SEA Currents: s255
October 24, 2014
Top Ten Lists
As we begin thinking about setting sail for Auckland tomorrow, there are lists all over the boat to help us get underway, ranging from the Captain’s list (I’m imagining it includes important things like clearing customs,
plotting our course, and getting a good night’s rest, among other things) to the steward’s list for provisioning (my fingers are crossed that fresh okra, pineapple, and tomatoes make their merry way onto the Seamans) to the engineers’ list (it probably includes things like “efficiently dribble oil on machinery” and “turn on things that make lots of noise” and “share weird facts with the rest of the ship”)...
October 23, 2014
Three Kinds of Fun
Between many of my shipmates and I there has been an ongoing understanding about the ‘three kinds of fun’ that one can find in life. First, there is the fun found in reading a book, watching TV, and relaxing with friends and family. Second, there is the more thrilling fun found from bungee jumping, partying, or exploring new places. This has been one revisited by students and crew throughout the trip, especially when alongside port. I believe the third kind of fun is the most difficult to fully comprehend, but probably one I will better understand by the end of my SEA involvement.
October 22, 2014
Make the Strange Familiar and the Familiar Strange
Today was an on and off rainy day in Suva. The past few days—our port stops in general, actually—have been packed with so much activity that the rain and the quiet mood in me that it brought was a nice relief. Lately, I’ve been thinking about a concept in anthropology that was introduced to us in class back in Woods Hole (doesn’t that seem ages ago): strive to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.
The phrase seems to suggest that while away from home we will experience the strange.
October 21, 2014
Learning to Like New Things
Aboard the Robert C. Seamans one day seems to last a lifetime, as well as pass by in a second. Scrambling into my bunk each night as I lay my head on my pillow it feels almost impossible that it was in fact only twenty-four hours ago when your shipmate nicely cooed you awake that morning by saying your name with an ever-increasing tone of urgency. Before boarding the ship our head resident in Woods Hole, Jeremy, told us to treat the ship as a new country. He explained that with the boat comes a new language, new customs, and a new culture that we would get used to, but that it would also take time.
October 20, 2014
Research in Fiji
For the last three, almost four weeks the students aboard the Robert C. Seamans have been busy learning the language of sailing, getting use to standing watch and becoming accustomed to ship life. In addition, we have been working on student projects because after all this is a sailing school vessel (although sometimes we forget). Usually all we want to do when we first dock at a new island is explore every foreign inch, yet time has to be set aside to find individuals who will answer our burning questions about all sorts of subjects. From Troca shells to sharks and religion to traditional artifacts, our interest range is broad. So venturing off with a buddy to find helpful locals has been a part of this experience.
October 19, 2014
Docked in Fiji
After days of mounting anticipation we arrived in Suva, Fiji. The majority of the morning was spent piloting our way safely into the dock and clearing customs. This was a group effort that involved striking and setting sails and preparing the ship for the dock. Having done this several times already, we whipped through many of the tasks that only a week ago took the entire arrival process for us to complete. In the down time between clearing customs and docking, many of the students and staff spent their time vying over the only Fiji guide book on the boat to plan out our days for when we hit shore.
October 18, 2014
C watch had its first non-squally dawn watch today. This resulted in the first viewing of the Southern Cross, just before a stunning sunrise illuminated the little islands we’d been watching on radar TV throughout the wee hours of the morning. Dawn watch also meant that we had our first “weekend” (off watch for the two consecutive six-hour watches). The consequent naps were much enjoyed.
October 17, 2014
Land Ho, Fiji
Land Ho, Fiji! Today we cruised into the Fijian archipelago, sighting the first few tiny islets early this afternoon. For me, Fiji is the most anticipated destination on our cruise track. Anxious to see what kind of mythical paradise exists behind the square bottles of “volcanically filtered water” and the so-beautiful-it-must-be-retouched photos yielded from a google search, I can’t wait to dock in Suva. The seas have been a bit rougher on this leg of the trip as we finally edge into the path of the south east trade winds, so I’m sure the more sea sick members of our voyage are anxious for docking as well.
October 16, 2014
Arrival of Fall
Fall has finally arrived on the Robert C. Seamans, in the sense that people have started wearing light jackets, pants, and even winter hats! Although the thermometer still read about 27°C on my dawn watch this morning, the wind chill was cool enough that a mug of hot chocolate was desirable. Fall is my favorite season, and although it is technically spring here in the southern hemisphere, it is nice to have a reminder of home. As we make our way to Fiji, the cool crisp air is a nice change from the normal heat and constant dripping of sweat. Below decks are cooling off a bit and bunks are becoming more bearable to sleep in.
October 15, 2014
Traditions in Futuna
A squally evening concludes our first day of sailing towards Suva, Fiji. Rough winds this morning kept us from our planned visit to Alofi, Futuna’s uninhabited neighbor, and the day became routine: DC (daily cleanup), naps, and watch from 1300 to 1900, while the wind kicked in as soon as we left the shelter of Futuna and the ship heeled over and pitched, and a number of us took to familiar clinging positions at the windward rail, gazing with pained fixedness at the horizon (and by a number of us I mean me). As we left Futuna, a pair of boobies (a large, narrow-winged, gangly seabird) swooped about in our lee.