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Voyages

SSV Corwith Cramer Blog

The SSV Corwith Cramer will depart Key West on 12/29/10 with students from the Wharton School of Business. They will sail in the Straights of Florida and Gulf of Mexico and will return to Key West on 1/6/11.

Position information is updated on a workday basis only. Audio updates from the ship are reported periodically throughout the voyage.

Jan

05

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton
  • Current Position: Anchored, Key West Harbor
  • Current Weather: Cozy
  • With Justin leading us with his guitar, we sang our goodbyes to the Cramer tonight as it is our last night aboard. When we first started planning this Venture, over two years ago now, we hoped for the very best and I can report that we have achieved the very best. For hundreds of years students have stepped aboard boats like the Corwith Cramer to learn, among many things, how to lead the people in their charge. On this trip we made real the belief that the Sea, and the ships that sail her, can continue to teach us the very best tenants of leadership. It is my greatest hope that this newfound relationship between Wharton and SEA, forged off the coast of the Florida Keys, will last many years into the future.

    It is getting late now and I must be up in a few hours for my turn at anchor watch. As I walk the deck tonight, watching the lights of Key West, listening the dolphins breathe as they pass us by, I will look forward to the many sails we have ahead of us. ~ Preston Cline

Jan

04

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton
  • Current Position: 24° 13.1'N x 81° 59.6'W
  • Current Weather: Winds ENE; Air temperature 23 degrees C
  • Photo Caption: Junior Watch Officers from each watch (Chris of B Watch, Dave of C Watch, and Charlotte and Rohan of A Watch) discuss how to tackle the new science mission – the Wharton teams must work closely together and help each other out for successful completion.
  • We learned yet another valuable lesson aboard Cramer during the past day: like the winds, seas and temperatures, the rules can change without warning too. Junior Watch Officers are now in charge of the ship for the duration of the watch. No pre-assigned rotations. No friendly advice from the mate, assistant scientist, and deckhand. We're six days in and the training wheels have been taken off. The SEA "blue-shirts" (staff) have become tight-lipped on answering the technical questions and are now only there to provide manual labor and to keep an eye out for safety concerns. In short, we're on our own.

    As we cycle through one rotation of the new watch setup, it's quickly apparent that "active followership" is as critical to a watch's success as good leadership. Something as familiar as deploying a neuston net (which we've done nearly every watch) becomes complicated and slow without the real-time help of the assistant scientists. Actively pooling and piecing together the team's knowledge is essential, since various team members have seen (and retained) different parts of the process. And though there's an increased level of frustration on occasion, there's also a tremendous satisfaction in realizing that your watch has pulled together to successfully and safely operate a 135-foot sailing research vessel for several hours when less than a week ago most of us didn't know our starboard from our stern.

    Before we've had a chance to get comfortable however, we've received new orders. A combined, urgent research mission that requires all three watches to co-ordinate deployments and navigation to create a research report by 0700 tomorrow morning. Success will depend on smooth watch turnovers, accurate navigation, and flawless scientific procedure. A lapse by one watch could jeopardize the whole operation. Stay tuned for tomorrow's report on how we fared!

Jan

03

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton
  • Current Position: 24° 15.5'N x 82° 25.5'W, south of the Florida Keys
  • Current Weather: Winds north/northeast, Air Temperature 22C
  • Photo Caption: What Waves Feel Like At The Dining Tables (Picture #1) & Just Chillin' With Flipper and Few Friends (Picture #2)
  • Mid-morning a pod of five spotted dolphins appeared on our port side and kept our attention for about 30 minutes. After running from one area of the ship to another following their antics, we had the opportunity to snatch a few pictures.

    While we may not be at 3730 Walnut, that does not keep us from case studies (you need not worry, we are still b-students). Today, we analyzed the 1991 collision of a small sailboat, the American Promise, and a tugboat pushing a coal barge, the SunCoast. As you guessed, the American Promise didn't have much promise running into a 7,000 ton barge. Lack of leadership, we concluded, was the fundamental issue; we'll apply some of the ideas raised in today's discussion as we guide our watches through the final few days of this voyage.

    The wind finally picked up mid-afternoon, and we have started sailing with some SPEED. However, with that wind came much bigger waves, and those waves keep the boat a rockin'. While some of us are still questioning the physics of how the dining tables work, we thought you deserved a sneak peak of how the dishes stay on these creepy tables.

Jan

02

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton
  • Current Position: 25° 20.2'N x 82° 31.1'W
  • Current Weather: Winds light from the East, temperature 20.5 deg C
  • Photo Caption: Sea monster slain! (Dinner tomorrow?)
  • Three major occurrences happened on the 2nd day of the New Year. First, Wharton seamanship proved adept after an impromptu man overboard drill brought our dummy seaborne crewmember safely back aboard in a mere six minutes! High-fives and pats on the back abound, we're feeling more comfortable in our new home every day (but nonetheless hope never to go overboard in real life).

    Second, line expertise was tested in a battle of epic proportions when watches were pitted against each other during afternoon (1430) class. Shipmates were forced to hunt down particular ship lines (ropes) in a relay-style competition. Watch A emerged victorious, with watches B and C following closely behind (Justin may or may not have stacked the questions in his watch's favor...).

