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Voyages

SSV Corwith Cramer Blog

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May

09

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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Sunday, 8 May, 2011
Alongside Key West
Temperature:  HOT!

Picture caption:  The Alumni (!!) and crew of Class C-234.  (photo by Chief Scientist Jeff Schell)

Fair winds, you crazy mammals! 

You’ve only recently departed the vessel this morning, yet the spirit of C-234 lives on!  Thanks to you all for a fabulous trip and for being the best of shipmates!

See you all at alumni weekend!

Fair winds!
Captain Beth

May

09

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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Saturday, May 07, 2011
Image caption:  The C234 faculty at the Market with Norma.  Captain Beth Doxsee, Maritime History faculty Carl Herzog, and Chief Scientist Jeff Schell. 

From the deck of the Corwith Cramer, the sun rose over the still waters of Hawk Channel off Key West Saturday morning. Only the anchor watch of Mari, Chris, and Brianna were on deck to see the dawn of C-234’s last day underway, but soon nearly the entire crew was on deck as the ship hauled back her anchor and motored into Key West harbor. By 8 am, the ship was tied up at the dock in Key West, concluding a voyage of nearly 2,300 nautical miles. With the ship safely secured alongside, the students began the process of cleaning out the bunks they’ve called home for the last six weeks. Tonight, they’ll celebrate the conclusion of the voyage and their semester program before departing the ship tomorrow morning. As both a maritime studies instructor for their shore component and a sailing member of the crew for their voyage, I’ve had the pleasure of watching the students of C-234 learn and grow over the last three months. The love of the sea that they each expressed on the first day of the program in Woods Hole has grown into an intimate knowledge of the ocean environment. They have become both blue water sailors and working scientists. Similarly, their initial enthusiasm for visiting the islands of the Caribbean has grown into a complex, first-hand understanding of the diverse cultures, ecologies and histories of the region. During the shore component, each of them produced a research paper about some element of change in the Caribbean. Topics ranged from the cultural significance of souvenirs to the allocation of water resources in rural areas. They then continued their research during the voyage with first-hand observations and interviews during visits to the islands. They discussed religion with Rastafarians, learned about farming practices from farmers, snorkeled on reefs with local oceanographers, and much more. In addition to their focused research, all the students gained new insights on the Caribbean and its peoples through the less structured contacts made in the markets, on the streets, in the churches, at the beaches and the myriad other places they visited during the Cramer’s port stops.

Shipboard discussions of the port visits showed that the students walked away with much more nuanced understanding and appreciation of the places they visited and the people they met. They will carry these memories with them back to life ashore, and consciously or not, their impressions will help shape how they respond to future lessons both in class and in life. In short, I believe they have become better citizens of the world because of this experience.
I am proud and honored to call them my students as well as my shipmates.

Carl Herzog
Maritime Studies
SEA C-234

May

09

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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06 May 2011
Anchored off Key West
Watching the sun set at sea for the last time on C234.

Image caption:  Thanks to Chief Mate Rachel and First Scientist Maia who organized our very own Cramer, Schooner Olympics.

End of cruise reflection by. Chief Scientist Jeff Schell

I am overwhelmed.  Where to begin?  How do I explain what a wondrous trip it has been? 

As Academic Coordinator I can state some facts.everyone passed.everyone has learned so much.in fact 17 academic credits worth of learning has happened over the last 3 months!  For those at home who helped support this academic adventure it has been money well spent.  But I assure you the value of this experience for each student is infinitely greater than the dollars and cents, school credits, or any other conventional measure deemed important by society.  These intangible experiences are personal and consequently diverse in nature.  Though specific details vary I assure you each student has had to stand by their decisions and confidently lead their watch, to speak up and have their voice and their ideas heard.  Equally important each student has learned to recognize the value of being a supporting member of a team; to follow directions swiftly, with alacrity, and without question to keep the ship and shipmates safe.  Each student has overcome personal adversity in its myriad forms, learned from it, and is now the wiser.  Each student has experienced an event they will never forget and has likely experienced something they wish they could forget.  Each student has been required, by the needs of the ship and the community, to do something they wish they didn’t have to do, but they sucked it up, did it, and lived to tell the tale.  And many have lived a dream by having accomplished something they always wanted to do.  At some point in the cruise each student experienced fear, sadness, joy, doubt, accomplishment, humility, assuredness, and pride. It has been a rich experience, a time of personal growth that cannot be measured in any conventional, uniform way.  Though the details vary, I know that each student returns to shore not as they departed.  Perhaps now you can understand why I have a sense of being overwhelmed, trying to summarize our cruise, C234 - Documenting Change in the Caribbean from St. Croix USVI to Key West, USA. 

Similarly, do not be surprised if your sons and daughters are equally challenged by the task to capture in words what it means to have played their part in sailing the Corwith Cramer over 2200 nm as an integral member of the sailing crew, as a scientist, as a conscientious global citizen.  Be prepared for the standard answer, “Oh, it was great, we sailed from St.Croix to Key West..we stopped in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica along the way..It was really cool!”  And then there will be a pause while they consider what to say next.  Where to begin?  How to explain such a completely foreign, entirely personal experience that requires so much familiarity with the customs and language of a sailing/ research ship in the Caribbean Sea?  They too will feel overwhelmed.  Expect to hear quite a bit about the port stops, they are the easiest part of the experience to explain, the stories will sound the most familiar.  “I saw this, did that, tried such and such local food.”  Such stories are easy to relate from personal experience.  But realize that we visited these stops not as tourists, rather as students looking for a deeper understanding, appreciation, and respect for the history, culture, and nature of the island and the people.  So do not be surprised if their stories include a chance meeting with a woman at the market, or their surprise at the songs played during Easter mass, or the amount of trash they cleaned up at the beach, or a description of local agricultural practices.  Though the retelling of their voyage will likely begin with the port stops, do not be lulled, the port stops may be convenient bookends, chronological pegs upon which to hang the cruise in familiar terms, but much of the story, the adventure, the drama, the tears, the laughter, the triumph happened in that most mysterious of places, the open ocean.above and below the surface. 

I encourage you to dig deep and look beyond the dust jacket synopsis and laudable reviews presented in the daily web blog.  But be patient, slowly the stories will unfold.  They may seem strange and hard to follow at first. In the retelling of a story your son and daughter may begin laughing about a joke you were unable to follow.  There may be no sense of chronology to the stories; time can be a tricky thing at sea.  With a rotating watch system, hours, days, weeks merge one into the other.  Try not to judge the value of the story based on these aesthetic qualities, instead read the passion in their voice as they describe the night they witnessed bioluminescence for the first time at sea.  Instead, watch as a smile forms across their lips when they recount the day they successfully cooked for the entire ships company (and cleaned up after them as well !!).  Look for a proud stance and air of authority as they explain their scientific findings or describe the many marine organisms they learned to identify.  (For the latter, I encourage you to ask for a drawing to help illustrate the strange, yet beautiful critters collected nightly in our nets!)  Enjoy the quickened pace and hand gestures that will accompany their descriptions of sailing maneuvers and hauling in perfect rhythm on the Main halyard or furling on the bow sprit in heavy seas!  In short, do not judge the experience based on the narrative alone, or simply the gigabytes of pictures; the content and language may be too unfamiliar and the account so personal, that it may be challenging for you to contextualize and fully appreciate the story. Instead be moved by the tone, emotion, and expression of your storyteller. Therein lays the true heart, meaning, and value of our adventure on Mother Cramer.

Though I often invoke the metaphor of a book or story to help explain this cruise, C234, I realize it is grossly inadequate.  No single book could capture this rich story; instead imagine an entire shelf of first edition masterpieces.  Each a story like no other.  The captain and I have merely dressed the stage with various sundry accoutrements and necessities (sails, lines, scientific equipment, food, water, fuel, etc).it is the professional crew and the students who have populated the stage, filled the pages of these many stories and given them life, meaning, purpose, direction.  I am lucky to have been a bit player in such wonderful stagecraft.  My thanks go out to all of my shipmates for a wonderful cruise I shall never forget.  And my thanks also to our eager and interested audience back home that has found some manner of entertainment from our adventures.  Good night and sweet dreams! 

Cheers
Chief Scientist
Jeffrey M. Schell

May

06

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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05 May 2011
24° 10.138’ N x 082° 57.462’ W
Winds: Fickle
Speed: about 8 kts, 1/2 motor, 1/2 Gulf Stream
Heading: 100°

Figure caption:  The much appreciated, highly anticipated Swim Call !!

The students all look like pufferfish right now, fitting in every possible experience that they squeeze in- the last dawn watch, the last presentations, the last henna tattoos…you get the idea. They are feeling the affection that they have come to have for each other, and it’s a nice way to come to the end of this particular journey.

Items of note in the last 24 hours- The C234 class reps have been selected…by unanimous vote, the class elected Chris Bowman and Ellie Howser to work together to keep everyone in touch with each other, and SEA. A third fish has presented itself to us, a 2 foot plus Wahoo, which is now in Steward Maggie’s capable hands. Last night for dawn watch, a very black, very large squall settled in over us, and while all were ready for a blow, it turned out to just be a long freshwater shower.

It’s been a real pleasure to get to know C234, all of their quirks and personalities, but mostly their infectious good humor. They have been patient with each other as they “learn the ropes,” and patient with me as I relearn the ropes. They definitely have learned the meaning, in their hearts, of what it means to be a good shipmate, and I know the crew have enjoyed watching this process, and enjoy knowing that they will be able to apply this to the rest of their lives.

Thanks to SEA for finding a berth for me to come teach, and a shout out to Max and Jasper, and Jodi, holding down the fort.

Rick Jones, science illustrator
Or, Ricky Lee

May

05

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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04 May 2011
24° 09.9’ N x 083° 34.0’ W
Winds: NE x N F4
Speed: 3.6 kts
Heading: 010° Full and By

Caption: The Cramer, moments before setting sail for home.

Chris and Lucy here, writing the last blog from the students for C-234. So much excitement happened today! Oscar (a buoy we use for drills) fell overboard (again for the second time this trip), so we had to go back and retrieve him in yet another successful man overboard drill. We have since tied him to the main’sl. Safe to say he will not be going anywhere else for the remaining duration of the trip. After we debriefed the drill, we had swim call! We got on our bathing suits and took the bowsprit by storm. We all waited anxiously for the call, “Pool’s open!” and our one and only chance to swim in the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) of Cuban waters. Everyone jumped in one at a time, of course-and got to experience the pull of the Gulf Stream firsthand. The water was amazing and we were all refreshed and ready to be on our way again by the time we were back on board.

Everything is coming to a head as we tack our way toward Key West. Our last assignments are due tomorrow for Chris, that means his last college assignment ever!!-and everyone’s idle time is filled with last minute school work. We are trying to soak up the last few days on Cramer as best we can, spending our time aloft, hanging out with our now dear friends, and depriving ourselves of sleep as we try to fit everything in. Since we’re rolling into Key West on Friday, we only have a day and a half left of sailing. Though we’re excited to see friends and family again, we are dreading saying goodbye to the ship and each other. These are the moments that we never want to end.

It’s hard to believe that in such a short amount of time a group of 18 students has become so close. Strangers have become best friends, awkward hellos have become never ending laughs, housemates and classmates have become shipmates and family, and for 12 weeks we lived the dream together never imagining that it would come to an end. We are all indebted to our families, friends, mentors, and those who encouraged us to pursue the adventure of our lives. Because of you we lived the lives that most others can’t even imagine, and for that we can’t thank you all enough. We would also like to thank all of our teachers, crewmembers, and all of the staff at SEA. You have made all of the difference in this experience, and it wouldn’t have been the same without you. This will always be more than a story and a distant recollection. It will be a near and dear memory that we will never forget, and we will all share forever.

…this is Chris, Lucy, and SEA Class C-234 signing off.

