Why does a seagull live by the sea?

July 16, 2022

Sarah Pokelwaldt, Program Assistant


Sunset Appreciation with Hannah, Talia, me, and Kat

Ship's Log

Noon Position
35 43.218 degrees N 130 13.760 degrees W

Ship Heading
259 T

Ship Speed
5.2 knots

Clear and starry

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Mains'l, Mainstays'l, Forestays'l and Jib

Latest Neuston tow plastic count

Souls on Board

Hi all! I'm the program assistant for this class, and part of the crew here onboard! Recently, one of my biggest tasks has been taking photos and videos to document our plastic and marine debris research projects. Some of these pictures have been featured in previous blog posts! Additionally, I've been helping with some research to collect data for our collaborators. Mostly, this involves using tweezers to sort impossibly small pieces of microplastics out of plankton samples. Ah yes, the life of a marine biologist is indeed glamorous.

Field day pump up featuring Sarah K., Francesca, Hannah, and Kelly

Field day pump up featuring Sarah K., Francesca, Hannah, and Kelly

Life on board is much different than anywhere else I've lived. For one thing, I can't count on the floor staying still, and even the tables here are gimbaled to try to keep plates from flying off them as we roll with the waves. On calm days, I sometimes forget I'm on a boat during breakfast, but am quickly reminded as I teeter to the galley to clear my dish. When I venture up on deck, blue sky stretches in all directions, meeting the sea in a faint distant line that seems impossibly far away. We are currently traveling in a highly trafficked shipping area, and yet, for at least 80% of our days no other vessels can be seen. It's a whole new perspective on what traffic means. Days are long, work is rewarding, and my bunk gets cozier as the days pass.

We've formed a special community made up of the 36 of us on board. In such a small amount of time, we've learned an impossible amount about each other. We've learned to speak salty' and entwine the sailor's language with our own marine biology based jargon. Ex: ⌠On Deck: I finally see the appeal of being an obligate neuston!■ -shouted from a student floating in the waves to the on-watch mate lifeguarding from the quarterdeck. Obligate neustons being plankton that can't move by themselves and go where the wind takes them, obvious, right?

Here, every action has very real and very apparent consequences. Through this, we're learning a lot about ourselves and how to reasonably challenge ourselves outside our comfort zones. Some days that may look like daring ourselves to climb aloft, and others it may be to really scrub down the soles to get the dirt out, and yet others it's to pull as hard as you can on the count 2-6-HEAVE to lift the mains'l (main sail) up. I'm always happy to end each day drinking tea and watching the sun sink below the horizon with the rest of the Sunset Appreciation Club, consistently the least hectic part of my day.

I've written a poem of sorts that I'll share below. Some of it may not be intuitive to all, but it summarizes some of the quirks of our tiny floating community.

Things I found at sea:

A- Adverse conditions keep us on our toes as we learn new knots And ways to coil our ropes, such as a B- Ballantine coil that give us lots more room for improvement as we work to improve our C- Coordination, While we become adept D-Deck hands and muster to station At the beginning of each watch, we arrive E- Eager to learn more Than the day before, but F- Foulies are needed as storm clouds soar Above us, but luckily today I'm in lab with the G- Glaucus atlanticus And H- Halobates, two bizarre little creatures that hang out with us In our buckets swirling around much like our I- Introspective thoughts That are more often than not hung up on how J- Jibe is so much like jib, caught Just one letter off, but the latter a triangle sail not shaped as a K-Kite Like others are but we know this because we're training as L- Leaders who might Head our watch groups under the M- mentorship of our mates As we move into a new phase, like the moon in the N- Night Sky And the constellations like O-Orion drawn out in the head, why You can't even pee without learning instead because Q- Quality matters In many aspects of life, like making fast a R-Rope, or should I say line, Because S- Speaking Salty is really just a matter of time Spent like a sailor, but speaking of T- Timeliness, it's of the U-utmost importance and if you are not at least 10 minutes early, we Might as well assume that you're not being V- vigilant, and hope That it's not during deployments because the W- Whirring hydrowinch Can steal your face if you're not being X- Xtra careful to sinch Every clamp, and Y-Yell up to deck to ensure your tow is on time As the Z-Zooplankton will soon be caught by your line.

A: Because if it lived by the bay it'd be a bay gull!

Sarah Pokelwaldt, Program Assistant

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One Comment

  1. Anonymous July 22, 2022 at 10:02 - Reply

    I have enjoyed reading every blog and and so in awe of all everyone has learned and accomplished while on board the SSV Robert C Seamans. Loved your poem, Sarah and can’t wait to see you on the 29th. Gram

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