Sunday, May 14, 2017

Hello landlubbers!

All is well on the Robert C. Seamans. We set sail from Papeete 40 hours ago and made a fast transit to Oponohu Bay on Moorea to conduct our ship station drills and familiarization routines. Captain Pamela chose this location for its natural beauty and calm waters (photo).

We lay at anchor at Moorea for 20 hours while all aboard trained and made ready for sea. Fire drills, man overboard exercises and abandon ship training must be completed, as we are not a passenger vessel. Our Stanford students are members of the ship's crew and everyone has an important and assigned role to play during emergencies. As part of our training we donned our immersion suits (photo) - designed to keep us warm and safe in the event of a prolonged stay in the sea.

Moorea is spectacular - with soaring, vertical-sided volcanic peaks and serrated ridges separated by tropical forests (photo). We collected our first scientific samples at Oponohu, including a sediment grab plucked from the seafloor 43 meters below the ship. The mud was clean and oxygenated - with many small invertebrates.

We set sail for Ile Maria at 1600 on 14 May 17 - and soon thereafter began experiencing a crew shortage due to mal de mer. It wasn't so much the force 5 winds but rather the complex sea conditions created by a distant cyclone to the northwest, a local tropical wave, and the defining influence of the nearby islands on wind and current. Yet smiling faces were the norm, fueled by our sense of shared adventure as adjust to the motions of home at sea. We are SAILING a tall ship in French Polynesia, with no motor assist needed and science on our minds. 

-RB Dunbar

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