SEA Currents: polynesia.
Fijian boats inspire SEA Semester students & Disney film “Moana”
This October, the students of SEA Semester S-269 (Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems) voyaged through Polynesia, interacting with local communities just one month before the release of the Disney feature film “Moana.” Students spent two days with the people of Nakorova village, on the island of Viti Levu in Fiji, learning traditional sailing from the same people who advised on and inspired the magnificent sailing scenes depicted in “Moana.” Our gracious host, Jiujiua “Angel” Bera, is featured in a short Moana featurette.
A Pretty Unreal Day
It’s impossible to count how many times today my shipmates and I paused to look at each other in amazement and exclaim how unreal our life feels right now. My day began with a 0600-0700 dock watch, during which I woke up fellow ship mates, sipped on coffee and watched a beautiful sunrise over the harbor. Next up was a buttery crepe breakfast, complete with blueberry sauce and lemon slices for garnishing. Sound good yet?
Meanders in Nuku’alofa
Today was our second day in Nuku’alofa and it started with a successful field day; not so much an entire day but more like three hours of intensely cleaning our lovely Mama Seamans and ridding her of any weird smells, fondly referred to as ‘mung’ among the ship’s crew. C watch got us all pumped and ready to clean by very creatively improvising words of popular songs to reflect our upcoming task. A personal favorite is “Everybody’s Mung-Fu Fighting!” It was a performance that I am very glad to have experienced.
Riddles in the Dark
I don’t care how snooty this is going to sound, but it’s never a bad day when the first two obstacles I have to overcome are the butter annoyingly sliding off my blueberry pancakes and squinting through the sunrise at the view of an island I’ve never seen before. This is SEA Semester’s first time voyaging to the Kingdom of Tonga, and one could truly feel the cumulative excitement in the air as all 37 of us prepared to explore a new place for the first time, together.
This morning my day started off with dock watch at 0600. The mornings here are cool, calm, and have beautiful sunrises. At 0700 we had a wonderful breakfast of oatmeal and delicious condiments cooked by our amazing steward (Cook) Bex. Today was one of the best days here in Tonga. We met with a local Tongan woman named Peti who brought her granddaughter and her friend.
Botany and Marine Biology in Tonga
Today I woke up at 0600 for my dock watch to a beautiful sunrise in Vava’u, Tonga, and it set the tone for what was going to be the best day yet of this trip. After an awesome breakfast made by Cooney, our honorary steward, and reassured the incoming cargo ship was not going to kick us off the dock, we were let loose to explore the market before heading out for the rest of the day’s activities. The market is a wonderful place to see the different handicrafts in Vava’u.
Our first full day in Tonga was filled with much excitement as we explored parts of Vava’u and met with people from the Vava’u Environmental Protection Association (VEPA)! Today began with a 0800 pin rail chase in which the watches competed against one another, relay style, to find each line we were told. All of the watches did great, all finishing around the same time, but C Watch won by just a hair!
Getting onto shore, we met with Karen, Courtney, Seini, Meredith, and Lisa from VEPA.
Whose Line is It, Anyway?
Greetings from Vava’u! Mama Seamans made her way into Tonga at roughly 1300 this morning. Barely recovered from dawn watch, which ended at 0700, I forced my sleepless self from my bunk and up on deck to join my shipmates in their eagerness to reach land. It is now 1552, and I sit in the on-board library writing this as a few Tongan customs agents are guided throughout our floating home by our Captain Jay.
Us students seem to be acclimating well to life at sea.
Ko rapa, Kiribati!
“It’s an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to sea √ whether it is to set sail or to watch it √ we are going back from whence we came.” - JFK
Today was a unique experience aboard the Robert C. Seamans because we had two groups of high school students from Kiritimati Island visit the ship. They did some sail handling and checked out some creatures that we’d caught in the neuston net through the microscopes.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a fair wind
Christmas really is the most wonderful time of year, and my time in Christmas Island has definitely been some of the most wonderful of 2016. Having started my voyage with SEA Semester in New Zealand with class S265, I have quite a few nautical miles under my metaphorical belt, including quite a few from bumming around Tahiti. Seeing Christmas Island as we made anchor yesterday, however, I was blown away by its beauty.