May

05

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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Tuesday, May 3nd, 2011
23° 39.38’ N X 84° 15.86’ W
Heading: 140º
Wind: EXN, Force:4 (11-16kts)
Speed: 6.5 knots

Caption: Brian and Lucas filleting a “huge” Mahi at night

The tradition of using the Gulf Stream as a conveyor belt is a long one that continues strong today.  And on the Corwith Cramer, we are no different. Today we spent the majority of the day taking advantage of the 2-4 knot current provided by the East bound river while beating to windward along the North coast of Cuba.  Unfortunately given the nature of this wonderful predictable current we were not the only ones taking advantage of it, giving my Junior Watch Officer, Lucas Meyer his first debut into collision avoidance during dawn watch (0300-0700).  This can be an especially interesting activity when the other vessel zigzags in your path with a 6 mile long tow astern and no appreciation that a sailing vessel can not just sail any given course requested.  Shortly after the Sun illuminated the skies our watch received a long awaited, short lived shower from a nearby squall that allowed just enough time for B watch to find their untouched foul weather gear. 

Another perk of sailing in this incredible flow of warm water presented itself when B watch took the deck for the evening watch with Kaitlin Tebeau as our JWO.  Shortly after sunset I had begun taking in our fishing line ending yet another unfruitful day when I felt it fight back.  Unsure but stoked all the same Lucas and I pulled in the MONSTER dorado putting the finishing touches on another great day on the Cramer. 

Kaitlin (bioluminesce pants) and I wanted to wish our mothers a Happy Birthday.  And to the rest, I’ll see you soon just take care of the rain situation before I get home.

Brian Barnes
Second Mate

May

03

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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Monday, May 2nd, 2011
2000
23° 44.6’N X 85° 10.9’ W
Heading: 020º
Wind: ExN, Force: 5 (22 kts)
Speed:7 knots

Photo Caption: The Cramer’s Wolf pack gathers at the bow during sunset.

Hi-ya, Lucas and Rebecca here checking in from below deck here on the Cramer. We are presently totally crushing it through the Caribbean Sea at a balmy 7kts, thanks to some serious winds, which are gusting up to 32 kts. It was when we made the turn north around Cuba last night during our mid watch (2300-0300) that the winds and seas picked up in dramatic fashion. We were well aware of the tumultuous weather that this area is known for, but it’s a different story once you are in it. The sailing may be rough but it is totally wicked fun. The excitement was at an all time high while we were sail handling and noticed the raffee downhaul caught in the jib tops’l sail. It was in the ensuing work on the bowsprit to fix this problem that the majority of B watch preceded to be dunked into the sea by crashing swells. But no worries, we were harnessed to the boat and all ended well. 

The academic deadlines of this trip (downer) are drawing ever closer by the day. Everyone has been hard at work preparing presentations and addendums for our research paper topics, completing our oceanography projects and completing our Maritime Studies essays. Don’t worry parents, it’s not all romantic sailing here on the Cramer. There is plenty of hard work off deck to be done. For now, it’s time to sign off. Dawn watch is ahead and some much needed rest is calling.

From the SSV Corwith Cramer, only good times and strong winds.

Hi family and friends, Lucas here. Extreme craziness that I’ll be home in a week. I hope New Hampshire has gotten outrageously exciting while I’ve been gone or else I’m going to have some withdrawal problems. Mommy, I can see Orion’s belt and will teach you more stars when I get home so you know more then one. Pops, still rocking the ‘stache. Bro Sasha, if you’re home from Mongolia, that’s totally awesome. T, hope you crushed in the playoffs. Hannah, keep it up!
Love you all very much and way stoked to see you all.
~Lukey

Hellooohhaaaa family! Ahh! I miss you guys so much, sorry I couldn’t call in Port Antonio, the port stop went so fast and I didn’t end up having any time to access a phone! I can’t believe there’s only four days until we anchor in Key West! It’s been a crazy trip and I can’t believe it’s finally coming to an end. Mom, I can’t wait to hear about all the excitement from home in the past five weeks. Poppy, lets go sailing when I get home! Neens, I love you so much and I can’t wait to visit you in Bmore when I get back (p.s you better step your tanning game up now, just saying). Mema! I love you so much and can’t wait to tell you about everything when I get back!
Love, bex

May

02

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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1 May 2011
21° 39.1’N x 85° 11.8’W
Heading: 320°; WSW of the western tip Cuba
Speed: 6 kts
Weather:  Easterly force 4(11-16kts), 2/8 Cumulus cloud cover, HOT

Caption: Sailing into the night with the full stack set and stars beginning to shine

Hello from SSV Corwith Cramer, this is David Murphy from team science reporting to the world, or at least those interested, WSW of Cuba. The wind has filled in nicely over the last 24 hours and we are currently skirting along in a Force 4(11-16 kts) breeze heading for the Yucatan Channel and around the western tip of Cuba on our way to Key West. Though visible on our radar, Cuba is still below the horizon, something certain to change as we approach our turn. This is a busy shipping channel, and is certainly providing our young Junior Watch Officer’s plenty of really, really big boats to keep track of and steer clear of.

All is well aboard mother Cramer; the proverbial motor is running on all cylinders as the students not only have welcomed the challenges faced before them during phase III, but risen to and surpassed expectations. Arguably, phase III is the staff’s favorite component of the program. In addition to all the academic demands and deadlines, the responsibility of the watch has been more or less handed over to the students. One student is designated Junior Watch Officer(JWO) and has the con of the ship, responsible for notifying Captain Beth on the state of the ship as well as running the routine of the watch:  Sail handling, navigation, coordination with science, and above all, keeping us all safe. Ian Huber had his go at it last night during C-Watch’s mid watch (2300-0300), and performed admirably, guiding us along under the darkness of a moonless sky, perforated only by the brilliance of the stars shimmering brightly above. It is a pleasant site to sail along under this stellar sky. So much so, it inspired our chief mate Rachel Greenough to sing us a beautiful rendition of “Tow Rope Girls”, a traditional shanty, which carried us all to bed and into our dreams. All except Liz Schneider, who took advantage of a post watch ember of energy and stayed up to learn some more about the constellations Scorpio and Libra with star names like Shaula, and everyone’s favorite, Zubenelgenubi! 

There permeates an echo of laughter aboard Cramer, audible in all the nooks and crannies from bow to stern. Whether it cascades down from aloft, or bubbles up from below, there is a symphony of laughter playing throughout the day, commonly emitted from Katie Rice or Mariana Riquelme amongst others, but most certainly shared by all. A sound that is always welcome and one I wish I could bottle up and share with others. It’s contagious and wonderful to see the smiles and the joy knowing full well that this group has been working hard on their projects and fighting the fatigue that comes with life at sea. It’s a magnificent world, this watery realm. Until tomorrow this is Corwith Cramer signing off.

David Murphy
Assistant scientist

May

02

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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29 April 11
21:15
19 58.0’ N
82 303’ W
Currently NW of the Grand Cayman Islands
No wind/calm sea state
Motor sailing
Course: 275 true

Photo Caption: At least 14 Dolphins in front of the bow!

Hello all, Chris and Brianna here. Today was another sweltering day on the Cramer. Temperatures reached close to 95F and as there is no wind to be found we were all looking for ways to keep cool. On the upside we still got to do some pretty sweet things. For example, a few lucky students were woken around midnight to witness our trips first dolphins swimming alongside the bow, highlighted by the bioluminescence. Dolphins were spotted again in the morning for a few short minutes, one of which was a small calf no bigger than two feet (awwww).

Science for today consisted of some dip netting just for fun, which Ben pulled off pretty nicely. He somehow managed to get both types of Sargassum – S. flutans and S. natans - which we haven’t seen this trip yet. Science jargon? Yes. Still exciting? Yes. Other than that A Watch science team pulled out the bathythermograph- an instrument kept on board that looks something like a torpedo that uses a pressurized gas to get a temperature plot that is etched onto gold plated-slides, as it is sent down into the depths. It hasn’t been used in about 15 years and unfortunately it isn’t calibrated so we couldn’t actually collect any data, but it was cool to see an old fashion hydrowinch in action (these were the things they used to find submarines in WWII!).

Field Day however was another story to tell. Still hot and sweaty the crew spent nearly 3 hours cleaning the Cramer, inside and out. She needed it to say the least, after our two stops in Port Antonio and Discovery Bay. Despite the heat and lack of wind it was still nice to take a step back from our projects and assignments, listen to some tunes and hang out together. It was also a nice surprise afterward when the mates treated us to a fire hose-shower to cool us off.

Those who hadn’t seen the dolphins before were treated to a dolphin extravaganza shortly after field day when ~15-20 dolphins swam and leapt around our bow. They hung around for a while and we were all pretty excited. It was just another one of those amazing moments during this trip when we can hardly believe that this is our lives.

It is hard to believe that one week from today we’re going to be anchored off of Key West preparing to depart for home. While pushing to finish final assignments and projects, everyone here is doing their best to take in these last few days that we have to spend with this beautiful ship and each other.

This is my last shout out to all my friends and family. Mom, Dad, Kels I can’t wait to see you guys in KW, sorry our convo got cut out in Jamaica the internet wasn’t workin right. Matt, sorry you can’t make it out bro, but we’ll do it big for your 21st. To everyone else, thanks again for keeping up with this blog, it’s been nice having you all to share the stories with. Hope everyone has a good finals week while I enjoy my last week in the sunshine!
Chris  

Brianna here! Today was a pretty cool day- I was the first Junior Watch Officer last night and I think it went pretty well. A lot of responsibility but with the support of my watch-mates its not so bad. My hands are pretty rough now from handling all this rope (or line). Funny story about that-someone was commenting on how their hair feels softer, but turns out our hands are just rougher! Ha! Silly us. I’m actually working on my tan now so I won’t be less tan than Nancy after spending 5 weeks in the Caribbean and her only 8 days on her cruise. Can’t wait to come home to my family and friends, but wonder how sorely I’m going to miss the ocean after this. Mike- Love you and I’ll see you in Florida! Good luck on all your finals, I know you’ll do great. Dad- I hope you’re not working too hard and tell grandma I say hello! Hugs and kisses to everyone!
Brianna

May

02

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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Saturday, April 30, 2011
Time: 1700
Position: 20° 27.339’N x 083.50° 41.8’ W
Winds light, Beaufort Force 3 from the East Northeast

Photo Caption:  Lucas, Lucy, Ian, and Chris remind us that the famed
styrocast is always a time for celebration!

Post from Steward Maggie Lyon

Wow! We’ve had an action packed day and it’s only 1700. Allow me to give you Maggie’s Minutes on this eventful occasion.

-It is reported dolphins were seen early morning on Dawn Watch.
-At around 0515 a life ring was sighted off our port side. The dawn watch crew maneuvered the ship to retrieve it and found it was (and perhaps had been for some time) a habitat for several fish and barnacles. Science has since identified the barnacles as gooseneck and have saved them in the lab tank for observation.
-Rick Jones, resident illustrator, has been drawing and painting exquisite images seen throughout the ship and the seas we sail. He was painting some dolphins sighted yesterday as of this writing.
-Man tanks (male tank tops) have taken the Cramer by storm.
-A dolphin fish (mahi mahi, dorado) was caught this morning. The fish, about 3 feet in length and weighing in at around 20 pounds, was brought on deck by the brave and strong hands of Ian Huber and Chris Bowman. Jeff Schell spearheaded the filet. The contents of its stomach were removed and identified by team science and its tastier bits made their way to the galley.
-Science tactfully oiled the hydrowire.
-After about a day and a half of on and off motoring due to lack of wind and wacky current, we are please to tell you we are sailing once again, thanks to a little Pagan wind chanting.
-Around midday science deployed (my favorite) the styrocast! This is a process of taking styrofoam cups, decorating them, and taking them down on a weighted hydrowire to extreme depths in order to shrink them with pressure. The result: tiny awesome cups!
-Today marks the beginning of Change Paper presentations. Not only are these presentations on previously researched material, these guys have gone and been to the places they’re studying. How cool is that?
-The temperature today had a high of 32C and a frosty low of 27.2C.
-We sighted our second cruise ship in less than 24 hours.

