Our Fall 2016 Onboard Reporter

The adventure begins!

Hello world! My name is William Harnisch and I’m Sailors for the Sea’s Onboard Reporter for the Sea Education Association (SEA) S-270 class! On my journey with SEA, I’ll join my fellow classmates on the tall ship SSV Robert C. Seamans in the Southern Pacific, where we’ll venture from Auckland, New Zealand to far offshore.

sailing, research, plastics

I hail from New Jersey and am currently a junior at the University of Rhode Island pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Affairs. I have spent my whole life around and on the water, from beautiful summer days on my father’s boat, many years worth of sailing, even working as the Dockmaster’s Assistant at Champlins Marina on Block Island while simultaneously working with the Harbormaster. I simply cannot get enough of the water, which is a big reason I decided to spend a semester with SEA. 

I’m in the Ocean Exploration program here at SEA which entails the adventure of a lifetime; sailing out of Auckland to Russell then northbound to the Kermadec Islands, a small island chain that is protected by the New Zealand government, then down to Napier and finally back to Auckland. I will also be backpacking across the country for three weeks after our return to Auckland, but that is not actually part of the program.

cruise, chart, New Zealand

While aboard the Seamans I will be working with a fellow student named Kaia on an issue that resonates deeply within both of us: marine plastics. Having been around the water, especially between work and school in the past few years, I’ve not only learned a lot about this issue but have seen first hand just how much marine debris is in our ocean. While researching this issue, we strive to find a correlation between plastics, both macro and micro, and how ocean currents and winds influence their movement. Although we cannot conduct heavy research with the limited time and technology, we hope to pose questions for further research.

sailing, stars

As for my own personal experience on the ship I’m most excited to reconnect to a culture that many believe to be only history. It isn’t very common for someone to be given the opportunity to sail a tall ship in the Southern Pacific navigating solely off of celestial bodies for over a month and it is an experience that needs to be shared. In addition to the joy and clarity such an epic trip will bring it will pose many challenges such sleep deprivation and living with the same people in tight quarters for an extended period. This trip will change my life and being the Onboard Reporter gives me a chance to not only allow the public a small glimpse into this great journey but also shed some light on a topic that is not well known within the majority of the public yet has a big impact due to the environmental impacts plastic has. I am very excited to have this opportunity and thank you for following me on this crazy adventure!

Stay tuned for more updates from our Onboard Reporter, William!

In collaboration with Sea Education Association (SEA), Sailors for the Sea is offering an award for a SEA Semester student to become an Onboard Reporter. SEA is an internationally recognized leader in undergraduate ocean education through their study abroad program. As a recipient of the new Sailors for the Sea Onboard Reporter award, William Harnisch is chronicling ocean health issues observed during his voyage aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans, one of SEA’s tall sailing ship research vessels, off the coast of New Zealand. William is a University of Rhode Island undergraduate student currently studying off campus with SEA Semester’s Ocean Exploration program in fall term 2016. This program gives undergraduates of all majors the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of our world’s oceans.