SEA Currents: s257
Passage to Wellington
Life teems and excitement stirs as our passage to Wellington nears an end. Today, we headed south into the productive, Chatham Rise waters to obtain a little more data and information on what lives and thrives in the colder southerly current. Thanks to those extra few degrees of south latitude, we encountered swarming albatross aplenty, (who seem to know the ins and outs of the waves better than Mama Seamans herself) a few seals, basking and fishing in the chilly water; and even a glimpse of a pair of pilot whales, mother and child, lumbering by.
Eat, Sleep, Sail
One month ago we were confined to our cottages in Woods Hole waiting out a blizzard that put New England under a record amount of snow. Fast forward to yesterday evening and we were getting ready, yet again, for a different kind of weather event. Forecasts told of an approaching cold front with strong southerly winds to follow. The evening started quietly, as the setting sun filled the cloud-spotted sky with colors of orange, and Lauren, our multi-talented steward, played her musical stylings on a violin.
On Burritos and Sextants
One of the harder things to keep track of on the ship is the incredible amount of food that we are eating. 3 meals a day and 3 snacks strategically placed a few hours after meal times to help wash meals down. Behind the scenes of these meals, we have our amazing steward, Lauren, who has been mentioned before on this blog. Today was a special day for Lauren-it was her day off! And her place was filled with the professional crew on the ship.
An Unconventional 21st Birthday
The first hour of my 21st birthday was an eventful one. I was on watch, actively handling sails, surveying the surrounding waters for boat traffic at the bow, and balancing on the bowsprit in preparation to set the jib. The winds and swells were intense; it was as if I was a pinball, and the ship was a giant pinball game, making simple maneuvers much more difficult. However, the clear skies were a recipe for great stars, and I was finally able to locate the components of the Celestial G without the help of Stu, my watch officer.
Phase Two: Shadowing
A couple days ago began phase two of our three-phase process aboard the ship. Phase one was an instructional phase where everyone got the hang of things here on the ship. Phase two is where one person in each watch shadows our watch officer, either the assistant scientist in the lab, or the mate on deck. Then phase three is when we assume the role of a junior watch officer or a junior lab officer and we are in charge of the watch.
Watch Games 2015: A Salty Showdown
It is every sailor’s dream to be the winner of a line-identifying competition, in which we demonstrate that we have “learned the ropes.” This phrase was coined by the sailors of old to describe the need to learn the name and function of every line on the ship. However, it should be noted that we have no ropes on the ship, because once ropes have a purpose they are referred to as “lines.” In this sacred game, the ceremonies begin with the students separating into their designated watch groups-A, B, and C.
Volcanic Islands, Smooth Sailing
The first navigation stars now open their bright eyes. The fading embers in the sky die down and the ship is becoming quiet below deck. Students now dedicating time to study and sleep. The galley is getting a spruce up, as it does every night after a hard day of work. It needs it! In the good hands of the evening watch it will be shining again at 4:15 when the steward and student assistant get up to begin breakfast.
Headed for the High Seas
It has been merely 34 hours since we shoved off on our 13-day passage from Bay of Islands to Wellington and the days are already beginning to blend together. Our first night voyage closed with a bow wave glowing with bioluminescent star streaks, met by a “sky that resembled a back lit canopy with holes punched in it” (as described in a song by Incubus). We have been following the Southern Cross that outshines the Milky Way cast in a band around it.
Heading to Sea
Today marked our last day in northern New Zealand. Normal wake up calls sounded below decks at our anchorage in Russell followed by our first all-watch, ship-wide field day. Field day is the crew’s weekly battle against the unending tide of dirt and grime on the ship, where all three watches combine forces to maintain cleanliness onboard for another seven days. Having filtered the solids out of our cleaning grey water and dumped it overboard into the bay there was obviously only one way to unwind after our victorious battle against grime - a swim call!
Greetings from Russell
I have the good fortune to be writing this from the bow of our ship the Robert C. Seamans, nestled down with some tea and overlooking the sunset. The boat is blanketed in the kind of quiet that only follows a full day of adventure and excitement. This morning we rose before the sun to catch the ferry to Waitangi across the bay. By the time we arrived the sun was out and shining for our stroll to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where we reunited with two of our dinner guests from last night—Mori Rapana, a man who has vast knowledge concerning Maori history and tradition, and his mentor Matua Wiremu Williams, a Maori elder whose openness and insight never ceased to amaze us.