SEA Currents: s262
Bye Bye Fiji
After a couple of days in the beautiful city of Suva, Fiji, it is time to hit the road again; or in our case the waves. But, there is still so much to be done before being able to leave. In a matter of hours, the ship must transform from a land laden boat to a salty sea ferrying vessel. Headed out into the vast blue unknown, we need to rid ourselves of that which is not useful.
An Unforgettable Traditional Experience
What a journey it has been. Life aboard the Robert C. Seamans has been a truly enriching experience for us all. The past few weeks have been filled with demanding labor, hearty laughs and some adverse weather. But alas! Fiji. Just three days prior, Suva welcomed us with rugged green mountains, idyllic beaches, and castaways defining the term paradise. Paradise it has been, as students and crew members have had time to unwind from life at sea.
When the U.S. Exploring Expedition anchored in Fiji in 1842, the men aboard paced nervously, for they knew what waited for them beyond the seductive, white sand beaches; cannibals. Fiji (known then notoriously as the cannibal isles) was home to some of the most savage man-eaters in the Pacific whose appetite for human flesh was matched only by their prowess in war.
First full day in Fiji and I can already tell I’ll want to come back one day. After talking to some of my classmates it seems as though everyone had a great day. Half of the class went on a day sail with students from the University of the South Pacific and others. I was part of the crew that got the day to explore what Suva has to offer. I left the ship at 0830 and headed to the market.
How to Become a Salty Sailor
A few days ago we started phase two of the sailing portion of the program.
In this phase we are getting more responsibilities and honing our sailing skills. To quantify these skills the mates made a checklist, which includes knowing where all the lines are, the parts of the sails, the lookouts responsibility, etc. Although these skills are crucial for us to safely take on more responsibilities, there is a lot more to becoming a truly salty Seaman.
Even though at sea we have a very busy routine that limits us to mostly just eating, sleeping, and being on watch, we still manage to have a “weekend”. Now, our weekend only lasts about 12 hours but we get them every three days. Having a weekend means that you do not have the morning watch (0700-1300) or the afternoon watch (1300-1900). And just like weekends in the “real world”, we don’t get them without a week worth of work. Before getting to the weekend a watch must have the 3am dawn watch.
Cruising alongside the Pacific
Fifth day of continuous sailing from Wallis. This is by far the longest passage of the program so far in almost three weeks of our life aboard the ship. Things on board have started to become more eventful as everyone has slowly seemed to have adjusted to the strangest ever sleeping and waking up schedules. Going to sleep after standing a watch even during mid-day will feel the same as it does during the night time. I have to say that, after consequent naps on my weekend day, I feel quite disorientated yet so happy to have caught all the sleep hours I have missed in the previous days.
About Those SEA Semester Messages in Bottles….
On SEA Semester voyages, our students often take part in the time-honored tradition of scrawling a message, rolling it into a bottle, and plunking it into the ocean. Where these communiqués end up can help us to better understand ocean currents—and they’re a fun way to reach strangers we may never otherwise meet.
In the last week alone, we’ve heard of two separate instances where beach strollers have spotted our students’ bottles—an intriguing enough coincidence that we felt we had to share it on this blog.
Another Day in the Pacific
Life aboard the Robert C. Seamans is never dull. Practical jokes and unpredictable weather seem to keep everyone on their toes and in high spirits. Just yesterday Rachel was on the science deck when, unbeknownst to her, a rogue wave came and gave her a hearty salt water shower. Rachel, being a good sport, laughed it off and continued on with her watch. Down below deck the constant rolling of the waves we have been experiencing has brought on many laughs.
A Buttered Sole and Baby Sea Legs
Everyday tasks are a lot harder at sea. Normal tasks are turned into challenges that may leave you bruised and embarrassed. When walking through spaces without anything to hold onto, you must make a dash and hope a roll won’t come along and send you pancaking the nearest person into a wall. Sleeping in any position other than on your back involves bracing yourself against the side of your bunk so that rolls of the ship won’t toss you out of your dreams.