Pacific Passage

Sailing from Mexico to Tahiti (Fall 2007)

Fall of 2007 set the stage for one of my grandest adventures to date.  I took part in a Sea Education Association (SEA) semester at Woods Hole, MA—an upper-level science program for oceanographic research. This program includes a 6-week shore component of intensive preparation/training in New England, followed by 6 weeks at sea aboard a world-class oceanographic research sailing vessel.  In my cruise, we sailed the beloved SSV Robert C. Seamans across the eastern Pacific Ocean from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to Papeete, Tahiti.  This experience was life-changing for each of the 24 students on board, as we ate, slept, worked, sweat and bled together as full-time crew members over a rigorous 43-day open-ocean passage.  From stunning cloud formations and sunsets during bow watch to thedreamlike tranquility that comes from staring off into the open ocean from the starboard deck, I will forever cherish my experience on this voyage. In addition to the wonders of open-ocean sailing, making our first port call after over 4 weeks at sea is an experience that I recall with a fond vividness matched by only a handful of experiences in my life. We spent our first port call at the mystical Marquesan island of Nuku Hiva during what could potentially be the most unique holiday I will ever experience. We made it to the island in the early morning hours just two days before Christmas–the sky with the backdrop of lush-green land was a brilliant spectacle to wake up to after many days at sea. After an intimate holiday gift-giving celebration on deck, we took the Seamans to a secluded bay from which we set out to explore the island of Nuku Hiva, described in the Pacific Passage section (next). After the holidays, wesailed around the islands for another week before reaching Moorea and, shortly after, Tahiti. The jagged, green mountain peaks of Moorea were an incredible site from the port deck!

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