    Finally, and most exciting, a sea monster was captured by our noble deckhand Jimmy. After a fierce battle lasting nearly three days (about 3 minutes), Jimmy hauled a monstrous fish (likely a kind of skipjack) out of the ocean with nothing more than a net. The monster struggled tremendously, its monster heart beating well after extracted from its body (Indian Jones-esque, see "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" for reference). We hope to devour it for dinner tomorrow night with a nice lemon-butter sauce.

Jan

01

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton
  • Current Position: 24° 50.4'N x 082° 30.1'W;
  • Current Weather: Winds ESE F4; air temperature 23° Celsius
  • Photo Caption: Even from aloft, no land in sight!
  • Now that the Wharton crew are nearly three whole days in, we're feeling like experts at boat checks, setting the sails, and wolfing down delicious meals before we have to report for watch. Today, it was time to graduate to something trickier: climbing up to the tops and furling and unfurling sails on the bow-sprit. We're pleased to report that all the students ventured both up the fore-mast and out beyond the bow – a good sign that stomachs and legs are acclimating. Another new development has been the increase in social and recreational activities as people settle into watch and sleep schedules. On deck today: lots of photo sessions, guitar duets, and playing around with mud (for science). The SEA staff has been encouraging us to go beyond just our watch duties as well. The crew on mid-watch (2300 – 0300) were treated to a 45-minute tour of the stars by the Chief Mate. No classroom was ever more beautiful than the clear night sky above our sails.

Dec

31

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton
  • Current Position: 24° 18.23'N x 082° 37.82'W
  • Current Weather: Winds east south east at 4 knots; air temperature 23° Celsius
  • Photo Caption: Teamwork in action as students and crew together haul on the halyard to set the main sail.
  • Over the past twenty four hours, we have experienced our first series of night watch rotations. We are finally getting our "sea legs" and "sea stomachs" under control. The wind and water seem rough to our new sea eyes, but we were still able to survive - and enjoy! - day #2 on the high seas. We even successfully completed five scientific deployments including several neuston net tows. At around noon today, we watched TV, correction we saw a TV passing by the ship, drifting with the local wind and current. Who knew TVs could float? It was beautiful, sunny day abroad, and we spend some time in our watch rotations discussing and reflecting on our previous days. Happy New Years!! We watched the best ball drop from the top of the ship. We also cracked open some Root Beers and Cokes to cheers!

Dec

30

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton
  • Current Position: Approximately 15 miles south of Key West, Florida
  • Current Weather: Mostly cloudy skies; winds southeast 20 knots; air temperature 23°C
  • Photo Caption: The view from Cramer's bow as we sailed away from the anchorage.
  • Anchors up! Early this afternoon the Corwith Cramer set sail for good, engine free. As of 2100, the crew is en route to an area of science exploration in order to collect marine data for a collaboration with the US Navy. At this point, Key West - and the mainland United States - is nothing more than a faint light in the far-off distance. The day started bright and early for everyone. We spent most of the day on the deck as a group, learning safety drills and how to set the sails. Luckily, the weather was very cooperative - partly sunny and warm (well, not cool). Once the safety drills were finished (rest assured we know what to do in the case of sea monsters), we learned how to "gybe," a way of dealing with the sails while turning the boat. We also officially started our "watches," the rotations that we will follow for the duration of the trip. There are three groups - A, B and C - and each watch lasts either four or six hours, depending on whether it is day or night. Watches consist of everything from boat checks (making sure everything is in good working order), night watches (keeping track of surrounding ships and weather), science experimentation (data collection and analysis) and log keeping, among many other things. And when we're not on watch, we're probably sleeping or eating below deck (speaking of food, it’s been great! Three meals and three snacks per day - clam chowder for lunch, pork loins for dinner, and brownies waiting to be enjoyed tonight). Without question, everyone is looking forward to becoming more comfortable with our new shipboard environment and the challenges of the days ahead.

Dec

29

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton

SSV Corwith Cramer C232a - Wharton
  • Current Position: 24° 33.1'N x 081° 49.1'W; Anchored near Key West, Florida
  • Current Weather: Mostly cloudy skies; winds east 12 knots; air temperature 17°C
  • Photo Caption: Kwan and Jason unpack into their new bunks.
  • The Wharton crew made it to Key West safe and sound, despite the trials and travails of Snowcalypse 2010 (i.e., the Northeast blizzard). Fourteen excited Wharton-ites boarded and settled in on the Corwith Cramer, the 135 foot long brigantine that we will be sailing for the next eight days in the Florida Straights.

    After a series of four orientation stations – during which we covered topics such as the galley (i.e., the kitchen), the quarterdeck and doghouse (i.e., the steering and navigation areas), the hourly boat check, and line handling (i.e., how to safely handle the ropes) – the Wharton crew were inundated with a new language, new tasks and a new way of living in this "foreign country." At 2200, the new shipmates enjoyed a "late-night" snack of chocolate chip cookies while perusing the ship's extensive library, and are getting ready for their last full night of sleep. Starting at 0700 tomorrow, the Wharton crew will begin their first complete day on Cramer and will officially set sail in the afternoon, destination to be determined based on the winds and currents.