Like I said, this was only 3/4 of our day. Who knows what lies in store for us this evening…

Now, it’s only fitting for me to leave you with a recipe:

Dorado Crudo
Having fresh fish aboard is one of my great pleasures. The true beauty of the fish stays perfectly intact. In fact all you’re really doing here is jazzing it up a little for a crowd. So, if you ever find yourself sailing off the southwest coast of Cuba, and you happen upon a dolphin fish, I highly recommend you whip this up for your crew.

Ingredients:
2 filets of fresh caught dolphin fish, bloodline removed, sliced thin,  shingled on a platter.

The segments of 3 Jamaican oranges, seeds removed and juice reserved


Sesame Orange Vinaigrette

Zest of one Jamaican orange
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste

Using an immersion blender, or blender, mix all vinaigrette ingredients.
Season to taste.
Using a kitchen paintbrush, brush the vinaigrette over the fish slices.
Top with segmented oranges.
Serve with sesame seeds and chopsticks. Enjoy with friends on the quarterdeck under sail.


Love, love, love,
Maggie

Apr

29

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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Thursday, April 28, 2011
Time: 1900
Position: 19° 20.7’ N x 080° 39.2’ W
Sailing 305°psc
Winds light, Beaufort Force 2 from the ESE

Image caption:  Kaitlin and Zoe deploy the infamous “light attenuation spheroids”...though some data went ‘missing’. 

Greetings from the Cramer! Kaitlin and Zoe here representing the B Watch Bandits on a blissfully cool evening.  Our temperature today reached 32° C, which for all you landlubbers following at home is VERY HOT, especially when combined with a low apparent wind.  Our steamy weather conditions and lack of wind meant that we have been unable to sail all day and have been utilizing our engine for the past twenty hours or so.  Although this is not ideal, it has allowed us to discover more about another area of the ship - the engine room, home of Rick Hamilton, our moustached engineer.
   
The lack of sailing and the proximity of Cuba has also put a momentary damper on our science deployments - except for earlier today when the B Watch Bandits swooped down upon a Sargassum windrow and seized a pufferfish! Named Pickles, this puffy addition to our illustrious crew will only be with us for a bitterly short while before we release him back into the wild.  The morning saw Kaitlin shooting sun lines with Carl, our new celestial goddess, to obtain a navigational fix.  Sun lines, and the much anticipated LAN allow us to figure out our location without having to rely on GPS.  Zoe used her morning hours in the science lab to work on a multitude of assignments whose due dates are looming nearer by the hour. 
 
This afternoon we threw m&m’s over the ship, partly to try and entice a benevolent sea deity to release the wind, but also for science.  By observing the visibility of the various colors of m&m’s as they slowly sank into the depths, we were able to better understand the way light travels through the water.  We then rounded out our class time with a Secchi Disk deployment, whose depth of 34m was correctly guessed by B Watch’s own Rebecca Ebner.
 
A mere 17 minutes ago we entered into the final phase of our time on the Cramer - the JWO phase.  Brianna the brave is the first of the students to stand watch as JWO, and as if that isn’t enough she is standing watch alongside our Captain, Beth, and Chief Scientist Jeff, so best of luck to her!  Our JWO phase also coincides with our final change of mates and scientists, so B Watch is looking forward to our time with Brian and Maia, but also nostalgic for our past mates and scientists.  Luckily the Cramer is only 134 ft long, and it is surprisingly difficult to not see everyone everyday.  That’s all folks, and love from the two southern belles of the Cramer - Zoe and Kaitlin. 

Hey hey family! I miss you guys a lot and I am soo sorry I didn’t get in contact in Jamaica. My phone refused to work. My time at sea since the last time I blogged so long ago has been absolutely amazing! Samana, Dominican Republic and Port Antonio, Jamaica were super interesting and fun. Today I spent the late afternoon chillin’ out on the bow sprit watching the sparrows that found the Cramer. It is absolutely beautiful out here. Dad, I told everyone the story about how you sing to Basil and I taught them the song, and it has been sung at random intervals ever since! To all my friends at Smith and from home, I love you all and I hope you are having a great end of the school year, can’t wait to see you this summer!
PS Mom, I may need a few extra change of clothes from home to pack for Columbia. I couldn’t contact you in Jamaica, so I hope you get the note here. Love you!

Kaitlin “big foot” here sending love to my family and friends - hope you are all doing well, and that this note finds you in good health and good spirits.  Looking forward to seeing you in a few short weeks, and can’t wait to catch up with everyone.

Apr

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Tuesday, April 27, 2011
Time: 1900
Position: 18° 36.3’N x 080° 25.7’ W
Sailing 270°psc
Winds light, Beaufort Force 3 from the SE

Photo caption: Sunsets from the Cramer never get old – glad we have another week and a half to enjoy them.

Greetings from Liz and Lucy (of the watch of champions)! Today has been an eventful day in the world of the Corwith Cramer. Captain Beth is making us step it up – no longer are we allowed to hum and haw over our lines. We had a lot of sail handling to do because our science folks were really busy with cool deployments and needed us to switch up our sail plan to accommodate them. We came onto watch with the squares’ls set (the course, tops’l, and rafee) but needed to strike them and set the main stays’l and the forestays’l. After science did a successful and efficient hydrocast and Neuston tow (go Liz and Ian!), Beth presented us with a challenge: we had to strike and furl the stays’ls and set the squares’ls again, getting us back to our original sail plan. All of this had to be done in 14 minutes. Our mate, however, placed higher trust in us and made a bet with Beth: she thought we could it in 12 minutes. Mind you, this meant that we had to strike two sails, set three, and furl the two that we just struck. As the watch that always wins, however, we completed our task in 12 minutes and 30 seconds! Ha, take that Beth! Sassy Samley was our shadow today, and she was amazing. Samley parents, be proud – she stepped up to the plate and commanded us with confidence and was able to juggle all the details while keeping a keen eye on the big picture. Not one ball was dropped – and that’s how C watch rolls!

In other news, we had a whole load of announcements in class today – SO MANY ASSIGNMENTS COMING UP! Everything is coming to a head as we start up our final phase. All of the due dates for lingering papers and projects are rapidly descending upon us. We’re all bracing ourselves for the crazy vortex of late nights, JWO responsibilities and the final leg of our journey. It’s a little crazy that we are finally at Phase III, but the two of us are really excited for what is to come. Day by day we are feeling more confident, and, as we step up as a team, we feel that our watch will be able to pull together and fill in any blanks we all may have when operating as individuals.  It’s when we work together that things really happen! It is a really fun sight to watch all of our shipmates and friends place more and more trust in each other as responsibility grows.

Keep an eye on the blog for JWO updates – Beth told us today that if we’re gonna mess up, we better do it big (but safely). Should make for some interesting future updates (especially because a widespread group motto is “go big or go home!”). Well that’s all for tonight; Liz and Lucy signing off.

Lucy here. Hi to all the fam and friends – I love and miss you all lots but am still having the time of my life. Everything here is incredible, and it’s crazy that we’re coming to the tail end of this journey. Mom, Dad, Edy – so excited to see you when we get into Key West!  Kates – congrats on Fulbright!! I’m so proud of you and can’t wait to hear about everything. Granny and Boppa – I don’t know if you’re reading this, but I love and miss you so much! I’m super anxious to see you and tell you about everything once I get home!
All my love, forever and always, L

Greetings and Salutations! Everything has flown by so fast here. It’s so easy to lose track of the date, and when I realized today there’s only a week and a half left at sea it took me by surprise. Sorry that I couldn’t reach you guys in Port Antonio. I can’t wait to see everyone when I get home, and I’ll call when we get back to the states. Dad, you’re not going to believe how crazy it was going aloft to furl sails before we got into Jamaica! Thanks to everyone for helping me to get out here, I can’t wait to tell everyone all about it! To the whole family, I love you guys. I hope everything’s going well in Jersey (and that the weather there is warming up).  Jon, I love you. I know it’s been a long five weeks. Well, gotta go.. Let’s see if I can’t get some sleep in before mid watch at 2300. Fair winds

Liz

Apr

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26 April 2011
Underway from Discovery Bay, Jamaica

Photo Caption: Brianna snorkeling in Discovery Bay!

Hey everyone! It’s Nalyse and Mari, live from the Corwith Cramer at 3:05am, kind of like a Tuesday night, everything feeling alright!  Or as they say in Jamaica, “everything is irie, much respect mon!”  As you probably can already tell, today was a very exciting day.  We arrived at Discovery Bay earlier this morning with our four lovely guests from the University of the West Indies.  They had a blast on the Cramer, taking part in various science deployments from which they obtained samples for their own scientific projects.  After arriving, we took a bumpy boat ride around the Bay area for a little tour while Cramer took some more gravity core samples. 
After the boat ride, we learned a lot about the Discovery Bay Marine Lab and its many projects and facilities.  After the lecture, we were privileged to use their equipment to go snorkeling.  Can you guess what invasive species is the big-shot in Jamaica?  Lion Fish!  They’re everywhere, those tricky little venomous fish.  What’s actually remarkable about these fish is that they’re edible.  We indulged in these delicacies after snorkeling, of course after they were handled and cooked the right way.  Back to Sailing we go, heading to our final port stop, KEY WEST, FLORIDA! We are so excited for what’s coming next and getting prepared for the new phase. becoming Junior Watch Officers!

- Oh heyyy! Just want to say hi to my family and friends! Jamaica was so great and fun! It’s all happening a little too fast but I can’t wait to see you and tell you all about it! Love you all and I’ll see you sooner than later! Besos y abrazos! - Mari

Hey Family.  Just want to say, I’m almost home, expect my call as soon as I get to Key West.  I’m having a wonderful time on the boat, and had great experiences during the port stops, learned a lot, met fascinating people.  Can’t wait to see you guys and share all my stories.  Love you much! - Nalyse

Image attached:  C234_26Apr11

Apr

26

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Monday, April 25, 2011
Time:1400 (2:00 PM)
Position: 18° 17.3’ N by 076° 29.3’ W
Sailing 314° True
Making 2 knots under the 4 lowers and tops’l
Winds light, Beaufort Force 2-3 from the east

Photo caption:  Chris and Ian captivate their audience (visiting students and professors from the University of West Indies) during the Oceanography Poster Session. 

Post from Chief Scientist Jeff Schell

Sailing again!  We are underway from Port Antonio, Jamaica en route to Discovery Bay, Jamaica; a short, overnight sail that is part of a scientific collaboration with the University of West Indies - Mona campus.  As part of this collaboration 2 marine science, graduate students and 2 undergraduate students have joined us for the sail.  The combined research mission is to document the distribution of fish larvae in relation to along-shore currents, human development, and water chemistry.  More specifically, we expect to find evidence of the invasive lionfish (native to the Indo-Pacific) that has caused severe damage to local reef fish populations. Additionally, we hope to document dispersal patterns of lionfish larvae in order to predict areas of further invasion; an exciting collaboration to say the least.  What this means for the students and crew is a busy night of sailing and science.  In fact we are no more than 30 minutes from leaving Port Antonio and we have already conducted our first neuston tow.  The net, and now our buckets, are full of coastal algae and, as we hypothesized, fish larvae. 

The entire deployment schedule is our most ambitious to date, but I know the students are ready for the challenge.  Just this morning the students presented preliminary results of their oceanography projects.  You would not believe your eyes and ears, the students talking like the seasoned, sailor-scientists they are; showing off their data.  I wish there was room in this short blog to summarize all the interesting findings, but suffice it to say, the students taught me a thing or two.  Not surprising since the students are now local experts on their various topics.  These students have just spent the last four weeks working with the samples, making the graphs, running the statistical tests.  None of the answers they are looking for can be found in a textbook.  They are gathering new information…they are experiencing those moments of discovery!  It was great to see how far they have come in such a short time.  Consequently, I am fairly confident that this group of students is ready for the next challenge. 

