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Voyages

SSV Corwith Cramer Blog

Position information is updated on a workday basis only.

Mobile users, click here to open in the Google Earth App.

May

08

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Wednesday 08 May 2012
Position: 17° 44’ 48.00” N x 64° 41’ 57.60” W
Location: Alongside, Gallows Bay Marine Terminal, Christiansted, St. Croix

Photo Caption: Students and Crew of C-246 at voyage’s end in St. Croix

Corwith Cramer arrived in St. Croix this morning, only a few minutes behind schedule, and just in time for a final rinsing of tropical rain. I was preoccupied with docking the ship, and grabbed the nearest orange raincoat I could find. It looked just like mine, but whoever it belonged to was two sizes smaller. I put it on anyway.

Our arrival here marks the safe and happy conclusion of cruise C-246, after 38 days and more than three thousand miles of ocean sailing. Like many complex undertakings, voyages begin gradually and end rather abruptly, and as the gangway is rigged and bags are unloaded, it seems hard to believe that the ship no longer demands the collective energy of this group of 25 students and staff to navigate its future.

It has been a tremendous trip, with many moments of challenge, humor, and fulfillment written one at a time into this blog. Some of the students are planning a short stay ashore here before going on to their next adventure, and a few will be coming back for a day or two to volunteer help with the countless chores of “turnaround”, as the ship prepares to leave next week on a voyage that will end back in Woods Hole. There is a lot of food coming aboard, (parents will not find it hard to believe that hosting a shipful of college students puts a dent in the larder) as well as new staff, fuel, and long lists of items that few would realize that the ship just can’t do without. Sharpie markers. Sponges. Jumbo jars of Nutella, and rolls of startlingly expensive blue masking tape from the hardware store around the corner.

In the aft cabin, the focus has turned from the excitement of navigation and research under sail to the blander pursuit of logistics. When does the new engineer arrive? Do we need one water truck, or two? What happened to the rental car reservation? It’s a bit of a letdown, even amidst the great shared satisfaction of a big thing well done.

This post will be the last in the C-246 cruise blog, and I’ll use the last paragraph to express my thanks for all of the work contributed by students and staff to make it a success. As we wish one another farewell over the coming days, it will be with the sincere hope of a chance to sail again in the future.

Captain Elliot Rappaport
SSV Corwith Cramer

May

07

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Tuesday 07 May 2013
Position: 18° 10’ 24.00” N x 64° 47’ 57.60” W
Location: Anchored in Francis Bay, St John, US Virgin Islands

Image caption:  A well-deserved break from academics and ship’s work - a morning spent snorkeling and swimming on St. John.

Hello again from the SSV Corwith Cramer.  As our cruise draws to a close it is only natural to recount all that we have seen and done; to reflect upon the myriad experiences and take note of all that was learned; but where to begin, how to capture the entirety of this voyage in a single blog entry? 

This will certainly be a challenge faced by each student when they return home and are greeted by family and friends.“How was it, did you have fun, what did you see, do, and learn?”  A flood of questions will welcome them home, along with smiling faces and warm embraces.  What you are likely to receive in return will be a brief, courteous description that will likely involve the words, “wonderful, awesome, great,” or some similarly vague yet positive description.  And then there will be a pause and a realization that they are at a loss for words. 

As I am now, your son or daughter will struggle with their reply to such a seemingly simple question.  So I hope my caveat will help you understand how difficult it will be for them to describe such a truly unique experience.  To grapple with the sheer scale of a 6 week voyage at sea I often resort to using a metaphor to describe the experience.  Imagine a large bookcase loaded full of beautifully bound volumes, and each one tells the story of the cruise from a unique perspective.  Each autobiographical story will be rich with drama, mystery, comedy, history, and science.  The many stories encompassed in those pages are what make it so difficult to answer that seemingly reasonable and innocent question. “so how was the trip”?  I for one will attempt to do so by relaying just a few stories that may help illustrate a few memorable things about our cruise through the Caribbean and this class in particular.  However, since my chief concern aboard the ship has been the success of our scientific mission do not be surprised if the stories I pull down from the shelf are of a particular genre. 

By all accounts the scientific mission of our voyage was a success.  We conducted 59 discrete oceanographic stations which amounted to 172 different pieces of scientific gear being deployed and retrieved from the Cramer.  We made over 800 hourly observations of sea surface conditions (temperature, salinity, etc) and visible marine fauna (seabirds, dolphins, etc).  Just over 32400m of hydrowire was used to plumb the ocean depths for mysteries untold.  There were neuston tows, meter nets, McLane pumps, carousels, Tucker Trawls, phytonets, CTDs, secchi discs, shipek grabs, dip nets, and even some styrofoam cups thrown in for good measure.  The lab was always busy with students on the scopes identifying critters, running chemical analyses, sorting the mixed contents of numerous buckets into meticulously labeled jars, sieving sediments and finally plotting their data as intricate graphs in the hopes of discovering pattern amidst the chaos of information.

The accumulation of all this data by itself is an accomplishment worth regaling, yet more important is how each student leveraged this data to answer their specific research questions.  And herein lays the true success of our cruise from my humble perspective.  There is not enough room in this blog to detail each student’s scientific discoveries, but suffice it to say, they each taught me something new about this beautiful ocean of ours.  And for that I have thanked them time and again. 

But enough of all this academic stuff; what is truly important goes way beyond the grades, course syllabi, and credits.  Bear with me as I take off my scientist hat (sail cloth and siene twine), set down my dip net (my favorite piece of science gear), and speak to you as a fellow shipmate. This has been a truly remarkable group of students that has become a very cohesive crew.  Individually they each made personal sacrifices to place the ship and their shipmates before themselves and have lived to see the value in this.  These salty sailor-scientists now return home transformed - they have been shaped by the power and beauty of the sea, the sturdy ship that carried them on this grand voyage, and their shipmates that kept them safe each gybe along the way.  There is no turning back now. 

It has truly been a pleasure to sail with this crew aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer. 

Cheers
Jeffrey M. Schell
Chief Scientist
Associate Professor of Oceanography

May

05

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Sunday 05 May 2013
Position: 18° 02’ 50.40” N x 64° 10’ 55.20” W
Location: Back in U.S. territory, and almost to St. John

Image Caption: Dolphins under the port bow! 

Ahoy mateys! Here we are in our final days aboard the Corwith Cramer. It’s hard to believe that we have less than 3 days left on this ship and only a few more watches of sailing, as we will be anchored in St. John by tomorrow morning. Over the past 24 hours, many exciting moments have happened. Last night/this morning many of us saw the most crazy lightning show that any of us have ever experienced. It would light up the entire sky in one giant flash and sometimes we could see well-defined lightning forks. This lighting show lasted nearly 10 hours, as every watch got to experience the majestic forces of nature. On the non-majestic side, this storm involved A and B watch striking the mains’l in the middle of the night. Let’s just say we’ve become very efficient furlers. However, coming up on deck this morning, it was back to clear skies and a beautiful day was in the making. Some excitement this morning including a pod of 5 dolphins where one dolphin jumped out of the water and did a flip! It was a lovely sight, indeed.

