F12 Offshore – 22 September 2012

Saturday September 22, 2012


31°35’N, 119°33’W

Sailing under the four lowers, Topsail, and raffee.

Hello from the SSV Robert C. Seamans! We have been so busy these last few days I haven’t had time to write. So I thought I’d give a day-in-the-life from class on Friday afternoon through class today.

James, Nick, Jenn, Mike, Julieanne, Shelly, Bea, and Katy
enjoying a beautiful day of sailing on the quarterdeck!

FRIDAY 21 SEPT 2012:

1415 – The Line Chase: Each watch lined up on the quarterdeck for a game we like to play to show off how hard the students have worked to learn the ships lines. Each person was given a card with the name of a line, they had to touch the line and have a watch officer confirm they are correct.  Then, relay style, the next person was given a card to do the same.  All three watches did remarkably well but in the end C Watch came in for the win. We were also lucky to have Tom the Engineer playing his Banjo throughout the line chase!

1500 – Student reports: Beatrice from Wellesley gave a description of the life cycle of a crab while her watch mates gave a weather and navigation report of the past 24 hours.

1515 – Class on the Quarterdeck: Lisa gave a material culture tour of the ship. She talked about the Plimsoll mark on the ship, scurvy aboard ships, the Secchi disk, Nathaniel Bowditch, the sounding lead and the binnacle.

1600 – Snack! The galley brought out a huge dish of spring rolls for everyone to enjoy.

1620 – Literature Lab: Every afternoon for twenty minutes A watch joined me forward on the ship to write in their journals, reflecting on life at sea, sketching something on the boat, and other observations.

1700 – I enjoyed a few minutes forward on the ship as C Watch furled the Jib on the bowsprit!

1730 – A quick nap before dinner, zzzzz..

1900 – Dinner!  Pizzas with so many different toppings it was hard to choose. Delicious!

1940 – Galley cleanup: Will from California Maritime Academy and I were on galley cleanup last night.  A deep clean of every surface you can see and a few you can’t. We scrapped down the griddle, cleaned up a minor soy sauce spill in the back corner, and cleaned the mats and sole (floor). This is a big task and very important to our wonderful stewards – they love a clean galley!

2200 – A cup of tea with the students in lab to check in on their plans for the super station in the morning.

2230 – A quick stop on the quarterdeck to say hi to the helmsman and mate on watch.

2300 – Bed time! I was lucky to have so many hours of sleep last night.


0600 – An early wake up from the watch on deck and tasty breakfast burritos to start off the day.

0700 – Science! On deck to see the third and final super station in our deepest depth so far. It took over six hours to set up this station and put about 3800 meters of wire down towards the sea floor.  We used the CTD (measuring conductivity, temperature, and depth), NisKin bottles on the wire (to collect water at different depths) and sent a bag full of decorated styrofoam cups in a mesh bag (more on that later). Students will be presenting the data collected from these super stations on Monday afternoon.

1000 – I have been working on making Grover, the Mallory House mascot, a safety harness and finally finished with the help of a some sewing materials and a hot knife.  I am happy to report that Grover is officially cleared to go aloft!

1045 – The Chief Scientist Lisa send a messenger (weight) down the water to trigger Niskin bottles to close at 12 different depths.

1100 – Relaxing on the quarterdeck, Liz from Bryn Mawr could be seen carefully sketching the helm. Luckly the helm was tied down as we were hoved too for the super station.

1300 – Lunch! Mac & Cheese and salad!

1330 – The wire finally was completely pulled out of the water and we successfully closed every bottle on the wire! As a bonus the Styrofoam cups and a painted Styrofoam head we sent down shrunk at depth! The students in the lab will be processing this data for the rest of the day.

1415 – Class on the quarterdeck: Student reports on the differences between diatoms and dinoflagellates, navigation, and weather. Lisa gave a brief class on the different kinds of ships we have or will see while out at sea. She was able to hail a cargo ship on the radio bound from LA/Long Beach to Taiwan and talk with the Chief Mate on board about life on a cargo ship.

1500 – Fire Drill: A planned, but unexpected fire drill was called, “Fire in the engine room” for everyone to practice exactly what they would do in the case of such an emergency.  A very quick response was a great sign – sail was handled, fire hoses were pulled out, and the captain was pleased.

As you can see it is very easy to get wrapped up in the goings-on aboard our ship. As I sit here in the ship’s library writing, the third scientist Tommy, is playing the guitar and students can be seen reading in the main salon.  It seems as though everyone has gotten comfortable with the schedule aboard and are really enjoying their trip!

Fair winds,


Author: williamsmystic

A one semester interdisciplinary ocean and coastal studies program integrating marine science, maritime history, environmental policy, and literature of the sea.

One thought on “F12 Offshore – 22 September 2012”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s