Be sure to check in tomorrow and learn if we were successful in our - Hunt for the Invasive Lionfish!

Cheers
Jeff

Image attached:  C234_25Apr11

Apr

25

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Saturday, the 23rd, & Easter Sunday April 24, 2011
9:09
Alongside at the Errol Flynn Marina, Port Antonio, Jamaica

Image Caption:  Easter Crab delivers the good, a welcome treat for the students as they work on their project posters!

Rick Jones, visiting science illustrator, and ancient steward from long ago, here in Port Antonio. After a long trip from the cool spring of daffodils in New York, it was a pleasant shock to arrive in Caribbean lushness. There are banana trees everywhere, breadfruit, palm, pineapple plantations, and flowers are abundantly showy. There are even airplants, Tillandsia, perhaps, growing on the telephone wires.

Saturday saw everyone seeking the experience of Jamaica in their own ways. One group went to the Blue Lagoon, a deep blue hole with a cool freshwater lens floating over the top. Most of the crew dropped into the market which was bustling before the Easter holiday; many lessons were learned about the fruit and spices of the Caribbean, and probably about the art of negotiation as well. A search for the grail of jerk cooking has been informally conducted, with Carl, Rick H. and Jeff each coming up with some stellar examples of janga (large crayfish), chicken and pork, which the rest of us benefitted from. Our Jamaican observer, Renee, left with her family, and will be missed for her humor, and knowledge of Jamaica. She became a real shipmate right away, and we hope to see her in December.unless she’s in graduate school.

Beth and I made the predawn trek to the Anglican Church for Easter sunrise service. It’s a beautiful building inside, sky blue paint, with deep, rich wood accents. As the service proceeded, the sun rose over the harbor, roosters crowed, and the shush of waves combined with some lively hymn singing and a strong sermon about desperation in the community were a powerful view of another side of Jamaican life.

A side note.the Marina has almost every Errol Flynn movie ever made, and show them nightly in the bar outdoors, to the accompaniment of peepers. Charge of the Light Brigade, Gentleman Jim, and the Adventures of Don Juan have been favorites.

Image attached:  Ricky Lee2

Apr

25

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Friday April 22, 2011
21:55
Anchor at Port Antonio, Jamaica

Caption: Lucy jumping off the bowsprit during a swim call in Samana on starboard watch’s work day!

Hello hello from the beautiful and tropical Port Antonio, Jamaica! Today was our first full day here and everyone had an awesome day. There were two separate field trips to choose from; everyone was so excited and let us tell you, it was hard to decide between the two. You could either do a natural history hike or go to Mooretown, home of the Windward Maroon Community. The crew and students split up and everyone had such a fantastic day that people are about ready for bed at 2200!

Both of us chose different trips. The natural history hike was dropped off first and crossed a river to begin climbing a mountain. Along the way, our guides pointed out the different crops being grown and talked some about their histories in the area. At different points along the trail, our guides found us some local fruits and plants to taste, which was a great way to snack as we went. From the highest point of our climb, we could see all the way to the sea, and the entire valley we climbed out around. It was quite a view. On our way back down, we stopped at a waterfall and took a splash in the water. It was beautiful, and a refreshing way to conclude a day of hiking. To meet back up with the other group, we crossed the river on long bamboo rafts, which was definitely a cool experience.

The Mooretown visit was so great. We arrived in the mountain community in the warm rain that drizzles down every 10 minutes or so. We met up with the Colonel Sterling, who runs the community today and he talked in length about Maroon customs, the Jamaican national hero Nanny, political issues and stances of the Maroons, and how the Jamaican government interacts with their community. The Colonel was so knowledgeable and peaceful; it was inspiring and such an awesome experience. After all of our questions were answered, some of the elder Mooretown residents took some traditional drums out and started singing and dancing. Everyone was transfixed by the music, their voices, and how agile and energetic these men were. We were then ushered out into the sun to hike a pretty tough terrain of mud and stones to the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen, with natural pools and lush forest all around. It was well worth the sweat and scratches procured along the way!

It has been a long and beautiful day in Port Antonio and we’re both ready for bed! But first, shout outs!!

Hello world! It’s Cara. Just wanted to wish my brother a happy belated 19th birthday. Things are going well in the ship and getting ready for JWO phase. Hope everything is well back in the states.

Hey Hey everyone! Rebecca reporting in.  Jamaica is so awesome, wish you guys could be here to see and hear all that is here. The ship is great and I’m learning so much! Mom, you would be so proud of my memorization skills now; and dad, you should see me haul like a true mammal on some of these lines! Woah! Time for bed! Can’t wait to tell you guys so much more! Love you all -Rebecca

Down and Out! So much peace and love from the Corwith Cramer in Jamaica!
Image attached:  C234_22Apr11

Apr

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Thursday, April 21, 2011
1830
Alongside in Port Antonio, Jamaica

Photo Caption:  The beautiful Cramer.

Greetings from Jamaica!  It was a very busy and exciting morning as we prepared to dock in Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio.  Students from C watch (woo) climbed aloft to furl the tops’l and the course.  We then struck all the sails and motored into the harbor where we docked successfully. From what we have seen of Jamaica so far, it is beautiful.  We are all excitedly waiting for the field trips tomorrow, when we will get to see a lot more of the region and the culture.  One group is taking an adventurous nature hike while the other gets to experience the culture of the historic MooreTown community. 

All the students spent the afternoon working on assignments and preparing for the upcoming project presentations which we will give to an audience of students from the University of West Indies on Monday.  After an exciting day, we got to enjoy a delicious taco dinner prepared by Maggie and Zoe, the assistant steward for the day, and many folks even got to dip in the Marina’s pool and take real showers. 

Tonight, “port” watch is on duty while “starboard” watch students have the evening off to explore Port Antonio.  Although it seems like our trip is flying by so fast, we are all so happy that we have arrived at our second port stop and we can’t wait for all the adventures we will have over the next few days.

- Sassy and Ian

Hi to all my family and friends back home.  I miss you all!  I hope everyone is doing well, and I can’t wait to see you in a few weeks.  I am having an amazing time at sea, and don’t worry I haven’t fallen overboard at all.  I hope you have a great Easter break!
Love,
Becca

Hello family.  It’s been maybe a week since my last post. Everything is still great.  Now I even have an excellent farmers tan.  I still appreciate you.  Love from Jamaica.
-Ian

Apr

21

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011
2100
18º31.5’N x 075°56.5’W
Heading: 175º
Wind: E X S, Force: 3 (12kts)
Speed: 4 knots

Image caption:  Nalyse and Mari pose with the 2-Meter Net. 

Greetings from the Cramer. We have had a bumpy last 24 hours as we make our final approach to Jamaica. We caught some of the aftershock of an Atlantic gale late last night and it sent the boat a rockin and a rollin all the way into this morning. We experienced the first really large waves since the beginning of the trip and most of us had forgotten what it felt like to be sea sick. But through it all we managed to continue our duties with vigor. We even managed to get a good deal of science done over the Formigas Bank, despite the difficulty of deploying in tall waves.

I think this last bit of fury from the sea has made us all the more excited to get to safe docking in Port Antonio, Jamaica, where we can get a night a sleep where we won’t be tossed around in our sleep. We plan to arrive in port around noon tomorrow but won’t be headed onto land until the next day.

We have been doing a lot of different deployments of scientific instruments, including our first deployment of the two-meter net, pictured above. Also, we have preliminary results for our projects! We all produced graphs with some of our data to share with fellow students at today’s Oceanography group meetings. When we make it to Jamaica we will be able to present these results to graduate students from the University of West Indies.

Well we are gearing up for our watch tonight from 2300 to 0300 and then land ho!

Yo parental units and others, I hope all is well at home! I have been learning so many things including splicing lines, tying knots, and I even learned to cook! Yesterday was my day in the galley and the wonderful Maggie taught me many tricks for future use! We can’t wait to get to Jamaica and we are enjoying the calm winds and sea state which should lend themselves to a better nights sleep tonight. Much love talk soon!
Katie

Hey families! Everything is great on the ship and I will to call you soon and tell you all about it. Hope you all have wonderful Easters.
Loves and kisses,
Ben

Image attached:  C234_20Apr11

Apr

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Monday, April 18, 2011
1600
18º49.2’N x 074°37.2’W
Heading: 270º
Wind: NNE, Force:4 (15kts)
Speed: 5 knots

Photo Caption: Lucas ponders a Winkler Titration at sunset….. with a silly hat. 

Hello Land, Kate and Lucas reporting here from the Cramer. As a full red moon rose over Haiti last night, B Watch began one of their most exciting watches yet. With winds reaching force 7 winds (32 kts) and seas rising at times to 13 feet, it was a wild ride. Our science deployments were cancelled for the evening and safety lines were established the length of the deck. It was a rocky, but safe night thanks to the Cramer and her fearless leaders Jeff and Capt. Beth. We are presently sailing towards Jamaica in the Windward Passage near the west coast of Haiti. We, the students, are beginning to show a lot of independence as both sailors and scientists. The questions are fewer and the pace is much higher. A pleasant change for the students and most definitely the crew. Today, we advanced our knowledge as sailors during class by learning how to both splice and whip a line. It is with such classes that we have begun to tackle various projects on our own. For example, Kate and Katie learned how to make Turks Head bracelets and Lucas has learned how to make a Sennit bracelet. This knowledge has definitely diffused across the ship to anyone who wants to know. However, there is only so much time for any sort of extracurricular activity, for the due dates on many of our various academic projects are fast approaching. With Jamaica only a day and a half away, the sudden realization of the brevity of our trip is setting in. Therefore, Kate and I must be going, there is much to be done and very little time.

Helllllllllo family and friends. Everything is going stupendous here on the Cramer. I am stupefied by how quickly everything is going and can’t believe I’ll be in Jamaica on Thursday and will be hearing from me around then. I’m trying to absorb as much as I can while on board, so I can share it all with you when I get home. Mommy, you’ll be happy to know I shaved my beard. Pops, you’ll be happy to know my mustache stayed. Sorry mom, LOVE YOU.
Miss everyone dearly and will talk to you soon,
~Lucas

Hey family and friends!!! As you have gathered I will be in Jamaica soon and will be talking to you soon and until then will be super busy. In fact, I have to run back to the lab in a minute to continue identifying fish larvae for my oceanography project. I’ve been up since around 4am when I got up to shoot stars as part of celestial navigation. You will all be shocked to know that I’ve been doing this somewhat regularly by choice! Off to the lab followed by mid-watch until 3am.

Love you all very very much and can’t wait to share all my stories!
xoxo Kate

Image attached:  C234_19Apr11

Apr

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Monday, April 18, 2011
1900
19º54.4’N x 073°32.3’W
Heading: 275º
Wind: ENE, Force: 5
Speed:  6 knots

Photo Caption: Kelly and Ellie sailing past Haiti!

This is Kelly and Ellie reporting!  We are currently sailing near the coast of Haiti.  Today was a very exciting day for sailing.  Last night we needed to sail north in order to ensure that we would have a good sail plan for today.  We spent the early part of the day sailing between Haiti and Tortuga, which brought images of Jack Sparrow to everyone’s mind. It has been so fascinating that we have been sailing through the very same waters where so much history has taken place.  It’s a good thing we waited for day light to travel through this passage, it was full of traffic!  There were lots of small sailboats that ferried back and forth between Haiti and Tortuga. We’re not sure what they were doing, but the two of us assume that they were probably fishing.