Today students are busy busy busy as our scientific research papers are due at 2359 (11:59) tonight. There are no available computers on this ship, as students are completely immersed in their papers. It will be such a relief when these papers are turned in. Students are making plans to go aloft tomorrow to celebrate. Speaking of tomorrow, after anchoring in St. John and clearing customs, we will be having the rare all hands dinner to commemorate the end of the trip. After dinner, however, a joyous event will be held - it’s called Swizzle. Similar to a talent show, students will perform songs, skits, readings, and various other unknown talents. A sign-up sheet has already been posted and the slots are filling up. Becca, Kate, and I will be performing a song/skit to thank the deckhands for all their hard work. A skit will be performed to thank the galley trolls, as well. Some students have even recruited their peers for their own personal band. Young Vincent (Wincent) was volunteered by his classmates to be the MC of the event. I would say we are in for an interesting and entertaining night!

A rare sighting occurred today during morning watch. A squall line was visible of our starboard side and the captain spotted a water spout, which is basically a water tornado. This resulted in the immediate striking of the mains’l (the second striking in less than 12 hours). At least now we can all check off seeing a water spout on our bucket list. As I write this blog, B watch members are engaged in a “styrocast.” All members aboard the ship decorated Styrofoam cups and today they were deployed in deep waters where they were subjected to massive amounts of pressure. I have yet to see the results, but I hear the cups shrink immensely and are fun little souvenirs.

Although we have greatly enjoyed our time aboard the Corwith Cramer, many of us are excited to relax on the beaches of St. Croix and it’s crazy to believe that we will be there in less than 72 hours!

Hannah Stafford
Colorado College

P.S. Hello to my family, friends, and Trevor. Can’t wait to see you all in one week! I miss and love you all! Talk to you on Wednesday!

May

04

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Saturday 4 May 2013
Position: 17°46.1’N x 063°24.7’W
Heading: 300° True

Photo Caption: B watch striking the Jib, as we do

Today marks my first official day as class representative, an eternal title given to me by my shipmates. Saying that it was an honor doesn’’t do my sentiments much justice; however I could not be more ecstatic to represent my class and shipmates considering how wonderful this program has been to me. I hate to call it a ‘program’, simply because it’s so much more than that. I’ve learned a multitude of things about myself, but more importantly I’ve learned so many things from and about the people I’’ve been surrounded by day and night for the past 2 months. You don’‘t really get to know someone until you’’ve stood watch with them in the pouring rain, or get to wake them up at 0300 for watch in their sleepy stupor, or when you spend the day scrubbing rust off the hull of Cramer in our little boat, the ‘Station Wagon’. Everyone has a story, and finding the time to learn about everyone is pivotal in building the best of shipmates.

Although it seems like we’’ve all known each other for what seems like an eternity, I’‘ve spent twice as much time with my classmates compared to the ship’s crew.  Considering this, it was a rather interesting experience to see the crew on land, walking, talking, and doing land-things. I hope that we will all get to spend a bit of time together in St Croix when the program ends on May 8th, a date that is creeping up pretty quickly.

Our research papers, which have been on our minds daily for 2 months now are finally due tonight at midnight, which is exceptionally exciting and will allow us to fully indulge and enjoy our last days at sea, paper free. Perhaps it is time for all of us to catch up on land—after all, a lot can happen in 38 days.

Alex Cuadros
Broward College

P.S. I’d like to shout out to Victoria, I’m so excited to be a part of the SEA alumni coordinator club, and can’‘t wait to hear what kind of fun things I get to do once back on land. Also to my family: Talk to you guys real
soon!!

P.P.S. From the whole gang: We can’’t believe the Robert C. Seamans has ended their program, but we’re all so excited for you guys! Enjoy your time in Hawaii, and we all cannot wait to hear about your similar experience, you old salts.

May

03

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Friday 3 May 2013
Position:16° 53’ 55.20” N x 62° 31’ 02.40” W
Location: Second star to the right. Straight on till morning.

Image Caption: Kate and Becca demonstrate how they tested pteropod shell strength during their final oceanography poster presetation.

While logging hourly information in the doghouse I heard the JWO (Junior watch officer) call “Hands to pass the Staysl’s & the Jib). I quickly initialed the logbook and went on deck to help. As I made my way voices
barked out that they were ready on the various lines and before I could find a line or a student that needed me the JWO said “Pass the Stays’ls. Pass the Jib”. There was nothing for me to do but watch as the students tended and hauled on lines then passed the sails. Phase three and they are successfully calling, hauling, and logging sail evolutions without the help of the crew- it is enough to melt a deckhand’s heart. As the days pass, the salt builds up, the Mates/ Scientists words are echoing in their heads and they find their own rhythm, there are more and more moments like this: Hannah “Llama” popping into my cabin to announce that A watch broke a record doing Galley clean up, Alex has been given the title of “Wee Troll” for all her help in the Galley, Vincent “Wincent” was helping C watch so much sail handling one afternoon that I thought he was on watch with us. Each and every one of the students have had moments like this that have demonstrated that they are putting their shipmates before themselves. “Ship, Shipmate, Self”.

During class time today the students shared with the ships company their poster presentations of the data that we have been collecting with every hourly bucket, dip net and tow that we have done on board along with the hours of research they did back in Woods Hole. Students were lined up on deck boxes with posters hanging behind them that were filled with pie charts, scatter plots and fun facts. There was even a live presentation of a pteropod smashing from Becca and Kate. Some of the student’s hypotheses were supported, some were not, but each and every one of them sounded like an expert on what they have been studying.

For some behind the scenes information: The Galley Trolls have continued to keep our stomachs and hearts full. Bengineer (the Engineer) keeps on turning things on and off & pumping things.  The deckhands are continuing to make the world a better place by existing in it. Also, Alex “Wee Troll” Cuadros has been nominated by her classmates to be the class rep for C-246.

Becky Slattery
Deckhand

**Gaia, hug Nev for me.

May

02

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Thursday 02 May 2013
Position: 16° 16’ 02.40” N x 61° 57’ 16.80” W
Location: Near Guadeloupe

Photo Caption: Sunrise, Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica

The tall volcanic humps of the Lesser Antilles stand up like river rocks into the stream of the trade winds. Towers of cloud push up and over the mountains, trailing skeins of gray rain into jungled valleys planted with
stripes of bananas and specked with small houses. West of the islands, there’s often no wind at all, and it’s startlingly quiet, the play of light and clouds and rain like a sort of silent movie. From the ship, all that’s audible is the rattle of sails looking for wind, the hum of a generator, and periodic interjections of French from the radio as the harbor station on Guadeloupe makes its broadcasts. In the evening, the low light expands its palette until every surface and shadow stands out in a different pastel hue. Columns of cumulus, folded landscape, flat yellow sails, mercury surface of sea. Islands we’ve already passed, or haven’t yet reached, stand from horizon to horizon in a narrowing arc: Dominica, Marie Galant, The Saints, Monsterrat.

