Salutations from the sea and from your favorite salty south-bound sailors! Jessie from C-watch here, reporting on the many happenings aboard the Robert C Seamans. I was on dish duty this morning from 0700-1300, which I very quickly discovered is not a bad place to be the day before thanksgiving. On deck, good smells constantly waft up through the vents; evidence of the production of homemade bread, brining turkeys and pies galore.
Today, we reached a very special geographic location: the International Date Line. A somewhat perplexing place on the globe that when crossed, brings us from today back to yesterday when moving eastward. As of this afternoon, our longitude was 179 degrees and 56 minutes East, and counting up. Post-class, the international-date-line-enthusiasts gathered around the GPS in the chart room to watch the seconds as they passed and celebrate the time-warp. Finally—180 degrees! November 26th all over again, and now counting down from 179 degrees and 59 minutes West. Fairly shortly, we will be crossing back over the date line as we head southwest for Napier, so for everyone on board’s sanity, we will not be changing our clocks and calendars.
Today’s geographic location is very special for yet another reason. We have finally reached the Kermadec Trench! Checking the depth meter in the lab is part of our hourly responsibilities, but it was pretty extraordinary to enter the lab this morning to see a depth of nearly 3,000 meters. To celebrate the International Date Line crossing as well as the mind-boggling depth of the water beneath our toes, we undertook an old sailor’s tradition of shaving our heads and consuming several barrels of grog. Just kidding. Instead, we “hove to” (halted) the ship and celebrated the moment with a Kermadec trench swim. After hearing Captain Chris call “the pool is open!” those eager for the sea went flying off the rails and head rig, plunging into the water. During our swim, as if the moment weren’t surreal enough, we were visited by a massive albatross. It flew an initial circle around the boat to scope out what was happening, then flew just about 20 feet away from us, close enough to see its smooth grey feathered face in detail.
With a day of thanks just around the corner, I am thinking of my dear friends and family back home, as well as gratitude for the new friendships forged aboard this vessel. Much love to my people on Bainbridge Island and beyond!
- Jessie Sheldon