SEA Currents: culture
October 10, 2015
Landfall in Wallis
Today was the day we had all been waiting for. Although we came within a mile of Wallis yesterday, we couldn’t enter the harbor because the high swells would have made the narrow entry too risky. Today, however, the swells were smaller, and Captain Sean deemed it safe for us to enter. We aimed to pass through the 300 foot wide channel at around 1000 local time, when the tide was supposed to be favorable.
October 09, 2015
Under sail again
Today is our second full day underway from Mallorca, heading towards Cádiz. There are some pretty big swells, but other than that the weather is nice and mostly clear right now. We had a little rain last night, but then the stars came out, and it’s great to be able to see the Milky Way band (our whole galaxy sideways!) and various constellations. This sail is about three times as long as the passage from Barcelona to Mallorca that we already did, but fortunately we’ve been having less seasickness overall than last time around, and seem to be adjusting better so far.
October 04, 2015
Wet and Wild: A Samoan Adventure
It’s hard to describe a day that starts with a 4:45am trip to the fish market and ends with sunset sailing on the bow of an ancient Polynesian replica double hulled canoe. The floodlit bustle of cold fish slapping countertops was one of the more surreal wakeups I have experienced. To say that our little group of camera flashing college students felt out of place would be an understatement, but the vendors were happy to point out parrot fish neatly spear caught in nearby reefs, whole and glistening yellowfin tuna, and giant dinner plate slabs of albacore steak two inches thick.
September 17, 2015
Meet Our Faculty: Dr. Jeff Wescott
For the 2015-16 school year, SEA Semester welcomes several new faculty to our roster. Periodically, we’ll introduce them to you on this blog.
First up: Meet Dr. Jeff Wescott, our new Assistant Professor of Anthropology.
September 14, 2015
Harvard’s John Huth Speaks on Navigation, Marshall Islands-Style
One of the hallmarks of a SEA Semester education is learning to navigate the ocean by traditional methods. We don’t reject modern conveniences like GPS, but we’re strong believers in preserving time-tested approaches to understanding the world around us—a form of cultural sustainability, if you will.
Starting in the classroom and continuing on board our ships, we teach our students how the sun, stars, moon, and other celestial cues can help them locate their position on Earth and, by extension, reach their desired destinations. Today, we hosted Harvard University Professor John Huth, who presented class S-262, Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems, with a detailed look at techniques used for centuries by dwellers of the remote Marshall Islands to chart paths, negotiate waves, and handle winds.
June 06, 2015
Field trip to Waimea Valley
When we went to Waimea Valley, we were able to see and experience in person a taste of the ancient Hawai’ian culture and practices that we had studied in the classroom. Every person we talk to enriches our understanding of the deep connections between the resource management and spirituality of the ancient Hawai’ian’s. Kaila Alva (education and outreach coordinator), who works at Waimea Valley, taught us about the sacredness and importance of the Ahupua’a watershed system and the work that she and others are doing to preserve it today.
June 05, 2015
Aloha ‘Aina, Hawaii Pacific University, SEA Semester, Day 2
Day two was met with a clear sky and the presence of sunshine, a nice change from the abundant rains of the windward side of the island of O’ahu that we experienced yesterday. The dorm was buzzing this morning as we all started settling into new routines in our unfamiliar territory and prepared for our impending twelve hours of classroom time. Our captain, Sean, presented our first task as he introduced us to the art of charting and navigation in a manner that did not require a satellite or GPS.
March 11, 2015
Field Trip to the Kalinago Territory
4:45 am, rise and shine! My day begins with deck watch taking bearings and doing boat checks making sure all is well while the crew slowly wakes up. Another glorious sunrise, and it’s time to set the flags-one under which we sail, America, and a courtesy flag of the country we are in, Dominica. “Wai’tukubuli” “tall is her body” is what the indigenous people call the island for her tall forested mountains.
March 05, 2015
Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand
Greetings from Windy Wellington! And it appears that it really will live up to its name—with up to 45-knot winds forecasted in the upcoming days, it is unlikely that we will be leaving our port until Sunday. While we are disappointed that we will have to wait a few extra days until we can have the wind in our sails again, it is pretty hard to complain at the moment. I am writing this from the top of the doghouse, basking in the sun while others lounge and read and our vagabond visitor Anthony strums on the guitar.
March 01, 2015
The Scholar Ship
As the historian on board, I’d like to take a few paragraphs and put our voyage into a broader context, as we sail in the wake of some really interesting mariners, beginning with the Polynesians who crossed the Pacific in double-hulled voyaging canoes and arrived in New Zealand around 800 years ago. What the Maori found here was very different from what they left behind on tropical islands like Tahiti, as New Zealand has a temperate climate.