Students come and go, absorbed in the casual business of running the ship. It’s their show now, largely, and tasks large and small are coordinated, more or less fluently, in a language that was utterly foreign to them 8 weeks ago. Sails are set, the radar is checked for ship traffic. Watches are changed, and meals put out. Stuff gets cleaned. Bundles of instrumentation are calibrated and prepared for lowering overboard on the wire. We’ve come three thousand miles. Reams of scientific data are already in the bag, being processed for presentations that will begin in a day or two, but measurements will continue until the trip concludes. Our last really deep deployment will be tomorrow, and people are busy today decorating Styrofoam cups to send down as commemoratives. The pressure is intense at 2000 meters of depth, and the cups will come back looking different. This is a long tradition in research ships, and oceanographers accumulate rooms full of tiny coffee cups over the course of their sailing careers.

When light penetrates the ocean surface, the colors of the spectrum scatter and fade. Red disappears first, then orange, yellow, and green. Blue persists the longest, accounting for the color we connect most directly with water. This afternoon we stopped the ship for an experiment that measures the rate of this attenuation. Small, brightly colored biodegradable discs are dropped over the side, and as we watch, the time it takes each to disappear is timed, tabulated according to color, and compared to a standard. Afterwards, we eat the leftovers. Does anyone ever put M&M’s back into the bag?

Capt. Elliot Rappaport
Corwith Cramer

May

01

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Wednesday 01 May 2013
Position: 16° 08’ N x 61° 55’ W
Description of location: Sailing off the coast of Guadeloupe

Image Caption: Laura, Ben, Lydia, Maia, Becky and Nina enjoying the refreshing, thunderous waterfall.

Having packed our bellies full of fresh tropical fruits, frolicked in secluded waterfalls, and squelched our desires to ever hike again after the exquisite but grueling eight-hour boiling lake expedition, we find ourselves back in the comforting cradle of our ship. Dominica was a lovely, reinvigorating jolt of contact with life on land—every experience was doubly
amplified by the combined effect of our last month’s seclusion, and also the unfamiliarity of the place itself. I found it endlessly funny when cab drivers honked at the inert rocks in the road, as if the rocks would be terrified and suddenly move, and I found myself holding my breath in silent awe whenever I looked up to see another stunning vista of mountains shrouded in mist. Although I am positive that I could happily lose myself in Dominica for far longer than our three-day port stop allowed, I am also quite pleased and very content to fall back into the routine of life aboard the Cramer.

As assistant steward, life on the Cramer is a little bit different for me and head steward extraordinaire, Ashley. We rise every morning at 0430 to begin breakfast preparations. This usually consists of a great deal of grunting and grumbling until breakfast is mostly finished and we are free to guzzle our coffees and “stoop,” which is simply the act of sitting on
inverted milk crates, topped with some chaise lounge cushions for extreme comfort. After our 0620 and 0700 breakfasts have been served up, we like to flop down dramatically on the quarter deck for a bit of sun and rest. Then it’s back to the galley to put out a snack at 1000, to prepare and box up midnight snacks, and to make lunch, which is eaten at 1220 and 1300. When lunch is finished, we pop a few things into our charmingly cantankerous oven, Roxy, and head back to the quarter deck for all-hands class, where we learn about all the nifty things the students have been researching. We finish making dinner in time for seatings at 1820 and 1900, set midnight snack out on the ever-exciting hutch, and enjoy a little main salon socializing before tumbling into our bunks.

It took me a little while to adjust to the unique challenges of cooking in a moving kitchen. Knives must always be tucked under stationary objects, cutting boards must have cloths stuck beneath them to provide some friction, and no pot, bowl, or sink can ever be filled too high, lest we roll too steeply and the contents spill out onto the sole. Frying pans and pots are held into place on the stovetop with metal fiddles, as are all of the ingredients and utensils on our shelves. Baked goods are wedged into the oven or propped up with tin foil logs to prevent major spillage (depending on our tack), and still sometimes we find them plastered to the oven walls, or sadly deflated from too much wiggling around. Finding ingredients is always a treasure hunt, as our goods are kept beneath various bunks and settees, or below the galley in dry stores. Getting ingredients out of the reefer or freezer requires either extra-long limbs, or lots of determination. Sometimes we grumble about these challenges, but most of the time we find ourselves laughing hysterically at the absurdity of the ship’s movement and the specific tasks we are trying to perform. I must say, I quite like it. I am surrounded by the loveliest, kindest people, and when I climb the ladder to get some fresh air, I am met with a cool breeze, and the most spectacular sight—a dark, mountainous land mass full of twinkling lights, clouds illuminated in pinks and blues, and tall silent sails filled with wind.

Sending big hugs to Mom, Dad, Seth, and all my buddies back in Portland and beyond! Abby—, special love to you and your family! I’‘ll see you all in two short weeks, —hard to believe!

Nina Murray
Assistant Steward

Apr

30

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Tuesday 30 April 2013
Description of Location: Anchored in Portsmouth, Dominica

Image Caption: The wonderful and sensational Bati Bou Beach

If there is one thing I have learned while aboard the Cramer it is that plans change, roll with it and you will have a grand ol’ time. Yesterday at 0800 the student members of A and B watch climbed aboard a little wooden boat and motored to shore where we were greeted by Winston, a local of Dominica, and our fantastic guide for the day. The plan was to hike to a few waterfalls and then spend the rest of the afternoon in the city of Roseau. We made it to the first waterfall and it was spectacular. The water was crystal clear, cool, and refreshing. Bright orange river crabs scuttled across the rocks and beautiful greenery engulfed us. After a few of us went for a dip in the waterfall, we began our trek across the island (by van of course). We traveled through many villages and got a great sense of what the culture was like on this amazing island. However, after an hour or so of driving we realized we were only a mere one third of the way to our next destination. Quickly we came to the consensus that a change in plan was needed. Tucker kindly asked Winston if he could turn us around and head back to Bati Bou beach, which we had passed earlier in our drive. Winston agreed and minutes later, after stocking up on fresh mangos, coconuts and locally made coconut ice cream (got to make sure your well-nourished) we found ourselves rounding the corner to the most beautiful and secluded beach I have ever seen.

