Our journey on the Robert C Seaman’s has been a rollercoaster of an experience so far. With only limited time left, it is clear that everyone on the ship is treasuring the precious time we all have left together onboard in this unique setting we have called home for the past 4 or so weeks. I have had countless “wow” moments throughout the trip as I have been in awe of the incredible marine environments, life and land that I have seen on the journey so far that, in my day-to-day life at home, I had not taken much notice and appreciation to. Despite the crazy hours of watches and often unbearable heat which I am not used to, I have learnt to really appreciate my time onboard as I know this is an amazing learning and growing experience that I have already taken so much away from. I cannot wait to continue the rest of our journey, sailing to some beautiful islands and experiencing their cultures.
Here are only a few of the many highlights of my trip so far!
Climbing out to the yards of the ship in our harnesses was incredible. I had a 360 view of the deep blue ocean surrounding me and it almost felt like I was flying. This gave some perspective that we were really in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with nothing in close proximity to us at all. This reality of disconnecting can be incredibly rewarding and appreciating the current moment and the crew and shipmates I am surrounded by on this ship is amazing.
Sailing towards Nuku Hiva, our first anchor stop, was also a memorable experience. It was after a dawn watch and usually I go back to my bunk and sleep as I am exhausted after watch, but as I saw that we were close to approaching Nuku Hiva, I couldn’t resist but to stay up for a while. It was the early hours of the morning, so the sunrise was illuminating up the sky with a deep amber colour, the clouds were low and charcoal coloured surrounding the island and white birds were circling around the ship. Then someone shouted “dolphins!” so we all made our way swiftly to the bow to see dolphins swimming close to the boat. It was quite the entrance for us! When we approached closer to Nuku Hiva, everyone was in awe of the natural beauty of the mountainous island and the greenery we were surrounded with and a pair of binoculars were passed around for everyone to take a closer look. I could not help but imagine the way of life for these people and was intrigued by their culture.
’A night under stars and squares’ was also a very memorable evening whilst anchored in Nuku Hiva. Each person found a note on their bunk inviting them to dress in their best clothes and show up for dinner at 7pm in the main salon. I was the assistant steward for the day, so I proposed to Jackie and Paul that we could make pizzas and eat up on deck. Paul made the pizza dough early in the morning and I helped chop up the toppings and prepare the sauce and once finished, the tables in the main salon were covered with delicious trays of fresh pizza. Then, everyone went to put on their best clothes and assembled on the quarter deck. It felt so nice wearing clothes that were fresh and clean! It was a magical evening with the sun slowly setting and the silhouette Nuku Hiva in the background and I could hear the faint sound of someone playing the guitar on deck. What a special evening!
Snorkelling in Rangiroa was also an incredible experience. The ocean water was a crystal clear blue colour and I could see all the way down to the white sandy sea floor. It was the most beautiful day with the vibrant island greenery in the background and it almost looked like a photograph. I saw some incredible coral formations and such a wide variety of colours and sizes of fish. My highlight though was definitely the multiple reef sharks that I saw and swimming below me. They were very gentle creatures who completely minded their own business, but just observing them glide so gracefully through the water was amazing. I hope to do more snorkelling when in Tahiti!
The sense of community and teamwork we have built on the Seaman’s in only a few weeks is also incredible. From strangers to shipmates and watch mates, we have learnt not only how to sail and carry out scientific deployments, but also community values, including respect, kindness, adaptability and growth which have all been displayed frequently in my day to day life. I am constantly inspired by the positive attitude of crew and my shipmates - even doing chores whilst blasting an album of Taylor Swift in the background puts a smile to my face or the conversations whilst everyone is running on little sleep during dawn watch makes me laugh. A special shoutout to B watch for being such great company!
Now, onwards and upwards for the rest of our journey. Here is to many more memorable moments aboard the Seaman’s and I cannot wait to see what the final few weeks bring!
Paloma Cestar, B Watch, University of Exeter, England