New Zealand to Tahiti: Spiro ’18 and Wu ‘18 are Sailing Through the Semester. No, Really.

Math and physics major Carina Spiro ‘18 and Jacquelyn Wu ’18, a math major, are sailing the South Pacific Ocean in an effort to address and better understand some of the most pressing global questions related to the marine environment.

Jacquelyn Wu ’18 (left) and Carina Spiro ’18

Through SEA Semester: Ocean Exploration, a study abroad program offered by Sea Education Association (SEA), Spiro and Wu, together with other students with a variety of academic interests, are conducting guided field research projects during a voyage from New Zealand to Tahiti.

The program combines insights from oceanography, the humanities, and the social sciences with practical skills in seamanship, allowing students to deepen their awareness of and appreciation for the ocean through hands-on research and personal experience.

Spiro, Wu and their student shipmates arrived mid-February at SEA Semester’s campus in the oceanographic research community of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, for six initial weeks of on-shore preparatory coursework.

The SSV (Student Sailing Vessel) Robert C. Seamans

And then, on March 30, students arrived aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans, SEA’s state-of-the-art 134-foot brigantine, in Lyttelton, New Zealand.

The ship serves as their home, classroom, and laboratory for six weeks as they sail more than 3,500 nautical miles to their final destination of Pape’ete, Tahiti.

The voyage comprises a long, open ocean passage and port stops in the Chatham Islands, remote Raiatea in the Society Islands, and Moorea in French Polynesia.

On board, all students become full working members of the ship’s crew, sharing responsibilities for standing watch, processing oceanographic samples, navigating by the stars, and participating in round-the-clock operations.

Along the way they learn to challenge themselves and cultivate new skills in leadership, teamwork, and field research.

Track their voyage on the SEA Semester blog through May 6, 2017.

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