Hi S280 blog! My name is Kaleigh, I'm from Boston MA, a student/ crew of the Robert C. Seamans!
Since the wind was so favorable coming from Caroline Island, our arrival to Christmas Island is a day early! It's a very strange feeling seeing cars and people from the anchored boat for the first time in over a week, we've gotten so used to life on board the ship.
This morning groups of people departed the ship for a trip to explore the island. We left the ship around 10 am, being picked up by Kiribati locals, on a small wooden fishing boat. I loved seeing the shallow, turquoise water in the lagoon as we motored to the beach, something I definitely haven't seen until this trip! Also, we got the chance to see a couple of manta rays swimming past on our way to land, which was a great sight. Once we got to the beach, we started exploring around the island, seeing small grocery stores, many schools, and churches. Almost everyone in the cars that went past were waving to us! Every islander is especially kind to us, something the whole crew appreciates. It truly feels like a world away. We spent a couple hours on the island, just exploring around and walking along the beach, everything was quiet and peaceful, in contrast to the ever-present sound of wind and waves that we had heard for weeks before.
On the schedule for today was also the last coral reef survey, so after lunch we all went back in the boats to go to the reef site. This reef was especially large, compared to the two atolls we visited before. During the reef surveys, different teams (fish, coral, inverts.) study the reefs using measuring tools, writing down data using dive slates, and taking photos/videos with the underwater go-pros. Snorkeling can become difficult with the
oncoming swell and currents, but it is always rewarding to see the marine life and corals that live in there. Human impact has a pivotal role in the overall health of the ocean environment, so unfortunately, many of the corals we saw there were already dead or in bad health.
I'm so excited to start on the last leg of our trip to Hawaii, it's been a crazy journey for everyone on board. We've been to Rangiroa, Caroline Island, crossed the Equator, Christmas Island, and covered more than 1500 nm of vast ocean. We've all learned so much since coming on board in Papeete, and I think everyone has enjoyed themselves a lot. As my dad says, there's a beginning, middle, and an end to everything in life, and right now days are long and there's much to be done. Even with the struggles, it's always rewarding, full of growth and learning. Each day seems to pass slowly, but looking back, you don't know how you've lived through so many days at sea! I can't say how excited I am to dock in Hawaii, finishing the last part of the trip. Everyone should definitely be proud of themselves for coming this far across the Pacific Ocean, it is something many people cannot say they've done.
To family - I can't wait to see you guys! It feels like I've been away for so long. I hope Kiera is excited for Nationals, I know she's ready!! Know that all is well with me on board the ship, I'm having a great time and learning a lot! Say hi to Jack and Fagin also!!