May 21, 2007. Aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans. It's hard to believe we have been on this ship for ten days without the sight of land; it feels more like one, or maybe two long days -- experiences melded together by the sea. Three months ago I never could have imagined myself sorting through plankton nets next to two world-renowned scientists, but now it is all too real as we approach Christmas Island in the central Pacific. Every minute I stay up, after my watch is over, to gaze at the bioluminescence of the waters, I find something I have never seen before, a whole mysterious world brought to the lights of our boat during the darkness. The sight of the most magnificent sunsets, boobies circling overhead, and the rolling waves of the vast Pacific all inspire me in this intimate experience with the ocean.
The transformation that the whole ship community has undergone is remarkable. I remember the first day when practically the entire boat was stricken with seasickness. The students and professors alike (well only Rob) bonded as we shared the rails to hurl our insides into the sea, food for Barb's tuna and the flying fish that we could see as we literally 'worshipped' the swells. But that is all over, rest assured to our avid readers. Now we hardly even notice a difference as the ship heels and lists while under way, our only indication is the gimbaled tables that rock to prevent our dishes spilling on the floor. It is equally amazing how close the community has come, recognizing the smell of each others' shoes on deck, or laundry as we hang it to dry.
As the excitement builds for our landfall at Christmas Island, there is also a sense of nostalgia: Our sea passage is coming to an end, one phase of our experience complete. I can remember the smell of land as we left Kaleakakua Bay, the sweet scent of plumeria, and, yet, I feel no urgent need for land, just the excitement to continue learning and experiencing the ocean's wonders. -- Johnny Bartz, Stanford@SEA student