Last night the two of us were on night watch, which takes place from 1900 to 2300.  It was a beautiful night with calm waters and a full moon. The moon was so bright it lit up the whole ship, and we were able to see the reflection of the sails in the water, very idyllic. The two of us also had a chance to spend some time at the helm, and because it was such a nice night for sailing the ship was able to steer itself.  It’s really nice that all of us have started to get so comfortable with the workings of the ship; we’re miles ahead of where we were just a couple of weeks ago.

Today, we had the morning watch from 0700 to 1300, which put us right in the action of our exciting passage.  What was especially nice was that everyone came up on deck to join us.  Its pretty rare that we’re all together at once outside of class.  Speaking of class, we learned about bioluminescence and deep sea ecosystems.  The bioluminescence has become one of our favorite parts about night watches.  The little zooplankton and various small critters light up in the water as they pass our ship.  It was interesting to learn today how and why that happens.  Although a lot of the deep sea fishes light up as well they are not nearly as cute as the little guys at the surface.

Due to the calm waters there was very little sail handling that went on today, so all of us had a chance to catch up on some work, which was needed by all.  Most of us worked on our oceanography projects, but others worked on various other assignments, of which there are plenty.  All in all, it was an awesome day!

Kelly and Ellie

Hi Mom and Dad, tell that big brother of mine I said happy birthday!  Things are going really well.  I’ll call you from Jamaica and tell you more.  Mom, I’m really looking forward to our road trip in May (especially to the daily shower I’ll get to take and the laundry I’ll be able to do in real electronic washing machines).  I love and miss you both!  -Kel

Hello from the Jolly Roger!  Last night was the full moon and in true Clear water fashion, I prowled the deck just like the Tajar does looking for mischief to create.  As my watch mates can attest to however, my off-pitch singing and obvious avoidance of galley clean-up was enough folly for one night so alas I was unable to pull a true Tajar prank.  My bunk gets messier by the day, but my pictures of you all make it feel like home.  And in case you couldn’t tell from the picture, I wear Grammie’s safari hat most days and it has been quite a hit!  I love you all and think of you often during this extraordinary experience.  -Ellie Belle

Image attached:  C234_18Apr11

Apr

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Friday April 15th 2011
19º 49.1’ N x 069º 28.5’ W
Heading:  210º
Speed: 3 knots
Weather: Beaufort force 2, cloud cover 4/8, air temperature 30º C

Photo caption: Finally underway again Jamaica, here we come!

Lucy and Ian here, reporting from the Corwith Cramer! It feels so good to finally be back underway and in the swing of things. The boat is rocking us to sleep again, and the wind is back in our hair and sails. The beautiful blanket of indescribably bright stars is back above us, and we’re once again surrounded completely by the endless, majestic ocean. Ahh, it is great to be at it again! After some of us had a semi-rough night once again getting used to the pitching and rolling of the ship, everyone is feeling marvelous today, and spirits are high. There are smiles everywhere you look and lots of laughter to be heard around the deck and down below. Everyone is hard at work on school projects, sail handling, readings, writing, studying, and any number of other tasks that are keeping everyone busy at work.

Shadow phase has really kicked off and is going well. The students are stepping up to the plate and learning how to command many aspects of the ship. Everywhere you look and listen, there is a buzz from students shouting commands or coordinating with mates and scientists. On every watch, we have a JWO shadow and JLO shadow, which means that we have two students who shadow our Watch Officers; one who shadows the mate on duty and delves deeper into the deck/sailing aspects (JWO), and one who shadows the scientist on duty and delves into the science aspects (JLO) ; it’s great to watch our fellow students as they step up responsibility in both deck work and science work.

Lucy was the JWO shadow on C Watch last night and Ellie was the C Watch JWO shadow this morning, and they were thrust onto an even steeper learning curve, which is proving to be daunting but manageable and incredibly informative. Lucy learned how to use the radar to track nearby boat traffic and how to prepare the ship and the deck for any sail handling that may need to occur quickly, and Ellie commanded the setting and striking of numerous sails. C Watch is really turning out some pros (but that’s no surprise cause we all know that C Watch always wins). Our JLOs from the last two watches (Ian and Kelly) have been learning how to coordinate and command the details of science deployments, various analyses and hourly observations. We are all realizing the importance of juggling duties and being incredibly efficient while we work; there is always much to be done, and there is never a spare moment to waste with incompetence. It is really fun to see our peers, shipmates and dear friends learn how to take control to a greater extent. There is a lot to learn before we have to step up as actual Junior Watch Officers, so we are all feeling quite grateful for the time we have now, which allows us to take a certain amount of control while still being able to ask lots of questions of our mates and scientists before we are more solely responsible for the ship’s business.

This afternoon we had a man overboard drill! Everyone hustled to their positions when the “MAN OVERBOARD!” alarm was sounded, and we got the rescue boat and the flotation devices in the water quickly. Rachel, Murph and Rick were able to save the white buoy (aka Oscar, our “man” overboard) and retrieve the floatation devices. You will all be relieved to know that Oscar is back on deck, safe and sound. We also had class this afternoon, and we learned about shooting stars with Ashley. She gave us a very informative run-down of how and why we shoot stars to find our position, and we have an assignment coming up to test our knowledge and ability to use celestial navigation to plot our position with utmost accuracy. It’s always fun to put everything we’re learning into practice!

A quick shout out to Joy and Matt: life is great as ever here on Cramer, but we miss you lots! We all think of you often and hope that all is well for you back on shore!

This is Lucy here’s great big hi to fam and friends! Mom, Dad, Edy - I miss you guys lots, but it was great to talk to you while we were in Samana. I’ll talk to (and maybe see) you in Port Antonio, but, til then, know that I love you lots and am still having an incredible time! Josh, Katie be jealous. My life is amazing J. I love you both and can’t wait to see you when I get back! J you’re gonna have to work all summer to try and catch up to my tan J. Love love and more love to all! 

Hey parents of mine.  This is Ian.  Despite what you may expect (and despite my greatest efforts) I have not yet fallen off the top of a mast or gotten lost at sea.  It may be a bit early to tell, but you guys might even get me back hale and whole one of these days.  Lots of love to you guys and G&G. I’m having a great time, but don’t tell Elissa, she might get a bit too jealous.

Image attached:  C234_15Apr11

Apr

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Mid_Cruise Report C234

Image caption:  The students (and some crew) gather for another adventure onshore in Samana, Dominican Republic. 

This has been a heck of an incredible trip so far, and I am not exaggerating.  Getting off the dock three weeks ago almost seems like ancient history.  Love the downwind sailing in the Trades. 

By all accounts, Class C234 - Documenting Change in the Caribbean has been a success.  In staying true to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, I will provide you with a few vignettes of shipboard life representing the myriad responsibilities of students and crew. 

All day long we had been running downwind with all squares flying, trying to make miles toward a narrow island passage north of Haiti that we wanted to traverse during the day.  As the night watches began, the plan was to stay the course and skip the science station for the night to save on time.  At 2300 with the watch change the captain realized the winds had settled, our progress slowed, and we would not make the passage by daylight on Sunday. That meant time for science deployments and required a change in course, NOW!  At a moment’s notice the students and crew of both watches sprung into action.  By the light of the waxing moon the mains’l was set, the course and topsail were struck, the forestays’l was set and the neuston net and meter net readied for deployment, we gybed the ship and were on station within 45 minutes!  Since we are in Phase II that meant the students were stepping up and leading the evolution of all these changes.  It was a marvelous sight to behold (once my eyes adjusted to the dim moonlight).  To think only three short weeks ago these sailor-scientists were literally and metaphorically green, landlubbers.  And there they were, confidently finding lines in the dark, calling out clear, concise commands, and responding with competence and alacrity.  In short, these individuals had become a crew of shipmates. With each passing day the student-crew has become more and more self-sufficient and handy.  And thus we are able to carry more sail, conduct more scientific deployments, and sail the Cramer farther. 

At this point in the cruise, every student has data for their oceanography projects - perhaps even more data than they would like in a few instances, because now they need to process all of their samples and make sense of the data.  This next step in the scientific process is perhaps the most intimidating for students.  Field research can be messy; there is no right answer that can be checked by flipping to the answer key at the back of the book.  This is the real scientific deal. It is complex and at times frustrating, but it is also the most rewarding kind of science, because there is always a chance to discover something new!  The range of project ideas reflects the individual creativity and ingenuity of this class of students.  Some are chasing after invasive species of fish larvae, eels, and lobsters with our nets, while others hunt historic hurricane patterns in the sediments or subtle changes in climate using dusty volumes of archived logbooks.  Some search for distant, deep water masses or the hidden location of toxic algae blooms, while others hope for a brief sighting of endangered species of mega-fauna.  And finally, some experiment in the lab with sargassum weed, plastic and tar, while others survey coral reefs for changes in water quality and fish diversity.  There is much to learn in the weeks to come as patterns in the data begin to reveal themselves. 

Where do the students get the energy to keep at all this sailing and science?  Well, the galley of course.  The most important aspect of any successful voyage is keeping the crew fed and well hydrated and we have had that and so much more.  By now all students have had their opportunity to work as assistant steward and help feed the crew of 31 souls, 6 times each day!  To simply provide the calories is no easy task, but to do so with such flare is next to a miracle.  In over three weeks onboard, every meal has been different.  Many students have said, and I am sure all are thinking, that this is the best they have ever eaten on such a consistent basis (Sorry, Mom and Dad).  Some dinner highlights have included: eggplant parmesan, ribs with a home-made, smoky barbecue sauce, roast chicken and potatoes, to name a few.  And somehow there is still fresh fruit for breakfast and salad vegetables for dinner. 

Each hour of every day for the entire six weeks that we are underway on the Corwith Cramer, like clockwork (literally with the sounding of the ship’s bell), a student records the reading from the ship’s taffrail log of our cumulative miles traveled.  Another communicates the average course they steered, and yet another records this information in the ship’s logbook. And perhaps another plots this hourly event on the chart.  So goes one small, but crucial step in a tireless exercise in ship navigation.  Periodically these routine observations are advanced and corrected with the use of sextants, complex navigation tables, precise time keeping, and skilled hands that allow each student-navigator to sight a celestial body and pin it to the horizon.  Thus each day during class when a pair of students reports our present position and distance traveled, they do so because of an accumulation of a multitude of observations provided by every member of the ship’s community.  There is no better example of the interdependency of the ship’s work. 

If you let your imagination go for a bit, one can think of the Corwith Cramer and all its working parts—mechanical, electrical, organic—as an entire ecosystem.  Energy in various forms comes in, is manipulated, controlled and applied in various ways for work, and the excess is given off as waste heat.  Water and food come aboard, are ingested, manipulated and transformed to support work and again waste is produced.  All of these inputs and outputs fall under the purview of the engineer, and each system onboard that maintains a livable equilibrium must be vigilantly monitored. Every student has played their part in the hourly migration down into ship’s engineering spaces to check gauges, dials, fuel levels, and pressure readings, making sure that all systems are functioning within their proper ranges.  In short, the lights are on; we have clean, cold water to drink and warm food to eat; the safety and navigation systems are in operation, and if the trade winds should fail us, we can always use our diesel engine to make our way home.  All systems are go! 

What sets “Documenting Change in the Caribbean” apart from other offerings at SEA is the integration of the port stops into the academic program. The port stops are much more than a place of rest, relaxation, and re-provisioning.  The students landed in St. Croix at the start of the voyage equipped with a historical, cultural, economic, environmental, and political context of the Caribbean that sets them apart from any tourist.  Their arrivals in St. Croix and Samana, Dominican Republic were not simply visits to remote, seemingly exotic (to our North American sentiments) locales, but rather exchange of cultures.  We are fortunate to have many local contacts that helped us make the most out of our island experiences with organized field trips allowing us to interact, communicate, share, learn, and celebrate together with the local community; as opposed to simply arriving, taking photographs and a pocketful of souvenirs in exchange for money and leaving.  Each student has now experienced these two islands in such a way as to know the place and the people much more personally and meaningfully. I am certain the same will be said for our experience in Jamaica in a few days time. 