Other than a sign that said, “Take only photographs, leave only footprints” we were the only ones there! We played in the waves for hours, held coconut-throwing contests, and took a swim in pools that had been formed naturally by waves. There was no better way to spend the day than with friends laughing and making memories, all while being surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Today marks our final full day in Dominica, and tomorrow we will be under way yet again! Hopefully no one caught a bad case of the port stop stupid’s because we only have a few more days left aboard the wonderful Cramer can’t forget where all the lines are just yet!

To everyone back at home, I miss you and love you all!  You shall hear from me in approximately eight days! Matt- good luck sailing this weekend, remember slow is smooth and smooth is fast!

Kate Middleton
UMass Amherst

Apr

29

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Monday 29 April 2013
Description of location: Anchored at Portsmouth, Dominica

Image Caption: The Corwith Cramer from an unfamiliar vantage point! 

We’ve successfully stayed in place for the time being here in Dominica for the past 3 days! Some of us even ventured onto land! In fact, the very first thing members of A and C watch, plus Nina and Captain, did was walk about 100 steps to a van that took us to the beginning of the Boiling Lake hike. Crew members who had done the hike before warned us of its intensity- steep ups and downs for 6 miles. This came as quite a shock to our leg muscles that have been pacing the same 100 feet of deck for the past month, but we got through it (after 8ish hours).

The hike took us through the rainforest, up to the top of one mountain, which our guide informed us was about a quarter of the way, and pointed to a foggy valley that was our destination. Then we headed down. Down through the “Valley of Desolation” which was a bit like crossing to Mordor- hot and bubbling water oozing from the ground. Then it rained (it does that in rain forests). Then we went up. Up a muddy path with steep stairs. We walked and walked and walked until we reached a wall of fog and then we were there. It was hard to see through the steam, but down below there was, you guessed it, a boiling lake! A magical mystery some would say.

Today C watch held down the fort here on Cramer doing little projects here and there- taking bearings of landmarks, checking the anchor, processing nitrates in lab, fixing up some lines and sails, a little sole scrubbing, and a swim before dinner. I am heading to deck watch in about 5 minutes and 24 seconds, then a full night’s sleep (strange), and more exploration of Dominica tomorrow. We aren’t quite on island time here on the ship, but it has been a nice change of pace.

Take care, sea hares!

Sasha Giametti
Eckerd College

P.S. Family and friends, virtual hello again and I’ll be seeing many of you in a couple of weeks. For those back at school and Morocco, keep working on your night cheese. Love you, mean it! Matt- if you’re following this, I hope to see you in St. Croix before you board Cramer yourself!

Apr

27

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Saturday, April 27, 2013
Position: 15° 34’ 21.60” N x 61° 27’ 43.20” W
Description of location: Anchored at Dominica

Image Caption: Jumpin’ off the bow sprit. Happy Birthday Becca!

Well, first off (and most importantly) I’d like to wish all the tapirs in the world a very merry World Tapir Day. I was able to celebrate the joyous occasion by wearing my black and white shorts and eating a delicious berry, seed, and nut parfait (provided by the galley trolls, who I’m going to say definitely prepared the delicious snack on purpose).

Secondly, and of course not as important, we anchored in Dominica. After sailing almost 3,000 miles, we’ve finally made it to land. Over the past few days, I’ve had many conversations with my ship mates about the three day stop in Dominica. We’ve come to realize that we will be walking on solid ground that isn’t the same floor we’ve stepped on for the past 27 days, we will hear new voices and see new faces other than the 26 students and crew. A lot of excitement and anxiety is associated with this stop. Of course we can’t wait to step on solid land, eat some fresh fruit and explore the exciting island, but it also means that our trip aboard the Corwith Cramer is slowly coming to an end (but we don’t like to talk about that).

Basically, today we woke up to the delicious homemade bagels I helped roll out the previous night.YUM. C-watch was on duty during the anchoring process. Looking at the incredibly green and beautiful island was truly an amazing sight, also seeing cars for the first time in a month was a strange sight I, for some reason, wasn’t expecting. While anchored, we had our weekly field day where we cleaned Momma Cramer, ate candy and blasted some music (probably extremely different from the music that is now popular today - so out of the times now). Then we had the much-anticipated Sierra Charlie (aka SWIMMING CALL). Jumping off the bowsprit (a place where I have previously shakenly furled the jib and JT) was a weird experience. We’re so used to being clipped in all the time and fearing the Man Over Board alarm; however, today, we could climb up, and jump away (which was shockingly high). After the relaxing swim, which was much needed after a sweaty day of cleaning and sweltering heat, we all relaxed on the dog house as a rainbow appeared in the sky as Sasha played “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on her banjulele.

We won’t actually leave the boat today, but each watch has 2 full days on shore and 1 day on watch. So many more stories to come about that.

Charlotte Abrams
Willamette University

P.S. Family!! I can’t wait to talk to you tomorrow! There may be a Skype sesh involved so check emails.

P.P.S. From Alex: Happy birthday dad! Love you mucho and have fun on your trip!

P.P.P.S. To Rachel’s parents: could you please let Spirit of AK know I’m in Dominica (and St Croix on the 8th) so I can withdraw money? Muchas gracias xxox.

P.P.P.P.S. To all parents: Check yo emails tomorrow! Unless you are the parent of Alex, Tucker, Kate and Becca (they don’t get off the boat until Monday).

Apr

26

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Friday April 26, 2013, 2000
Position: 15° 18.2’ N x 60° 14.4’ W
Description of location: Just off the west coast of Dominica
Heading: 280° T
Wind: NE, F2
Speed: 1.9 knots

Caption: Lydia, Vincent, and Cassie laugh as Bengineer cools himself with the deck bilge pump in the 32°C weather

Land Ho!  In the wee hours of the morning, under the light of the full moon, the lights of the Lesser Antilles appeared on our horizon, giving us our first glimpse of land in over three weeks.  With the sight and smell of land comes new birds, radar fixes for plotting, and more ships than I’’ve seen in the past week combined.  Having a massive cargo ship cross two miles off Cramer’s bow while I was JWO finally makes me understand and appreciate all the times my dad got nervous sailing around the tankers in Boston harbor.  Walking in another person’‘s shoes really is the best way to understand them.

This morning the winds fell to Force 1 and the sweltering 30-degree weather had half the crew taking deck showers.  Of course, once my watch turned over, the winds picked up to a beautiful Force 4, giving class on the quarterdeck a beautiful environment.  The discussions in class turned towards the many opportunities in Dominica, from hiking to the Boiling Lake, to snorkeling in the Soufriere Bay, to visiting the capital of Roseau.  So much to do and so little time.  Our spirits are running high!

Here’’s to Dominica. Here we come!

