Today was an exciting day onboard the Bobby C. Seamans! When I woke up around 0600, there was land on the horizon, and not just one island but two! Nuku Hiva and Ua Pou are neighboring islands in the Marquesas Island chain. Ua Pou is incredibly striking with basaltic spires that give the island a very spiky shape while Nuku Hiva has a much smoother slope into the water.
In lab this morning, we stayed busy by deploying the CTD carousel to 600 meters. There is a lot of set up required including prepping the Niskin bottles that collect water, arming the system so that the bottles close at particular depths, and making sure all the sensors are set to go. Every 100 meters the carousel descended or ascended in the water column, we all did our science squats – 10 for every 100 meters! Once the carousel returned to the surface, it was a relief to see that all the Niskin bottles had fired, meaning each one had captured water at different depths. We started processing the water samples, all the while watching Nuku Hiva grow larger on our horizon. It is a stunning island with verdant green hillsides (at least at this time of year) and cliffs that plunge straight into the water.
I was in lab with the curtains drawn (keeping out light for a procedure) when we actually came into the harbor, but I heard the anchor chain and felt the boat’s motion slow to a gentle roll. After a quick trip from Rangiroa, we made it safely to Nuku Hiva!
Being onboard the Robert C. Seamans these past weeks has made me think a lot about community. During my hours on lookout, I ponder the differences between communities on land and at sea. At least for me, my sense of community on land is very amorphous. What defines community ashore? Is it the people you live with? The people in your neighborhood or town? What is your role in a land-based community? What are the responsibilities of each member of a community? I think “community” is often a word that’s used to mean lots of different things, but being on a 134-foot brigantine certainly helps me narrow down what community means. Onboard, everyone has all kinds of different roles and responsibilities. I’m a deckhand which means I stand a watch, I help with sail maneuvers, and I assist in science, but I also help clean the ship, wash dishes, and help out in the galley. I have day-to-day responsibilities and a duty to respond to emergencies in a particular way. Meanwhile, the mates, scientists, students, and faculty have all kinds of other responsibilities, some vastly different and some quite similar to my own. In this way, every job onboard the ship gets done, but nothing falls to only one individual. Having a defined role onboard gives me a sense of place that I’m often looking for on land. I think it’s such a powerful thing to be a part of a self-reliant community because there aren’t that many chances to participate in anything equivalent onshore, especially in these digital times. I am deeply grateful for this chance to work and live as part of a community, and I hope to make the most of every day here.