In my short recounting of the events and experiences of Class C234 I have purposely avoided referring to individual students or crew.  To say the least, this group of students is an incredibly diverse, enthusiastic, hardworking, and sassy cast of characters.  It has unquestionably been a fun ride, and I am happy to call them all my shipmates.  For each of them, this experience will be unique and there is no way I could begin to capture their stories accurately; and luckily there is no need.  Through this web blog you will have heard from all of the students (and some of the crew), in their own words.  There you will find their personal stories and learn what this experience has meant to them.  Thanks for coming along and sharing this ride with us, and please stay tuned, for this adventure is far from over! 

Cheers,

Jeff Chief Scientist and Oceanography professor

Image attached:  C234_17Apr11

Apr

18

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Saturday, April 16, 2011
20° 16.5’N
070° 44.0’W
Course: 300°
Wind: NExE, Force 4

Image caption:  Ashley our celestial goddess passes on her gift to Becca “Sassy” Samley. 

It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon here on board the Corwith Cramer, although the particular day of the week means little here at sea. Three days after departing Samana, the crew of the Corwith Cramer has settled back into the round-the-clock routines of shipboard life : standing watch, setting and striking sails, deploying science gear, preparing meals, attending classes and sleeping. It’s a busy schedule, but starkly different from that of life in port, and the transition back to life at sea has been made easy by the gorgeous weather. As Ellie said in class this morning, you lose track of the days out here.

This afternoon the Corwith Cramer is running westward with the wind, approximately 25 nautical miles north of the city of Puerto Plata on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. All our square sails are set, no doubt providing a dramatic sight for the recreational yachts that have occasionally crossed our path as they head north toward the Bahamas from the Dominican Republic. Last night, Kaitlin, serving as JWO shadow, worked with Chief Mate Rachel to plot one such yacht on the radar as it crossed a couple miles ahead of our bow in the dark.

The gentle breezes have kept us moving nicely while also keeping the seas to a minimum, making life easy on the galley. Mari, our assistant steward for the day, took full advantage of the opportunity, working with our steward Maggie to produce amazing Italian sausage sandwiches for lunch, and chocolate chip cookies for the afternoon snack.

The clear skies have also been an aid to celestial navigation. Both students and crew have lined the railings at sunset and sunrise to catch sight of the stars above the horizon and fix our position. Determining our latitude at noon with a sextant is a celestial assignment that each student will have accomplished by the time we reach Port Antonio in Jamaica later this week. While our arrival there is much anticipated, we’ll be sorry to say goodbye to our Jamaican science observer Renee, who recovered from her initial bout of seasickness and has become a highly valued member of the crew. From teaching the students the rules of cricket to class discussions on tourist culture, her local perspectives have contributed a lot along with her eagerness to jump in and help wherever needed.

—- Carl [Maritime Studies]

Image attached:  C234_16Apr11

Apr

15

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Thursday April 14th 2011
19º 10.6’ N x 069º 18.4’ W
Heading:  150º
Speed: 5.5 Knots
Weather: Beaufort force 3, cloud cover 7/8, air temperature 30º C

Photo caption: View of a waterfall just outside Samaná, many of the students took tours here on their days off with our Dominican friend Martin.

Hola chicos!! This is Mari and Chris keeping you updated from just outside of Samaná. We had an amazing time on our day off yesterday for Port Watch! A few of us took the morning to relax, while others went to see a waterfall. Then we all met in town and went to local shops and markets. Later on, we went to the beach, where we had a great time playing games with local children! We ended the night with delicious typical dinner and topped it off by dancing at the local Salsa club. Then it was back to the Cramer, where a goodnight’s sleep was needed for the following day.

Today has been a long and tiring day getting the Cramer ready for sea. The day started off early with Field Day where we played music, and gave the ship a thorough cleaning after a dirty 5 days at port. We also broke down (disassembled) our small boat (the station wagon), and completed an intensive deck wash. After that it was time to take off. We were forced to motor out of Samaná Bay due the Easterly Trade winds that were blowing into our faces, however once we hit the Atlantic we set our sails and were on our way. Though before getting too far, we deployed a gravity core to collect data for Ellie and Nalyse’s OC project.

We had our first all-hands class in the past five days, where we reflected upon our experiences on shore, and our interactions with the local community and our cultural perceptions. We also were able to take this time to welcome our Maritime Studies professor, Carl, and our Jamaican Observer, Renée! We are really happy and excited to have them join the crew, but we definitely miss Matt and Joy. We miss you guys!! 

As we start the second leg of the voyage, we also begin to take on more responsibilities around ship duties. We rotated Mates and Scientists, and will each individually have the opportunity to “shadow” them on our Watches to help better prepare ourselves for the Junior Watch Officer (JWO) Phase..

As our day is coming to an end, those who are not on Watch are starting to settle down and relax after a hard day’s work, not to mention super hot! But a great benefit to the evening was DINNER! The fabulous Maggie Lyon prepared barbecue ribs, roasted potatoes, corn, and coleslaw which, to say the least, was extraordinary.

Everyone on board is excited to be back at sea, and we are all looking forward to another week of sailing, and our next port stop in Port Antonio, Jamaica.

This is Mari! I want to say hi to my parents and my brother Juaksss, I miss you so much! I can’t wait to see you in a couple weeks, but know that everything is going great! To my friends I miss you guys too and we’ll meet up pretty soon, although I’m sure most of you are in Cali having a blast right now, can’t wait for the stories! Sistaaa mas te vale que estes leyendo esto! Te extrano demasiado y espero que me estes actualizando de todo aunque no recibas respuesta jaja. Los amo demasiado y ya no vemos pronto! Un besito para todos!!!! Chauuuuuu

Hey guys, just wanna let you all know that everything is goin great down here. Our port stop in Samaná was awesome, and life on the Cramer is incredible to say the least. To my folks and family, I miss you all and can’t wait to see you guys and share all the stories. To my friends, I hope you guys aren’t having too much fun without me and I can’t wait for this summer. Take it easy and I’ll see you all a lot sooner than you think
-Chris

Image attached:  C234_14Apr11

Apr

13

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12 April 2011
Heading/Speed: At Anchor
Weather: Beaufort force 1 and a little cloudy at 2000.

Photo Caption: A baby rhinocerous iguana chilling out with the gang in Samana.

Hello friends! Kelly and Liz here, reporting on our long but awesome day. We started out bright and early (as always) by taking the rescue boat and the station wagon, our two inflatable boats, to the dock. There, we met a safari-style truck with our guide Victor who showed us the way into the interior of Samana. We had to get a little close, but in the end we all fit and we began to make our way to the first stop, a small plantation. Here Victor showed us how bananas, plantains, pineapple, mangos, and many other delicious items are grown. Samana is in the middle of a four month drought, and it showed in the form of drooping banana leaves. Nonetheless, it was still beautiful and quite informative. We finished our tour of the plantation with a treat! Victor handed out some sugar cane to us all, which was a new taste for many. Sugarcane is too woody to actually eat, but by chewing on it the juice is released. It tastes a little like sweet raw corn..but with ten times the sugar (duh). Kelly says she was reminded of a Vietnamese restaurant in her hometown, Seattle, where they provide sugarcane as a desert.

Next up were the iguanas! We visited ‘El Iguanario de Los Tocones,’ an iguana sanctuary that focuses on educating visitors about the rhinoceros iguana, a species native to Hispaniola that is in danger of becoming extinct. They are breeding iguanas in hopes of being able to release them back into their native habitat in order to establish a strong wild population. Los Laicos, a local environmental group composed of young people, is the backbone of this organization. We received a tour from Richard, a high school aged boy from the program who was obviously passionate about helping these animals.

At this point in time, the roads really began to get rocky. Literally. Our safari truck bounced and occasionally sputtered up the mountainous unpaved red dirt roads that connect village to village. The road eventually led us to another farm, this one for ginger. The farm is part of the newly established Ginger Trail, a local effort to promote ecotourism in Samana that revolves around the production of organically grown ginger. We tasted candied ginger and learned about how it is grown on the island. The Ginger Trail has also begun to help local people make one room additions to their houses where visitors to the area can stay for an inexpensive and authentic Dominican experience. Later, the group treated us to a traditional Caribbean style lunch of rice and soup made with beef, chicken, plantains, potatoes, and many other vegetables. We finished it off with a dessert of creamed sweet potato with sugar, raisins, and of course, GINGER! It was not as weird as it sounds, believe us. Our final entertainment was being able to view and participate in a demonstration of traditional Afro-Caribbean music and dance, put on by Los Laicos.

We ended our day by trying to give something back to the community that had given us so much today. Our group organized a beach cleanup with the help of Los Laicos, and we filled seven black, jumbo-sized garbage bags with predominately plastic waste. To cool off afterwards, we picked our way through some sand spurs (ouch!) to make our way to the gorgeous blue water. The water was crystal clear, and the bottom was soft white sand, typical of these islands but still a big change from New England. Happy and tired, we bounced our way back down the mountain to our home the Cramer. Sleep well all of our readers, I know we will.

I know it’s not until next week, but, Happy Birthday Nate!!  To all of my friends and/or family members who might be reading this, I miss you and love you all very much.  Xoxo, Kelly Hey family, I know you’re all reading this. It’s been a great.however many weeks it’s been. I can’t really remember. It’s really busy here, what with watch, cleaning, project work, sleeping, and eating (in respective order of importance.) But the Cramer is a great place to be, and the people here are pretty much the bomb. I’m looking forward to our watches day off tomorrow. I plan on making some phone calls (!) and then doing absolutely nothing on the beach while sipping something out of a coconut. I love you all, and hope all’s well. Say hi to Mr. Malik squeak for me! And to Jon, if you’re reading this, I miss you a ton. Having an international phone plan would have made all this jazz a lot easier…derp. Love you babe. Fair winds, Liz.

This is Kelly and Liz signing off!

Image attached:  C234_12Apr11

Apr

11

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09 April 2011
At anchor, Samaná, Dominican Republic.

Image caption:  “I hear whales!”  Lucy cherishes here moment on the hydrophone.

Greetings from the Dominican Republic! Cramer sailed into the bay through the morning, passing high mountains covered with palm trees and brush. About ten miles wide north to south, the bay runs beyond the horizon to westward, with only island effect clouds suggesting its terminus. With course, tops’l, stays’ls, and main flying, we cut a nice figure for the cruise ship anchored off Cayo Levantado. Earlier in the day, we successfully deployed the gravity corer, and ran a final hydrophone station (but no whales were to be heard). Once that work was done, though, it was time to head to our port call, and by 1300, we had sailed to anchor in front of this busy town.

This is a bittersweet entry for me, as I leave the ship tomorrow to return to the University of Connecticut and to my family. Over the past ten days, the students and crew have gelled into a single family, and I am saddened to be breaking away. I take with me, however, tremendous respect for Cramer’s students and professional mariners, new insights into modern culture and seafaring’s challenges, and a better understanding of how to integrate the science, practice, history, and literature of life at sea.

In the Maori language, the term waka refers to both an ocean going canoe and a family clan (which makes sense given the history of Polynesian voyaging). I have thought of that term often on this trip, for indeed, Cramer is a happy waka, in all senses of the term. That feeling, more so than the intellectual, pedagogical, and operational insights I have gained while at sea, makes tomorrow a sad day. But as I have learned, shipmates are shipmates, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve worked together. Fair winds and safe voyages, C-234: thank you, stay in touch, and come home safe from sea.

And don’t forget that on shore, a red light doesn’t mean port anymore: it means stop. Remember your traffic rules.

