As it has been for a few days now, the sea state was rather exciting today.
Winds have been blowing a strong Force 6, sometimes Force 7. The swell and waves certainly have not seemed to calm down. Standing of the quarterdeck of the Seamans looking out at the horizon, we are often met with an immediate wall of water, rocking the ship dramatically and sending all loose items flying. Prior to coming on this trip, I would have shuddered at the concept of sailing in 15 foot swells. Now, I welcome the action!
However, we are mindful of safety, and pushing the ship to her limits in big seas is not for us. Consequently, we spent a majority of the day Hove- to.
The concept of heaving-to still seems strange to me. By doing some simple sail handling maneuvers, we can park all 135 feet of the Robert C. Seamans in the ocean. The rudder and sails work in opposition of one another, keeping the ship in a stable spot relative to the wind and waves. So although we had some rather impressive motion in the ocean today, the ship was rather stable. We still need to be careful when walking, keeping our sea legs under us, but we are able to work and relax in relative ease. This is very important, because today was a momentous day for the ship’s students, crew, and all of SEA. We took part in the organization’s first Local Apparent Port Stop!
Now, if you were to look at a chart of the southeast corner of the North Pacific, you would notice that there are very few ports between Catalina Island and Hawai’i. As such, almost our entire cruise is one long span of time at sea. Such an extended duration can be pretty trying sometimes. Granted, this is the reason many of us agreed to go on a boat for 6 weeks.
However, it is nice to break up our watch schedule and give us some time to interact together as a community. This is where the Local Apparent Port Stop comes in handy! Other SEA trips have port stops to various islands and new interesting places. The class and crew of S301 have done just that, but without the island. The ship hove-to, and we had an all-hands (everyone on board) dinner. Thanks to Team Galley for arranging a wonderful pasta dinner with the best Focaccia I’ve ever eaten! Now I can check “eat a plate of spaghetti in 30 knot winds and 15 foot swells” off of my bucket list.
Following dinner, everyone gathered to play games, share stories, and enjoy the company of those we might only get to see in passing. It’s funny how you can share the same ship with someone for weeks on end, and only see them a handful of times! All told, it is a wonderful time getting to break the ending cycle of the 18-hour watch schedule and enjoy some absolutely stunning ocean with fantastic people.
To my friends and family back home, it only took 4 days to clear seasickness. Miss you all very much!
- Carson Hill, University of Connecticut