Vincent van Mierlo
Carnegie Mellon University

Apr

25

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Thursday 25 April 2013
Position: 14° 10’ 38.40” N x 60° 15’ 57.60” W

Here we are, 2,624 nautical miles later, land on our radars and salt in our souls. For the past 24 days, the last thing I wanted to think about was land, nonetheless I have come to the realization that we will be
“land-ho!”-ing in a little less than 48 hours. It wasn’t until I saw the smudge that was Martinique on our radars that I was able to fully process what we are about to accomplish. All on our own, in our 136 foot floating home for 26, we crossed an unforgiving sea through the strongest of currents and the darkest of squalls. At this time, we have passed Dominica’s latitude and are now working our way westward to sail downwind and finally have the opportunity to (hopefully) set our squares’ls. Now, I absolutely cannot wait until we catch our first glimpses of the volcanic islands, where wind meets land and creates (what I’ve heard to be) the loveliest cloud formations and the most brilliant sunrises.

It also wasn’t until I climbed aloft on the foremast that I realized how small we really are in comparison to the vastness of the ocean surrounding us. It is so easy to forget the gravity of our surroundings when
we’re always on the go (even though there’s not many places to go) whether it be on watch, researching in the lab, or just always being surrounded by people and conversation. We are a little town that you can pinch between your fingers from way up aloft, and the only humans in the radius of hundreds of miles at times. It is rare to come across a ship, and when we do, their closest point of approach is an average of 20 miles away. This is bound to change rather soon though, as we close in on Dominica and its surrounding islands, ship meetings should become common.

I can never seem to find the right words to express the innumerable wonders this experience has brought us, but a quote often comes to mind:
“For the ocean is so big, and my boat is so small.”

Alex Cuadros
Broward College

P.S. To my mom, dad, and Jon: I hope to hear your voices soon-I love and miss you guys all too much! Jon: I finally finished Deadeye Dick in no place better than the bowsprit. It was well worth the hold up. Besitos Bruder!

P.P.S Nina wishes the happiest of birthdays to her big brother who is braving the cold Alaskan weather. I miss you and can’t wait to share boat stories when we are both home!

P.P.P.S Laura is wishing Mom a happy birthday and hopes she has a wonderful day!

Apr

24

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Wednesday 24 April 2013, 1800
Position: 15°20.3’’ N x 060°15.4’’ W
Description of location: The tropics!
Heading:  165 True
Speed:  4.5 knots
Weather / Wind:  E x N, F4

Image Caption: Like kids on a jungle gym. How many can you count?

When I last posted a few weeks ago, it was on the day we entered the Sargasso Sea. Today, as signaled by a drop in salinity, a rise in chlorophyll-a, and the disappearance of the algae Sargassum, we officially
left the Sargasso and are now sailing in the tropics. The water and air are warmer, and the ocean has less blue and more grey in it than we’‘ve seen for weeks.

We’’ve come a long way since our entrance into the Sargasso, in terms of knowledge and our roles in the functioning of the ship. Today began the Junior Watch Officer phase of the trip, and Sasha, our very first JWO (Junior Watch Officer on deck), did a stellar job. I’’m up tonight, from 2300-0300. I’’m nervous, but I already know how everything will turn out: I’‘ll do some dumb things, some smart things, and I’’ll learn a lot. And I know I have my ever-supportive C Watch members right there, helping me through.

These weeks have been a balance of expanse and constraint—, we’’re traveling up to 100 nautical miles per day, but only walking a max. of 135 feet at a time. We repeat most of the exact same motions every day, —we handle the same sails, deploy the same pieces of scientific equipment, and talk to the same people, but our knowledge of the ship, sailing, and one another is increasing exponentially. I won’’t pretend that I understand this experience yet, but I am already profoundly grateful for how much I’‘ve learned.

Hope everyone on shore is wrapping up April happy and safe. We’’ll talk to you from Dominica!

Rachel Kaplan
Brown University

p.s. Lots of love to all friends and family. Can’’t wait to talk soon, and show off my guns and appetite (they don’’t call me Beef for nothing).
p.p.s. Ashley sends a happy birthday shout-out to Randall!
p.p.s. I was interrupted in writing this by the announcement of “dolphins on the bow!” There’‘s no way around it, —we’’re living the life.

Apr

23

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Tuesday 23 April 2013
Position: 17°26.0’ ’N x 059°55.8’ ’W
Heading: 180°PSC
Location: Leaving the Sargasso Sea and nearing land!
Log run: 2348.1 nm

Caption: Sunset on the Mothership

Today went as days normally do here on the Corwith Cramer. The watch cycled, breakfast lunch and dinner came and went, snacks showed up as usual and dawn and dusk appeared right on schedule. We saw one Brown Boobie (a seabird), a Tropics Bird, and some ocean trigger fish. We carried out four hours of science deployments. Every hour someone walked a lap around the ship on a boat check while another jotted down weather data and in the lab, a bucket was thrown over the side for temperature measurements. These things happened on schedule, yet I notice a subtle change in the group.

For starters, we are 23 days in. That means as of tomorrow, we have two weeks till we are kicked off Momma Cramer onto St. Croix. In 5 days, we anchor in Dominica for our 3 day port stop. In 12 hours, we begin phase 3 of the trip. This is where we become either JWO (Junior Watch Officers) or JLO (Junior Lab Officers). This means added responsibility, and for some maybe, stress. Tomorrow is also our last day of science deployments directly related to our research projects. I will have to work with the Leptocephali larvae I have (55 specimens) and what we may catch in the 0000 Neuston Tow during Mid-Watch. Now we crack down and put it all together.

We’re all in no position to be concerned about our new responsibilities or deadlines- we have trained the last three weeks for this moment, so I contribute the change in ship mood to be more of a settling in condition. The excitement of the new environment is still there, but less so that it covers up what we are really doing. Now we have time to stop and realize that we haven’t watched TV in 23 days, used our cellphones, or (with the exception of 2 hours on Saturday) listened to music. No Facebook. No cars or more than 24 faces a day. The outside world becomes distant with every mile even as we grow closer to our first sighting of land in weeks. I think it took a while for the effects of what we gave up to really wear off, for us to be able to appreciate what that actually means. We die laughing at stupid jokes, read and craft in our free time and are actually content. I personally felt a change this last week, realizing how pivotal this chosen seclusion is going to be in our lives. When are we ever truly cut off like this?

Mom- It occurred to me today that you’re probably tracking my cruise track so I’‘m glad we’ve been including GPS. It’s about to get more interesting! Love you

Abigail Clarke
Umass Amherst

P.S from Hannah Stafford: Happy 21st birthday Trevor! Hope it’s great and can’’t wait to see you in a few weeks!