Matthew McKenzie
University of Connecticut
Visiting Maritime Studies Faculty

Joy Stanistreet here, visiting scientist from NOAA Fisheries in Woods Hole, MA. I have had the great fortune to participate in this first leg of the C-234 voyage. My research focuses on the acoustic behavior of marine mammals, and my goal on this trip was to record humpback whale song down here in the Caribbean. As it is late in the breeding season and many whales have already begun migrating north to their summer feeding grounds, I wasn’t sure how much luck we would have. But I was happily surprised by the awesome chorus of humpback whale song that we heard and recorded the other night on Navidad Bank. I was thrilled to hear the whales, but I found it even more exciting to share this experience with the students and crew, since it was a first for many of them. I enjoyed watching each person’s face as they put on the headphones we were passing around, frowned in concentration for a moment, then suddenly lit up: “I hear it! I can hear them!.” Although we had only a brief whale sighting earlier that day, listening to their song added a whole new dimension to the experience, and seemed to impart a sense of wonder to many who heard it.

I’ve also enjoyed learning the ropes (literally, as well as metaphorically) along with the students during these first two weeks at sea; lots of great new experiences for everyone. As we sailed into Samana Bay today, I climbed aloft and enjoyed the beautiful view from the top of the foremast. Surrounded by blue sky and blue water, my thoughts then were echoed by many of the students throughout the day, “I can’t believe that this is my life!” As I prepare to depart Cramer here in the Dominican Republic in just a few days and head back to Woods Hole (where I can only hope that spring has finally arrived) I second Matt’s sentiments. Many thanks to the students, staff, and crew of C-234 for welcoming me into the Cramer family; I feel truly lucky to have had this experience. I am reluctant to say goodbye, but glad that I can at least leave you all with some whale song to take home on your iPods! Happy sailing.

Image attached:  C234_09Apr11

Apr

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10 April 2011
At anchor, Samaná, Dominican Republic.

Image caption: The SSV Corwith Cramer safely at anchor near Samana, Dominican Republic.

Hello Friends!  We are ending our first day in Samana.  Cramer is at anchor in sight of town, a ten minute boat ride away.  The crew is split into three groups today- work, day off and reef research.  Students took advantage of many of the opportunities in and around Samana from spending the day at the beach, visiting the waterfalls and sampling the local cuisine.  Aboard people were hard at work maintaining and improving Cramer while others worked on their research projects, or assembling data for their shipmates projects.  It is now 9:30pm [2130] and the entire crew is back and settling in for a quiet night of rest before an active day of field trips, shipboard work and lab work tomorrow. Fairwinds-  Rick [engineer- C-234]

Apr

11

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April 8, 2011
1930
Lat: 19º 32.9’ N
Long: 068º 59.5’ W
Heading: 148º True
Sailing south of Navidad Bank under the four lowers
Speed 4.6 knots
Wind: ENE BF 3 (14kts)
Weather: Very sunny, a few cumulus clouds in the distance, 26.7°c

Photo caption: A Watch goes aloft for the first time. It was vertigo-tastic!

This is Ben and Nalyse of A Watch reporting from the Corwith Cramer.  This was an exciting day for many reasons.  This morning we caught our first glimpse of the beautiful island of Hispaniola far in the distance.  Although we could’ve made it straight to our first port stop today, we are buying time for the sake of science and our first Field Day.  During Field Day we, the soldiers of the Cramer, battled the evil army of Mung, also known as nasty filth that hides in crevices and needs to be eradicated once a week. It was a tough fight but also fun because we blasted music, ate chocolate and kept a good attitude while working together to conquer the Mung quickly and efficiently. 

Late last night, as we were sailing over Navidad Bank, we were fortunate enough to pick up a symphony of whales on the hydrophone.  Joy, our whale expert, put the whales on speaker as we all gathered around the quarter deck and listened to an array of mating calls so diverse they could only have been made by humpback whales.  Joy was joyous as this was one of her last full days with us, and hence one of her last chances to hear these melodic creatures.  She told us that this was the most distinct recording that she’s ever heard in real time.  Unfortunately, most of our time sailing over Navidad Bank was at night so we did not get to see the multitude of whales, but their songs were more than enough.

We have certainly enjoyed our time on the Cramer thus far, getting to know the anatomy of the boat and how she runs in intimate detail, but we are really excited to finally walk on stable land and experience the culture of the Dominican Republic. 

Hi Mommy and who ever else reads this blog!  Just letting you know that all is well.  I’m having a great time, and will be in the DR tomorrow, hopefully with access to phone and net.  See me in the pictures?  Love you very much.  Spread this to Grandma, auntie, kia, the kids and everyone else. Love Lysie

I would like to send my love to my Mom, Beth, Jasmine and Raja. I hope the new house is treating you well and that UK did well in the championship. I’d like to give a shout out too to my Dad, Les, Ella and Kai. I hope you are continuing to have awesome experiences and that I get to see you all soon. -Ben

Image attached:  C234_08Apr11

Apr

08

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07 April 2011
1832
Lat: 20º 02.02’ N
Long: 068º 46.02’ W
Heading: 281º True
Sailing on Navidad Bank under all squares (course, tops’l, raffee)
Speed 4 knots
Wind: E/ENE BF 2/3 (14kts)
Weather: Mostly sunny, light cumulus clouds, 27°c (better then New England)

Photo Caption- Lucas, Kaitlin and Zoe on the bowsprit furling the jib tops’l over the Sargasso Sea.

Salutations from the Corwith Cramer here in the Sargasso Sea. This is Kaitlin Tebeau and Lucas Meyer, also known as “the lightening and thunder of B Watch.” Presently, we are crossing the geographic boundary of Navidad Bank. Like a scene in a Hollywood movie, as soon as we crossed this boundary, the here to for elusive humpback whale breached dramatic fashion off our port bow. Lucas, upon sighting said whale breach, screamed and jumped with glee to inform the rest of our ship and resident NOAA scientist, Joy. Another exciting feature of Navidad Bank is the extreme sea floor rise from a depth of 4000m to 30m - Quite the geological spectacle.

Our first watch of the day took place from 0700-1300. After another lovely early breakfast of blueberry muffins and yogurt, B watch spilt into our respective watch stations for the morning and off we went. Kaitlin spent her watch busy as a bee in the galley washing dishes and aiding our heavenly steward Maggie. We take this moment to reassure any concerned parties, we are being fed well, very, very well. Our science team for this watch consisted of Kate and Zoe who collected data for various student projects, while Lucas, Cara and Rebecca manned the deck. Above and beyond all of our tasks this morning, we also had a Maritime History class with our most excellent professor Matt McKenzie, in which we read and discussed the social and political ramifications of West Indian migration as portrayed in John Agard’s poem “Hey Mr. Oxford Don.” Class was slightly disrupted by the appearance on the horizon of the self-proclaimed “largest barge in the world”, a 736ft triple decker Roro barge.

Later in the day the deck was full of intensity and hustle as B watch displayed their formidable sail handling ability. As the emergency sail handling watch, it is our duty to be able to manipulate our sail plan in an expedient fashion. This afternoon, B watch really touted their skills by winning the “line chase” during afternoon classes. This was a relay between all three watches to identify all the lines onboard, and we are please to report that the entire ship did exceptionally well, but B watch handily won. As we roll into the evening hour with an unspeakably beautiful sunset, Kaitlin is looking forward to enjoying the night sky while she orders Lucas to shoot some navigational stars to pinpoint our location.

Nothing but good times and strong trade winds here on the Cramer. 

Kaitlin here, just wanting to send love to all my family and friends back in the States.  Cassidy, give Captain Chubs and Bay a big hug for me, and I can’t wait to tell you all salty stories of life at sea!  Hope you’re all doing well, life here couldn’t be much better.

Big “hi-ya” to my family and friends where ever you may be. I am thoroughly enjoying my time out at sea and miss you all dearly. I’ve really caught on quickly to life on the Cramer and have begun the learning process on a couple of nautical extracurricular activities per-se. We are just about two days away from Samana Bay, so expect to hear more from me then! Mother, don’t be too strict with Barley and leave plenty of yard work for me. Pops, my mustache will make you proud when I return.
Hope you all are doing well, because I couldn’t be doing better. Much Love.
-Lucas

Image attached:  C234_07Apr11

Apr

07

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Photo Caption: “Sassy displaying her dish of the day: Sargassum seaweed. Yum!”

06 April 2011
1723
Lat: 21º 00.7’ N
Long: 067 º 44.2’ W
Heading: 200 º PSC
Sailing toward Navidad Bank under all fore and aft sails
Speed 4.5 knots
Wind: SExE BF 3
Getting fat off of Maggie’s cooking 24/7

Day 6 at sea!  Ellie and “Sassy” Samley reporting from C Watch.  We had another rocky night on the Cramer with some more force 5 winds and 6 foot waves, but it opened up into a beautiful day with clear skies and smooth sailing, so we can’t complain.  We were on the 1900-2300 watch last night and have been seeing some beautiful stars and bioluminescence on the water.  Becca steered the ship without any navigation equipment for a while, without crashing into anything so it was a success.  C watch (the watch of champions) was the first watch to complete both the deck and science checklists and learn all the lines.  This means that we get to pick the music for the first field day on Friday and we can now go aloft! 

This morning, C watch did the first carousel deployment.  The carousel is a large piece of science equipment that can collect water samples at various depths and we sent it out to 600 meters.  This will give valuable data for Cara and Brianna’s research.  Also this morning, Becca hunted down some Sargassum samples using the dip net, and it was delicious. We also learned how to use a Secchi Disk today which measures the amount of visible light in the water.  We all tried to guess the depth at which the Secchi disk would disappear, and our 1st mate Rachel won the candy bar with a guess of 34 meters. 

Today, the students gybed for the first time on their own without assistance from the crew.  We continued using dead reckoning to plot our position instead of relying on the GPS.  Today, Lucy shot the sun at LAN (local apparent noon) and was able to plot our accurate location.  This was very exciting as we are all turning into expert sailors. 

Hello to all my family and friends!  I miss you all!!  I hope the weather in Boston has been getting better.  After a couple rough days battling seasickness, I am now loving life on board the Corwith Cramer!  I have been seeing lots of birds and flying fish, which is awesome and hopefully I will get to see some whales when we get to Navidad Bank tomorrow.  I love you guys and I can’t wait to tell you all about my adventures at sea when I get home.  P.S. Hannah, please give the dogs big hugs from me and Kathy, say hi to all my favorite horses!
-Becca

This is a shout out to the Howser/Brown clan.  Despite your lack of faith in my abilities, I have managed not to go overboard in my first week at sea!  I harness up every chance I get, but I unfortunately had to tell the rest of the crew about my first experience overboard.  Since my watch finished our checklist, we will be going aloft soon which I am stoked for! I am loving life at sea and doing my best to keep my shipmates smiling.
-Ellie

Image attached:  C234_06Apr11

Apr

06

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5 April, 2011
1701
Lat: 21°00.0’N
Long:  066°03.0’W
Course Ordered: 325
Course Steered: 325
Sail Plan: Mains’l, mainstays’l, course, tops’l
Speed: 5 knots
Weather: ExS wind force 4. Sea state: ExS current, 6 foot swells
Sailing north into the Sargasso Sea, directly north of the windward passage, 2 days from Navidad Bank

Photo Caption: Nalyse practices shooting the sun with a sextant during today’s class. She’s also modeling our class t-shirt, designed by the one and only Liz Schneider.

Day 5 at sea, Katie and Brianna from A-watch reporting today! We finally (for the most part) have gotten used to sway and roll of Mother Cramer on the water. This was especially tested last night when we experienced our most tumultuous sea conditions so far. We experienced 6 foot swells and force 5 winds and our understanding of leeward and windward sides of the boat was truly put to the test. If we didn’t know before we know now! Despite these conditions, life went on as usual through watch. We’re learning that every action has a reaction on the boat and in this weather it’s so important for everything to be secure and in its rightful place.. It helps us sleep at night knowing we can depend on our shipmates and crew to do their jobs to keep us safe. Even so, there’s something to be said about how peaceful night watch can be in the right conditions. It’s nice and cool so there are no worries about sunburn, bioluminescence almost inexplicably glows in the water, and it’s incredible to have this chance to see the smattering of stars that we do on a regular basis.

