SEA Currents: s254
July 28, 2014
Keeper of the Coconuts
Today marks a full week since we sailed out of the blinding blue lagoon of Kanton, and I am still hearing echoes of Kantonian kindness and generosity, trailing us around the ship as we make our way to our last two island stops in the protected area. Dried, faded flower crowns hang on the tiki in the doghouse, shell necklaces spruce up bunks and cabins, and people constantly pop their heads into the galley to ask me for a coconut from the reefer, where crates and crates of the precious commodity lie in waiting.
July 27, 2014
Earlier this evening around 18:45 we bid farewell to the beautiful island of Orona. Orona was a blast, but I am excited to be underway again and start getting back into the swing of things because lets face it, anchor watch + a gorgeous island starts making me (relatively) lazy. Today was one of those lethargic anchor watch days. After dawn watch and a quick dawn clean-up I decided not to join the snorkeling parties and just have a chill day bonding with the boat.
July 26, 2014
Orona is one of the more recently occupied Phoenix Islands, abandoned as recently as 2002. As far as the crew knows, the occupants left primarily due to mass reef fish poisoning and lack of copra (dried coconut), their primary export and source of income. The settlement initiative reflected a venture by the British Empire commenced some sixty years earlier. Sensing an imminent overpopulation crisis in the Gilbert Islands, British colonial officials planned to resettle as many as 1,100 Gilbertese to Orona once the initial pioneer settlement had become self-sufficient.
July 25, 2014
The Wonders That are the Phoenix Islands
Hello world, I (Brendan, a student from C watch) would like to enlighten you to the wonders that are the Phoenix Islands. The ocean holds all sorts of crazy creatures, and today it decided to put on a show. We on the Seamans started our day by anchoring a little bit offshore of Orona, the most recent stop on our trek through PIPA. While we were sitting calmly off the reefs, the local fish and bird populations had a very violent disagreement.
July 22, 2014
Anchored off The Island of the Sun
Today marks our third and last day amongst the I-Kiribati of the Phoenix Islands. The morning marked a last and intensive run of shore, snorkeling and science missions upon the island as well as in its beautiful lagoon. After a morning of snorkeling amongst the reef sharks that patrol and police the fish throughout the wreck of the President Taylor steam ship and Manta Rays that silently guard the lagoon entrance between the dredged channel of Spam Island and quiet remains of a long forgotten hotel on the opposing shore; the crew of the Seamans was given a most fond farewell not likely to be forgotten.
July 21, 2014
The Island of Kanton
The Robert C. Seamans has now spent two full days at anchor in this beautiful lagoon. The students and crew seem to be adjusting to island life really well. And how could they not? This island is simply magical. Everywhere you look this island is teeming with wildlife. Crabs scurry about like squirrels in North America. As you walk down the path and hear ascampering, it is likely a crab or one of the few pigs the local villagers own.
July 20, 2014
Kanton is gorgeous. Today was characterized by the buzzing flurry of small boats continually buzzing to and from our ship, taxiing people to shore and taking scientists out on sea missions. Everyone was roused good and early so that we could all make the most the day. A and B watch left in the morning to explore the island.
Kanton itself is an astounding convergence of beautiful plants, birds, waters and invertebrates all cast against a shroud of haunting, gorgeous ruins.
July 19, 2014
I woke up this morning and thought I felt the boat rock just enough to think that once again, we had failed to maintain the anchor and she had drifted. Thankfully, that was just a byproduct of my early morning grogginess and we were (and still are) anchored right outside Kanton island!
We have spent 3 weeks together aboard this ship and have been waiting for today to finally go ashore at Kanton and meet the thirty or so residents of the island.
July 18, 2014
Kanton: Population 35
Hello there land dwellers! Us seadogs have set eyes on the beautiful island of Kanton (or Canton) today, the only human inhabited island of all the Phoenix Islands. Population:35 Elevation: just a couple meters. We left our previous spot near Enderbury yesterday and sailed throughout the night to approach our new destination. We took our sweet time sailing so that we could deploy the Hydrocast, MOCNESS and do a neuston tow near an uncharted seamount.
July 16, 2014
It has been a long couple of weeks, but we finally heard the cry of “Land Ho!” as we approached the Island of Enderbury. There are about 10 palm trees on the island, some other vegetation, and a plethora of birds. While I was asleep this morning, the crew on watch dropped the anchor but it did not hold. On our second attempt to anchor in the afternoon we found a shallower location and paid out the anchor slowly rather than just letting it go.