Apr

22

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Monday 22 April 2013
Position: 19° 34’ 02.40” N x 59° 57’ 21.60” W
Location: Somewhere South of the Tropic of Cancer

Image Caption: “You decide.” – Elliot Rappaport

Ayy ayy you landlubbers. Listen to this ‘‘ere blog. It’s been a fortnight if it’s been a day since me last post, and I’‘ve lost the city slicker inside ‘o’ me. We’’re on a new bearin’’ due south in the deep blue, everyday battlin’’ sea monsters the likes ‘o’ you never heard on. I received quite the tongue lashin’’ today from me first mate Molly, a reg’lar ‘ol’ salt she is. “Sweat that jib jigger you sea-dog” I says to her, as the halyard be full ‘o’ slack, and for my impudence I gets a lashing as the likes ‘o’ you never seen.

Over the past two days I’’ve undergone a significant transformation. Not mentally, or physically, but spiritually. And I suppose quantitatively. Yesterday marked my 21st birthday, and according to my shipmates, my “golden birthday” (21 on the 21st, you get it). It was interesting to spend my 21st out at sea, where there be absolutely no alcohol allowed. Not even a drop ‘o rum. It actually turned out to be a pretty great day—, everybody was super nice, I got a birthday card, cupcakes, music, and watched the sun set from the top of the foremast. As I reflected on spending the day of my 21st without so much as a sip of beer, I actually became quite grateful that I was there. Everybody knows what happens during 21st birthdays on land, and I was in fact spared the hole in my wallet and a pounding hangover. As Jordan, one of our lovely deck-hands put it, if I wanted to get sick and throw up I could just drink seawater.

The second transformation, as you may have guessed, was that I became a pirate. Yes, it’s true. But whether this is a passing facade or my new permanent identity, I will have to get back to you on that one. Oh, and thirdly, I gave myself a birthday mustache as a little present from me to me, and from me to the rest of the world. It was indeed inspired by Captain Elliot Rappaport, who you will see in the picture. I must say, this mustache has had quite an impact on the way I carry myself, and it’s quickly becoming a part of me. I can no longer tell where I end and the mustache begins. Who is in control of who, I will never know. The handlebar mustache first started off, as Jean Baudrillard would describe it, a simulacrum. In his “Precession of the Simulacra”, Baudrillard defines this roughly as a simulation, or copy of a real thing —that eventually in its replication becomes authentic, and becomes the new original. In this way I have entered the precession, and my mustache is no longer the duplicate.

But enough of this rambling. I think my family might appreciate some real details about my experience. This trip has been filled with remarkable ups and downs. There are some nights where you have to stand lookout at three in the morning in the pitch black on the bow of the ship, getting tossed around by waves and sprayed in the face, and your mind immediately runs to the darkest thoughts in your capacity. This experience I’’ve described as, with the help of my friends Becca and Kate, literally “standing alone in the dark, looking at nothing.” It is as miserable as it sounds. Then there are the times where you are perched up on a good spot above the lab, reading a book, watching the sun spray rays of pinks, oranges, and purples across the sky as it sets behind the horizon, and the ocean air blows by your face and the simple act of taking a deep breath is greatly pleasurable. These moments create the contrasts.

A few days ago B watch switched officers, and although Keirstan, Jordan, and Anne are sadly missed, our new officers are so fetch’. Molly is the first mate— - we exchange a lot of banter, but overall have a hilariously unique relationship that works, and she is a bottomless well of sailing knowledge. She once told me in the most endearing way possible that I wasn’’t allowed to fall overboard because that would be “too much paperwork.” Our deckhand-intern is Becky. She is the kind of person who can make you laugh until the tears fall and your stomach hurts, and you still don’’t want her to stop. Only last night Becky was searching wholeheartedly for the missing eyes of a flying fish that had landed in our boat so that she could turn them into jewelry. And our scientist is Laura. Another hilarious character who can quote Anchorman better than any college frat guy I know, and often cuts me slack when I’’m working in the lab, a seemingly foreign country to me.

Our watch gets along swimmingly, and when we’re not hauling on sheets, gybing, reefing the mains’’l, or putting the jib to the leathers, we’’re talking in weird accents or laughing at one thing or another. Overall,
I’’ve not much more to say, except a few yo-ho’s—yo-ho, and a bottle of rum! Hoist the colors you scurvy sea-dogs! And suchlike pirate ramblings.

Family and Friends I love and miss: all of you……

Captain Billy “Handlebar” Bones (Formerly known as Tucker Watson)
Saint Michael’s College

Also, just a few days ago we heard about the Boston marathon bombing. It is an odd experience to hear about such an event, so close to home for many of us, while we are out at sea, without any visuals or live-broadcast news. Luckily it seems that nobody on this boat has had family or friends affected, for which we are thankful, and we would like to say that our thoughts go out to those involved in the tragedy.

Apr

20

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Saturday 20 April 20, 2013 16:21
Position: 24°00.3’ ’N x 060°23.5’ ’W
Heading: 175°PSC
Location: Sargasso Sea (finally heading South!)

Image Caption: Shooting LAN (local apparent noon)

Hello friends and family! I’m sure that after reading the daily blog most of you are familiar with our typical daily routines; however, today is Saturday and usually Saturdays provide a nice break in our daily watch schedules. Saturdays are dedicated to field day, the most exciting day of all since we get to eat candy and listen to music for two hours. Thanks to field day last week, I’ve had Katy Perry stuck in my head all week…. Anyway, we were looking forward to this exciting day but unfortunately, it has been postponed until tomorrow due to various weather conditions that would make cleaning a more challenging task than it already is. But wait…. our schedules are already booked for tomorrow! Why? Because it’s Earth Day!!! How can we have field day and Earth day on the same day?? I’m sure Jeff will fill us in tomorrow but we are in for an exciting Sunday indeed! Students are encouraged to dress in their “Sunday best” for Earth day and the lovely galley ladies are providing Earth day snacks. Students and various crew members are supposedly performing skits and songs to celebrate this lovely day. Let’s just hope the seas are more cooperative tomorrow!

Since we are headed south towards Dominica, we are currently experiencing the northeast trade winds. Luckily, these winds are in our favor and are pushing us along towards Dominica (which is only a week away!); however, the ride has become a bit more turbulent. The boat is starting to rock a little bit more and our heeling angle has increased. Simple tasks are not as easy as they used to be. It’s not unusual to hear crashing noises from the galley or a faint shriek from the students above deck who get sprayed by a wave. At night I find myself plastered to one side of my bunk and showering has become an interesting challenge. Eating meals on the gimbled table is always a comical sight. If you sit on one side of the table, your plate is practically in your face and it makes it more convenient to shovel food directly in your mouth. When seated on the other side of the table, your food is so far and pouring water into a cup can become difficult. No matter what side you’re sitting on, though, you always get an ab workout! Despite these various challenges (which I find quite comical), we are continuing to have loads of fun and are learning more and
more every day as we slowly progress towards Phase III.

