SEA Currents: s262
What do you do on lookout?
Standing on the monkey deck, tethered around the forestay, I looked out towards the Suva Harbor and looked behind me at the grand Robert C. Seamans and the open ocean. Clusters of shining yellow lights dotted the horizon. A smaller cluster of lights moved across the ocean-a cruise ship heading into Suva. It was a quiet night; I could hear nothing except the waves hitting the ship’s hull until suddenly I heard something that sounded like a fountain.
A Frenzy of Star Frenzies
It is day ten of this leg of sailing from Fiji to Opua, New Zealand, and we have yet to use the GPS! We are living like sailors of yore, plotting our charts using dead reckoning and sun lines and star fixes when it’s clear out (luckily, the weather’s been gorgeous 80% of the time). We’re not nearly at the level of the ancient Polynesians we learned about, who knew wave and weather patterns and all the stars off the top of their heads, but we are becoming proficient with the sextants!
Five Things I Know to be True within the New Zealand EEZ
Five things I know to be true:
1. The wind will change direction in the last ten minutes before watch turnover
2. Befriending the steward has many perks (plus Bex is pretty cool regardless)
3. Foulie pants are worth wearing for midwatch, even when the sky is clear and the stars are out
4. Buffs can and will be used as ear warmers/hats
5. Calling the galley a “kitchen,” the soles “floors” and ladders “stairs” will be met by an eye roll and a prompt correction by mates and other crewmembers.
What’s In Your Net?
I’m a Sociology student; science is not my most comfortable field. But creatures of the ocean fascinate me, and this is one of the reasons I’m here on this boat, 430 nautical miles from nearest land. I’ve always lived on the coast in the UK, but braving a dip in the North Sea can often be more of a frigid in and out affair than your Florida resort lazeabouts – there’s little time to ponder the life swimming around you. I’ve also grown up scuba diving, where the fish you are trying to identify stare you straight in the face, suspended in a rainbow arc.
October’s wake and Armstrong’s canoe
One month at sea is a milestone for students (and for new faculty). SSV Robert C. Seamans departed Pago Pago Harbor in American Samoa near midday on 30 September. In the days that followed I observed our SPICE students forging bonds through common purpose. In this blog space they have written about their evolving skills as working crew on a sailing vessel, and of other bonds, forged in communities in Samoa, Wallis, and Fiji, secured through informal conversation and strengthened through shared experiences of local ceremonies, traditional sailing, and fishing.
Thanks-ween: A day of adventure on the open seas
Today was a mash-up of everyone’s favorite fall holidays with appearances from Saint Balentine and plans for Secret Santa’s being hashed out, so we made sure to cover all of our holiday bases. I was assistant steward today, so my day started just after sunrise to chop pineapple and cut up servings of breakfast for the people. After that I escaped from the galley for nearly the only time today to enjoy a cup of tea while cuddled warmly in my sleeping bag on the starboard side of the ship which is becoming one of my favorite places to be.
Reflections from the Boundless Sea
It’s our 6th day at sea on our 12 day journey to New Zealand, and as much as I can’t wait to step onto unmoving land that lets you walk where you actually want to walk, I’ve also been getting more comfortable and accustomed to our daily routines. Just over four weeks ago, we boarded this ship with no knowledge of the lines, lab procedures, or parts in the engine room. Now, during our deck watches, sails are set and struck by students with minimal guidance from the mates, and the delegation of hourly tasks is managed entirely by students as well.
Life beyond the white noise
I often find myself sitting out on the bow sprit or on top of the doghouse, trying to take a moment just to soak it all in, to understand what it all means and why it’s so important. It is abundantly clear that this experience means more than a semester at school or any other study abroad program for that matter, but I have this feeling deep inside me that there is something going on around me that is changing me.
Passages across Open Oceans are hard to describe to those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience the vast open ocean from the deck of a sailing ship cutting through the waves under the power of the wind alone. Living life on a sailing ship on the open ocean opens ones perspective on the world and creates a feeling of power and strength in the soul while teaching how small and powerless we really are against the supremacy of the elements.
Tarring the bowsprit
Today 3rd Mate Kevo had me tar the rigging on the bowsprit. I wanted to make a bracelet out of line, and I had to give back to the ship before I could take from it. So this afternoon, I filled an old Sriracha bottle with tar, put on gloves and headed onto the bowsprit (the net on the front of the boat). Tarring the bowsprit involves rubbing tar onto the net (rigging). The tar acts as sunscreen for the rigging, protecting it from UV damage.