A-watch was up for morning watch (0700-1300). We were pretty busy today doing a lot of sail handling and getting a lot of science accomplished. Some highlights of the day include Katie hunting for Sargassum using the dip net, Ben shooting the sun with a sextant with the celestial goddess Ashley Meyer, Mariana deployed the CTD to a depth of over 1000m in an effort to find the Antarctic Intermediate water mass, Chris was in the galley doing dishes for assistant steward Ian like a pro, and Brianna and Nalyse took turns doing boat checks and weather logs and enjoying life on deck. To add excitement to our day at approximately 1415 we did a fire drill. Everyone on board did a great job hustling to their positions and it was a true learning experience. Every day we have daily science and weather reports along with zooplankton presentations. For today’s presentations we sat audience to a new rendition of Little Red Riding Hood done by Kaitlin and Becca with the copepod playing little red and the amphipod playing the big bad wolf. These creative skits aid us in remembering how to identify zooplankton in the lab. Going with the theme of exciting night and day, today was crew member Juliet’s birthday which was accompanied by rainbow cupcakes for afternoon snack! Our steward (cook) Maggie Lyons is a true culinary godsend and we can’t say enough awesome things about her and our food. We will miss her when this trip is over as we’ve been eating like kings and queens!

Good day to my friends and family on land! For the past few days now the reality of my dreams at sea have been setting in. With each watch I have discovered something unique to enjoy, particularly, the sunrises and sunsets that have added stability to my concept of time as I have been getting used to the boat’s watch schedule. My shipmates and I are extremely lucky to be on board with this crew and we are learning an incredible amount each day! I hope all is well at home and that the mountains are treating my Colorado classmates well! Much love!
-Katie

Hello and I miss you to all of my friends and family. This experience so far has been super intense but I’m enjoying it and soaking it all in all the same. I’m getting rapidly tan with a few harness tan lines that can’t be helped, but oh well! And as it turns out- I am prone to sea sickness. It hit me a little late our first two days then went away but resurfaced after last night’s crazy weather. I’ll get over it soon though and be back on top of the world. I wish you guys were here to experience the amazing parts of this journey, but please know you’re here in my thoughts and heart at all times. To Mike- I love you and miss you so much, and please, for goodness sake, when you plan our vacation at the end of this trip can it please involve somewhere to get massages.

-Brianna

Apr

05

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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Monday, April 4th, 2011
19º 29.1’ N x 065º 13.9’W
Heading: 000 True
Speed: 5.5 knots
Wind / Sea conditions:  Beaufort Force 4 (11-16 knots), cloud coverage 1/8th
cumulus clouds, air temperature 29ºC

Picture Caption: Our Engineer, Rick, wins the prize (courtesy of Mari and Katie) for having the closest guess to the greatest depth recorded while we were passing the Puerto Rico Trench this morning.

Cara and Zoe here to relay the first student account of the Corwith Cramer and C-234 adventure! Our fourth day at sea, and we are all already starting to fall into the new routine of being shipmates rather than classmates. At first the structure of life at sea was difficult to get used to; reporting for watches at 0300, taking “navy” showers, and learning the ins and outs of the ship. However, now we can gybe and sleep at all hours of the day, and we are slowly learning to embrace the lack of showering.

We are on B Watch with Jeremy Dann as our mate and Juliet Alla as our scientist. This morning, we started watch at 0700. Day watches are generally busy and exciting, and today ours was no exception. The deck team, Lucas, Kaitlin, and Zoe, struck the Jib and then went out to the bowsprit to furl the sail. After quite a few renditions of “up, aft, and down” the Jib was successfully furled. Later in the watch, the deck heaved to for science! The science team, Cara and Kate, was crazy busy today. They completed the first hydrocast deployment of the trip down to a maximum depth of 625 meters. This deployment will be extremely helpful for Brianna and Cara’s oceanography research project on water masses in the Caribbean. Science also completed a neuston net tow for plankton and plastics, which will be useful to several research projects. Also, Joy Stanistreet, Princess of Whales, deployed her hydrophone during our watch in an attempt to hear whale songs. She was successful as well, and heard faint whale sounds, however too far away to identify the type of whale singing. In addition, our final watch-mate, Rebecca, was busy helping our steward Maggie Lyons and her assistant for the day, Brianna, with work down in the galley.  B Watch had a ton of work this morning, but working as the coolest team ever, we got it done. We ended our watch at 1300 with a short get together and discussion of our watch, and closed out with our newly formed cheer, “B-E-A-utiful!”

This is Zoe here. I just wanted to shout out to my mom and dad, family and friends and let you all know I am doing well. I am tired, but definitely starting to get used to the ship routine. I have seen some beautiful vistas and am learning so much about the ship and science equipment around me. I hope you all are doing great!

Hello world, Cara here! Wanted to say a big hello to family and friends. I have definitely been enjoying my time sailing as part of C-234, with only a bit of difficulty adjusting at first. As of right now, I am proudly collecting bruises and (very carefully) freckles, with hopefully more of the latter and less of the former in the weeks to come. Hope all is well!

Apr

04

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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3 April 2011
0822
18° 23.9’N
064° 16.1’W
Hove to under mains’l and stays’ls in E’ly wind, force 3, under clear skies, 8nm SE of Virgin Gorda, BVI.

Image caption:  3rd scientist Dave Murphy along with Brianna and Nalyse retrieve the neuston net, hoping to find fish, lobster, and eel larvae in our bucket. 

As I begin this blog, C watch is on deck in the midst of a CTD deployment down to 600 meters, B watch is doing dawn cleanup, and most of A watch is still soundly asleep after standing the 2300 to 0300 Mid-watch last night. The ship’s routines are firmly in place and the last strains of seasickness are fading into the past.

Mid-watch is my favorite watch, and last night’s was especially great. As we came on deck, the engine was running to make ground to windward toward Barracuda Bank (just SE of the British Virgin Islands).  As sailors, we always hope to get there under sail alone, but the easterly winds here were making that hard.  And it was a beautiful night.  The southern cross was clearly visible in the sky and we watched Scorpio rise well above the horizon.  Plus, midnight snack was seven-layer bars, my absolute favorite. At midnight, as this third day underway rolled around, it seemed that we had been together much longer.  Nalyse and Ben were off on a boat check and making sure everything was okay in the engine room, Chris was on lookout at the bow, diligently reporting the many small cargo vessels, and Mari was on the helm, steering the Cramer like an old pro.  In the lab, Katie and Brianna were learning about the meter net tow we would perform later.  On all the watches, these new crew members are quickly mastering the ways of Cramer.

At 0200, we made it to the NW corner of Barracuda Bank, set the Jib, and turned the engine off.  In the relative quiet, we adjusted sail to make 2 knots and prepped to put our large meter net and 200 meters of wire into the water.  The deployment went flawlessly.  Even when you have done this before, a watch like that doesn’t go by unnoticed.

From the Corwith Cramer, this is chief mate Rachel Greenough, here to let you know that things don’t get much better than this.

Image attached:  C234_03Apr11

Apr

03

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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2 April 2011
1740 (2240 GMT)
18° 06.7’N
064° 37.6’W
Course ordered 010°, steered 010°
Sailing under single-reefed main, main and fore stays’ls, jib, jib tops’l, fisherman stays’l.
Making 2 knots, under light winds and mostly clear skies, clawing eastward toward Barracuda Bank against the trade winds (though light), and the prevailing easterly current.

Image Caption: “Learning by Doing: The Watch’s First Trip into the Head-Rig.”

C-234 had its first day or normal shipboard life, and even with the new environment, odd sleep schedule, and steep learning curve, all are happy and jumping to what needs to get done with excitement and energy. Last night, in first their watch of the trip, A-watch struck the fisherman’s stays’l by the light of a thin moon smoothly and effectively. During the morning, the on-watch took to the head-rig for the first time to set the jib and jib-tops’l, after which they mustered at the mainmast and discussed Jamaican poet Louise Bennett-Coverly’s 1966 work, “Colonisation in Reverse.” During the morning science station, we deployed the neuston net to collect specimens for student projects, which brought in three Halobates (much to Chief Engineer Rick Hamilton’s delight) among other animals. NOAA scientist Joy Stanistreet also took the opportunity to test her hydrophone, which she will use to record whale songs as we near Navidad Bank in a few days.

The afternoon saw gibing drills and a group of people going through the process of figuring how to work well together. All in all, students are settling into ship life, getting more familiar with engineering spaces, the galley, the lab, and the deck. That amount of work has many getting familiar with their bunks, too. Just before dinner, though, a few more members of Cramer’s crew have books out today than did yesterday.

Matthew McKenzie
University of Connecticut
Visiting Maritime Studies Instructor

Image attached:  C234_02Apr11

Apr

03

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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Friday 01 April 2011
1645
18° 00’N x 064° 43’W, north of St. Croix
Course ordered - 060° psc (per ships compass)
Making 3 knots with all fore and aft sails flying (Mains’l, main stays’l, fore stays’l, jib, JT and the Fisherman)
Winds BF 3 (Beaufort Force 3) from ESE (east south east) with clear skies

Figure caption:  Mari, Zoe, and Liz (with some help) set the first sail for C234!

What do all of those numbers and abbreviations mean?  Well, basically we are sailing and absolutely loving it!  Class C234 has cast off the dock lines and is heading out to sea.  Let the fun, adventure, and learning begin! 

This is Chief Scientist Jeff Schell reporting to you from the Caribbean. Our morning began with an 0530, “covert” science mission to a nearby beach to collect samples for Ian, Chris and Becca.  A hearty breakfast of fruit, scrambled eggs, potatoes and sausage greeted the science team upon their return.  The remainder of the morning was dedicated to safety training and a thorough discussion and demonstration of our emergency station responsibilities.  Once completed it was time to prepare the Cramer for departure.  The students did a wonderful job handling dock lines, roving fenders, and Kaitlin even joined Maia our 1st assistant scientist in the small boat to help get Cramer off the dock in strong winds.  Even before we cleared the channel Captain Beth called for sails to be set.  It was a sight to see, every student eager to get their hands on a line and flex their muscles after spending so many weeks onshore working their brains. “How can I help”,“What can I do”, “When should I haul this line” were just a few of the many questions being asked.  Not a single hand was idle, and a few hours later, we find ourselves making good toward our first destination, Barracuda Bank.  This is what the student’s and the entire professional crew have been dreaming about for days, weeks, months and it is finally here:  Sailing Science and the Ships community, here in the Caribbean.  I can think of nothing better to be doing with my time. 

In the days to come look forward to hearing directly from the students andthe crew, they will be your guide in this adventure that is Class C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean. 

Image attached:  C234_01Apr11

Apr

01

C234 Documenting Change in the Caribbean

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Thursday, 31 March, 2011
17°45.0’N x 064°42.0’W
Dockside Gallows Bay, in Christiansted, St. Croix
Image Caption:  Class C234 visits the Whim plantation.

It’s a joyous afternoon here aboard our good ship, Corwith Cramer.
All ship’s company have joined the vessel, which is dockside this first evening of “Documenting Change in the Caribbean” in Christiansted, St. Croix.  You can feel the happiness throughout the ship, although we’re itching to get underway and begin our life at sea.  We’ll get in some necessary training this evening, cast off dock lines sometime late tomorrow morning and then make our way initially to the east, towards Saba Bank.

Check us out on today’s first afternoon field trip at the Whim Plantation, a restored sugar and rum estate and an UNESCO Slave Route Sites of Remembrance.

More to follow from our life at sea.
Until then, Out, from Captain Beth.