Thrills and Transformations on the High Seas

June 29, 2o23

Olivia Patrinicola, University of South Carolina

Olivia at the helm from the previous day, with Oahu visible in the background

Ship's Log

18° 24.5' N x 160° 34.5 W, ~220 nm southwest of Oahu (our nearestpoint of land)

Sunny and clear, Wind-NE, Beaufort force 4

Souls on Board

All blogs from S-310

Every day is filled with new information and crazy experiences. I am not sure when I will be less surprised by all the new tasks and sights to be seen, but they sure are all very exciting. Although everything is so different, it feels like a routine is finally being established. The students (including myself) have spent the past two days now at sea, "learning the ropes". I cannot say that I know what I am doing just yet, but ever so slowly confidence is building. As someone who has never been out at sea and definitely has never sailed a ship, it all feels like a whole other world. The vessel is like a miniature village. The boobies-small birds who love to catch flying fish and dive deep into the water-are the pesky little children who only cause mischief all day long. This is not even a joke. The boobies (red footed, Sula sula) sit on the masts, poop on the deck (and occasionally a person), and dive for flying fish. Of course we still welcome the stealthy and swift little birds as they embark on our journey with us. Everything on the boat is different than it is on land. The trash gets collected differently, showers and bathroom usage is different, and even the way one foot lands in front of the other is different when traveling across the ship.

Every twelve hours, all of the students, deckhands, and mates gather in their designated watch groups (go B watch!) and watch times, and conduct their operation of the boat for six hours while the rest of the ship is off duty. Some of the tasks include managing the sails, conducting boat checks, recording weather patterns, standing on lookout on the bow, manning the helm, assisting in the laboratory, and using spare time to learn any morsel of information that may come by. I enjoy lookout, although I have not had the opportunity to conduct lab work just yet. Watching the horizon as the boat trucks along is peaceful and has been an amazing time to reflect on the journey and become an all-star song-writer and singer. The image attached to this blog post was from my watch group's post-watch meeting. We use the time to share how the watch went with our fellow team members. I was sharing with the team that my sea sickness has officially subsided.

We have class every weekday at 1430. Today was particularly exciting because the scientists on board launched the neuston net for the first time. The neuston net is a fine mesh net that gets towed off the side of the boat at surface level. The net funnels down into a small plastic cup that catches any fun critters that did not make it past the fine mesh. The boat moves at two nautical miles and the net is deployed for thirty minutes. When the net is collected, the cup at the end of the net holds fun goodies such as zooplankton and tiny fish that are further examined and analyzed. Today they caught a blue bottle, which is a siphonophore that can float on the surface of the water and catch small phytoplankton. It gets its name because of its small size and strikingly blue hue.

My name is Olivia Patrinicola, and I am a student here on the Robert C. Seamans. I go to the University of South Carolina (go Gamecocks!) and I study Marine Science. I decided to embark on this journey extremely last minute, about a month before the start date, so everything has started so quickly. I am very happy I decided to do this and cannot wait to see what I learn when I make it to the lab. Hello Mom and Dad. I am well, and I miss you a lot. Shout-out to Frankie and my friends from home, I hope you all are having a great summer. Lastly, hey Will, I hope your adventures on the Westcoast are serving you well. Love and miss you all!

Olivia with "B Watch" debriefing after their six-hour shift

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  1. Maya Gabelberger July 5, 2023 at 15:35 - Reply

    I love all the description of what is happening moment by moment by hours by watches…. Thank you so much! Also the boobies-small birds sound so annoyingly funny. Thank you for bringing more of this experience you are all having alive for us landlubbers!

  2. Ryan Pastirik July 7, 2023 at 00:47 - Reply

    I love boobies!

  3. Tom Patrinicola July 7, 2023 at 06:41 - Reply

    Let me second what Maya (above) wrote – thanks for taking time to describe what you see and relaying your stories.
    Best wishes for good sailing weather in the days ahead to everyone aboard the SSV RBS. (Also, in case this makes it back, sending our love to Olivia.)

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