Highlights After One Week at Sea

February 22, 2022

Author: Charlie Dvergsten, A Watch, Carleton College

Sunset off anchorage in Oahu
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Sunset off anchorage in Oahu

Ship's Log

Noon Position:
18°07.745’N x 157°26.096’W

Ship Heading:
167 degrees Ship Speed: 6.8 knots

Taffrail Log (nm):
317.2 nm

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan:
Sunny, NE wind, 4 lowers set Description of location: 125 nm SW of Hawai’i

Souls on Board

When pondering my blog post, I was struck with an unfamiliar dilemma. For once, I had way too much to write about. I could undoubtedly write pages on my experience aboard the Robert C. Seamans already, having only been onboard for a week. The possible topics are endless! I could recount all of our whale and dolphin spottings, our swim calls, all the various tasks I have been assigned during watch, or even the intricacies of my bunk. But in the interest of time (mine and yours), I will cover highlights over the past week. I am also going to include some lowlights that aren’t really very low, but I want to add a certain joie de vivre to this blog post, and I have been told I am “kinda funny” (their words, not mine – I am at least pretty funny).

Diamondhead Rock, off our anchorage in Oahu

Diamondhead Rock, off our anchorage in Oahu

Highlight #1 Sunsets and Stargazing

Believe it or not, being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean allows for some picturesque moments on the horizon. So far, my favorite sunset was last night. I was hauling the starboard jib sheet on A watch’s evening shift (boom, boom, A Watch!), stealing brief moments to peek past the railing and enjoy the ball of orange descending into the ocean. But folks, it gets better. Our watch officer, Masterchief Kevin, is a constellation wizard. He has a green laser pointer he uses to point out stars, which is frequently utilized. After dinner, we have gone onto the foredeck to lay there and stargaze, as Kevin tells us stories of the constellations. My favorite is Gemini, with Pollux and Castor as navigation stars (but I might just be biased). I have even seen two shooting stars already. Don’t worry, I made wonderful wishes. I obviously can’t say, but a small hint is as follows: Seattle.

Highlight #2 Sail Handling

The ship is a completely new environment for almost all of the students, myself included. So being able to learn how to sail handle is especially fun and rewarding. I particularly enjoy admiring the sails after we set them, as it is no easy task. I like to consider each line that I haul a mini-workout; it definitely feels like it! It takes at least 2 or 3 people on each halyard to raise a sail, as well as a few more to sweat it and pull that last little bit necessary to set a good sail. As an added bonus, I play CloudSky whenever I look at sails (That, of course, is when you see shapes in the clouds, I named it CloudSky with my mom when I was young). I have been seeing a lot of dinosaurs recently, as well as a starfish or two. People honestly do not play it enough.

Highlight #3 The Galley!!!

The food is AMAZING. So. Good. Absolutely insane. I could go on. Cat (who happens to be a Johnnie) and Gracie are our stewards, and they always make delicious meals and snacks. Amy, who is currently A Watch’s scientist, says that food just tastes better on boats. If that statement holds true, I will surely enjoy it for as long as I can. Cat has told me I am eating the most on board, which is surprising, because Ben is here too. But I am not complaining; food seemingly is being pushed to me at the ends of meals (and who am I to waste good food?). Also, the gimbled tables are freaky! We cannot have our elbows on the tables when eating so I am finally learning better table etiquette, as well as which sides of a plate forks and spoons go on (see Mom, I told you I didn’t need to go to cotillion).

Highlight #4 Whale Watching and Swim Calls

I do not even know how many whales I have seen over the past few days.

Seemingly hundreds – they are everywhere! I have seen spouting, breaching, flippers, tails, heads, babies, moms, dads, little pods, etc! Humpback whales are beautiful and I feel very fortunate to be able to observe them. I have also seen dolphins and flying fish, but no sea turtles yet. In addition to watching whales, we have also been listening. During a swim call off the coast of Maui, we realized we could hear whale calls if we listen underwater. It was shocking and beautiful.

Oh yeah, swim calls are when we stop everything and go jump in the ocean. They’re a ton of fun, as you could imagine. We are allowed to climb out onto the bowsprit and jump, which is my favorite. It is about 20 feet down and I feel like I am flying.

Highlight #5 My Bunk

Alright, last highlight – I promised not to take up too much of your time!

My bunk is super cozy and I love it so very much. I have a big, long shelf that I keep pretty much everything on – from Bridge Kingdom to friendship bracelet embroidery floss.  My fan keeps me cool and the rocking of the ship puts me right to sleep. 10/10

But fear not, living on a boat cannot be all sunshine and rainbows! Let’s get to some lowlights (think of this post as a drawn out rose and thorn).

Lowlight #1 Getting out of my Bunk

Ok, I have to change that 10/10 to 9.5/10. The lip of our bunks keeps us from sliding out at night, but because I have a lower bunk, the lip also keeps me from getting out comfortably. I will get the hang of it eventually, but for now I have a love/hate relationship with this darn lip (I am sternly giving it side eye as I am typing). Also, my curtain hits me when the boat tilts – annoying, obviously!

Lowlight #2 Seasickness

Now that we are officially underway to Palmyra, everyone onboard is well-informed to the unrelenting bumps caused by the trade winds. I have felt pretty nauseated from time to time but seeing your friends in even worse misery is a huge bummer. Thankfully, everyone is getting their sea legs under them and soon enough we will have conquered this malady.

I told you I could write a ton about my experience aboard the Seamans so far! Luckily, I have two more blog posts (Feb 27 and Mar 6) so come back if you want to hear more from me. Thanks for reading and happy whatever day it is.

Odds and Ends

-       We have started an onboard Wordle, which is fun for both the students and professional crew. Shoutout to Corinna for making that happen.

-       Google Diamondhead Rock in Oahu. We were anchored in that bay for 2 days and it is officially my favorite place ever.

-       To Mom, Dad and Tommy – I miss y’all! Give Ollie and Keiko extra love from me. I love you guys!

-       Gena, good luck this weekend with your audition! I hope Cassie took lots of videos of you skiing so I can be impressed (or amused). I miss you and I love you.

Contact: Douglas Karlson, Director of Communications, 508-444-1918 | dkarlson@sea.edu

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2 Comments

  1. Doreen J Bertrand February 23, 2022 at 20:55 - Reply

    Another great blog!!
    I hope you all get your sea legs soon and the nausea fades.
    Safe travels!!

  2. Kerry February 26, 2022 at 09:46 - Reply

    Fantastic rose & thorn!!

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