a smorgasbord pizza dinner. A watch then took up our sponges for the third time today for galley clean-up, done at lightning speed to ensure that nobody missed the main event of the night: a special showing, in the salon, of the first Lord of the Rings movie.
Surrounded by the reorganized salon bench cushions and curled in our sleeping bags for part one of Frodo and company's adventures, we broke into Lauren's home-made popcorn and broke out long-awaited favorite quotes, with a few more dedicated fans clearly resisting the urge to speak the whole movie aloud. Given our visit to Kaitoke Regional Park the other day, we all were hoping to catch a glimpse of the places we had visited during the Rivendell scenes filmed there; however, general consensus seemed to be that most trees in the park look the same.
The ship is quiet as most of our crew settles in for our last night of anchor watch and the comforts that come with being docked. Though the most severe winds of our area's offshore low pressure system have passed, the waves they generated will likely still be around, and all are anticipating a few bumpy nights ahead. Regardless, it seems that everyone here is restless to shove off of our dock and get some canvas up. There are a little less than two weeks remaining in our trip, hard as it is to believe, and still there's much to be done. Many students, like myself, still have data to gather from the highly productive frontal zone and the chilly sub-Antarctic waters to the south, and we're looking forward to seeing what kind of strange new creatures the Neuston tows will haul up from these new waters. Papers must be finished, data visualized, and the heft of Moby Dick vanquished at last. The coming weeks will also see us shift into the junior watch officer and junior lab officer phases of our training, in which we step into our leaders' shoes for the duration of a watch and assume the responsibility of organizing our peers and making decisions for the group.
I've heard the expression "the grass is always greener on the other side" many a time, and have been wondering if there's an equivalent for sailors. The wind you haven't yet caught is always fairer? The waves beneath you are always rougher than the waves ahead? The beer is always cheaper in the next port of call? No matter how you say it, I'm beginning to get the sense that these sailors are ready for that new wind, those waves ahead, and that unknown place on the horizon. We have had a fantastic five days here in Wellington, but it's time for the next challenge-and the fact that a few of us are leaving with lighter pockets than we arrived with will only make it a bit easier for the winds to push our ship back out into the deep waters we've all come to love.