Hannah Stafford
Colorado College

P.S. Hello to my family, Trevor and friends! Missing you all and excited to see you in 3 ish weeks!

Apr

19

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Friday 19 April 2013, 17:00
Position: 26° 03.7’N x 060° 48.8’ W
Winds: NExE, Force 5
Speed Over Ground: 5 knots

Part of a day in the life:

2300 – B watch is supposed to go to sleep

2345 – B watch is still on deck, Tucker about to lose his mind on lookout and the rest of us about pass out while hauling to set the main… the little sleep we get just got shorter… bummer.

0600 – Kate awakes and proceeds to spill OJ everywhere due to the fact no easy task is accomplishable on this rocking boat.

0700 – Tucker arrives on deck with a correctly latched harness on… it only has taken him around three weeks to lean this… good work TukTuk.

0800 – Kate and I attempt to contribute to the NOAA forecast (aka your weather forecast)… don’t blame the weather man for errors… this one is on us.

0900 – Who knew that in order to gybe the sheets most likely need to be eased out… on day 19… still not us. Learn something new every day here.

1000 – Who would have thought that it was an important step to turn on the CTD (scientific thing) before deploying it to 1200 meters… not me… luckily this did not happen.

1100 – Deckhand Becky and Kate have a long battle with the process of determining the time of local apparent noon. Shhhh first mate Molly never knew they were using longitude instead of latitude… classic mistake in the doghouse.

1200 – Me: “Oh my god look at all those birds” Kate: “Those are flying fish” We’ve only been doing 6 minute observations for three weeks now, those must be some inaccurate 6 minute obs.

1300 – That flying fish that so kindly landed on our deck and found by Abby was put to good use… it caught us a Mahi Mahi

1400 – Sailing Stuff…Classic

1500 – After finishing some nice sail handling a wave crashed over the port side and absolutely soaks Abby… she always seems to be the target of these occurrences.

To the Family: Hope lax is going well, missing you guys.

Becca Otley (Bates College)

Apr

18

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Thursday 18 April 2013 16:24
Position: 27°38.9’N x 061°47.1’W
Heading: 167°T
Location: Sargasso Sea

Image Caption: Quiet on deck before dinner. The mini city that never sleeps.

My fellow shipmates have explained very well the vast amount of information that has been thrown at us and absorbed as best as possible.  They have also mentioned the strange concept of time that we deal with here on the ship. We have all enthusiastically described how well fed we are and the very cool science we’ve conducted. But as a note, the days we are assigned to blog are the days that we have morning watch, so although many of the blogs start with 0600 wakeups and having bacon and eggs for breakfast, don’‘t be fooled, there are other times when we are woken up at the strange hour of 0230 (2:30AM) with a bite of midnight snack and maybe coffee to stand watch until sunrise. I’m not complaining about Dawn Watch- once up and about, it is a really nice time to be sailing, but it takes a while before one gets used to being shaken out of a deep sleep in the middle of the night.

There are many unusual things we have become accustomed to seeing in our new home on Cramer such as - how water appears to flow out of a faucet at a sharp angle if we’re doing some serious sailing, our cozy 7’ x 2.5’ bedrooms in which all of our belongings fit, or the leveling “gimbled” tables at meal times. What I have found most interesting is the juxtaposition of normal and new sounds. I sleep in the forward end of the ship and while lying in bed, I can hear a combination of happenings in the main salon and the goings on up on deck. The jingle of silverware being put away simultaneous with the shuffling and calls of a sail being set is a now familiar combination of sounds. 

One aspect of ship living I particularly enjoy is that everything has its place and purpose. That little piece of twine tied to the rail serves some sort of duty at one point or another. For example, one of those twines is used to hold Jeff’‘s coffee cup in place during scientific deployments. Some things are latched down permanently, while other things such as books and bowls and plotting tools have an intricate cubby or hook that they belong to. Many things are personified- the stove and water boiler have names, as does the spatula, Spatchie, used to scrape our plates clean. Maybe this is something deeply ingrained in old time lonely sailing culture that I may never understand, but for now is very amusing.

Despite being attentive to charts and peering at the horizon during lookout, we “know” that we are in the middle of the ocean (unless all of the GPSs are rigged and we are in some sort of social experiment). But it can be easy to forget. It wasn’t until climbing aloft and seeing the ship beneath me that I got a bigger picture of our circumstances. Really we are a floating mini city that never sleeps.

Best wishes little fishes.

Sasha Giametti
Eckerd College

PS- Shout out to my family- hope all is well and I love you! And friends, you know who you are xoxoxox!

Apr

17

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Wednesday 17 April 2013, 1540
Position: 28° 50.4’’ N x 62° 54.2’’ W
Location: Sailing full and by (currently NE) in the Sargasso Sea on a starboard tack
Weather: Freaking beautiful outside. Made it 1500 nautical miles!!

Image Caption: Getting ready to say goodbye to Phase 1 with a little climb up the foremast. Laura was sleeping.

There are so many things I could talk about from the last couple weeks. To recap some of them:

Cool animals I have seen:
Dolphins - 4 times
Sargassum Fish
Golden finches and a woodpecker (what?)
Portuguese Man of War - a lot
Flying fish - a whole lot
Vellella vellella (cool jellyfish with a float shaped like a sail on top)
Salps! All of the salps!
Phyllosoma – spiny lobster larvae
Whales!!!

Cool things I (and everyone else) have done:
Gone aloft on the foremast
Climbed every which way to furl the sails
SCIENCE
Taken a salt water deck shower (nicer than a normal one)
Celestial Navigation
Worked my butt off

Things I did today (still cool):
Prepped, deployed, and took data for a phytonet, secchi disk, a CTD, and a Neuston Tow.
Was a dancer (secchi disk and a CTD rather than a tutu) and a wire driver.
Also helped with a surface station and a dip net.
Did hourly readings and 6-minute observations
Furled the Jib Tops’l and the Jib
Hauled on the Main Sheet
Was on helm steering Mama Cramer

We all started Phase 2 this week, which involved a change in our watch officers. To get so used to talking to the same six people for the majority of your day and then to suddenly have half of those people change is a crazy experience.  Not only that, but now you have these “new” people whose job is to not answer all of my questions; because by now I, or a member of my watch, should already have the answers.  Molly, Becky, and Laura were the perfect crew for me for Phase 1, they helped me sort all the information in my head and made Phase 1 awesome.  Cassie, Maia, and Lydia so far seem pretty awesome too, and I can tell they are really going to push me so that I feel comfortable with all the sail-handling and science without their help.  A-Watch can now furl the sails, get everything prepared for the daily morning science deployment, and make sure everything is done and logged correctly; meanwhile our new Watch Officers are “standing by aggressively”, keeping a close eye on any safety concerns.  In the course of 17 days we have been deemed knowledgeable enough to handle everything on our own, for the most part.  Any given day consists of Watch responsibilities, oceanography project work, class, eating, and sleeping, and the occasional time for reading, playing guitar, or making turks head bracelets. Somehow in the course of all of this I have managed to remember all of these new things that that are so completely foreign to anything I have ever done before, and I am loving it!

For some reason you are completely absorbed in each moment at sea.  I could relay to you my entire day - from when I woke up at 0600 this morning up to when I go to bed this evening, sometime after mid watch. I could probably get it down to the minute, which is something I have never been able to say about my days on shore. 

Hava and Ethan, start getting some supplies like rope, and maybe some shower curtains for sails, because when I get home I will have to show you some of the things we do to set and strike sails, and there is no way I could describe it correctly in this blog.  I love you Mama, Papa, Hava, and Ethan! If any other family or friends are reading this, know that I love you guys too and can’’t wait to see you again! I’’ll be the short Jewish girl with the Popeye arms and a significant tan!

PS. Abby says welcome to Cole Orion Eldridge, and congratulations to Grey and Amanda!

Apr

16

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Tuesday 16 April 2013 at 1700
Position: 29° 26.7’’ N x 062° 55.9’ ’W
Location: Sailing ever further into the Sargasso Sea
Sail Plan: On a port tack, with the Four Lowers & JT set, making a mere 2 knots, steering 190° psc
Weather: Light winds, Beaufort Force 2 from the NE x E. Seas 3’ from the ESE. Cloudy with a mix of cumulous and cumulonimbus. 

Image caption:  A phronemid amphipod - a type of planktonic crustacean that was living inside the gelatinous casing of a poor salp - a type of planktonic urochordate.  No worries, this aggressive little creature measured a mere 2cm in length.  No match for our nets and forceps!

Someone famous once said “Life is like a box of chocolates…”. And though I do like my chocolate, the rich dark stuff that goes well with a strong cup of coffee, I would much prefer to ponder my metaphors (and alliterative potential) from a petri dish full of zooplankton . You never quite know what you are going to get, always full of surprises. 

That is certainly the case with each and every cruise.  Despite all the planning and preparation, no matter the good intentions or learning from past mistakes, there will always be certain things left to chance.  Try as one may to anticipate and prepare for all scenarios the only thing you can truly count on is for something unexpected to happen; you just hope the surprise is a pleasant one. 

For instance, the weather the last two weeks has been a mix of favorable winds from a passing cold front just as we crossed the Gulf Stream –- simply glorious -– one could not have asked for better timing.  Only to be followed by some down right rough sea conditions that led to an unanticipated, southerly detour in our cruise track.  Through it all Cramer sailed true and the students earned their sea legs. The last few days we have had calm seas that make for pleasant sleeping, but are less favorable for sailing. Fortunately for us as educators, each change in the wind and weather provides an opportunity for students to set different sails and to learn how to steer Cramer on a different tack.

Similarly, our numerous scientific deployments have confirmed many a student’s hypotheses.  However, there have been some surprises as well (which opens the door to new discoveries!).  Where once we would have expected multitudes of spiny lobster larvae, instead our nets fill with colonial radiolarians, salps, and siphonophores –- all types of zooplankton. I encourage you to ask your son or daughter to draw these truly spectacular critters for you.  A picture is worth a thousand words –- really no way to capture their beauty with mere words. 

But the Cramer is not just a ship to sail or a research lab for the study of the oceans, it is also our home, and that is where I will turn my attention for the remainder of this blog.  When anticipating a lengthy time at sea one cannot help but wonder how the new crew will do.  You never know how things will turn out.  Back in Woods Hole the students of C246 could accurately be described as a great class; they all worked hard, asked interesting questions, and were prompt, courteous and always respectful.  Everything one could hope for in a class.  But that was in Woods Hole, a more familiar setting, a small campus, a more traditional classroom, an experience each student was well prepared for.  But nothing could have prepared them for their first two weeks onboard the Corwith Cramer.  They have come to a foreign land, with new customs and a language all its own.  This transition to life at sea, as a working crew member, can be daunting.  The idea that the ship and your shipmates come first, before you think of yourself, this is a new concept to many.  But if we all buy in to the idea, 100%, it works out for everyone. 

Well, I am happy to report that this class has really come together as a crew and a community, each student looking out for one another as any good shipmate would.  As a teacher it is always rewarding to see the class learn their lines, handle sails safely and efficiently, and develop their skills in the lab collecting samples and processing data.  But it is a pure joy to participate in the growth and evolution of a class of individual students into a crew of shipmates.  I must say I have enjoyed myself immensely, all of you back home would be proud. 

In closing I would like to make a personal shout-out to the all the plankton that have provided us with so much inspiration.  And special thanks to the phronemid amphipods that showed up in our neuston tow last night.

Jeffrey M. Schell
Chief Scientist for Sea Education Association –

Apr

15

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Monday 15 April 2013 17:26
Position: 29°39.6’ ’N x 065°29.1’ ’W
Location: Sargasso Sea
Heading: 085°T
Wind: SSE, F2
Speed: 4 knots

Image Caption: Johanna preps A watch on the morning science deployments.

Hello from the world of science (or the 10-by-10 foot lab we affectionately call “the nerdery”) -sailing onboard the Corwith Cramer. Another day of sunny weather, great sailing and sightings of a humpback whale! Today marks the 14th day that students have been aboard. It is clear that over the past two weeks, they have accumulated a great deal of knowledge regarding general operations on deck and in the lab. Their initial deer-in-the-headlights expression has been replaced with a more confident, smiling demeanor.  Tomorrow, “Phase 2” will begin and Watch Officers will turn over more responsibility to the students. During Phase 2 students will get a sense of what is involved in running and managing a Watch both on deck and in the lab. This transition greater responsibility will prepare students to eventually take on the role of “Junior” Watch Officer in the last weeks of the trip.

To the students, Cramer is now home. People strum on brightly colored Ukuleles in the main salon or on the quarter deck, others are stumbling out of their bunks in their pj’s, hair a mess after a post-watch nap, to check out what’s for snack. Someone is always at a microscope in the lab. Social networking now consists of which table you choose for the delicious meals the galley has prepared, and the only time you’ll hear anything about a “tweet” is if a lost bird decides to hitch a ride with us for a while.

Recently, I was flipping through a picture book from the library that chronicled the perilous voyages of merchant ships around Cape Horn, and came across this quote:

“She is more than a ship to the sailor in her focs’l; she is a personality. He knows her; He has watched her come bravely through a hurricane, haul safely off a lee shore, work miraculously through a calm. He has studied her little ways, the eccentricities and the peculiarities which each sailing ship has to herself; he knows what she can do and what she can’t; he knows when she is being asked to do too much and too little. He always speaks of his ship as if she lived.”

By the end of the voyage, our students will empathize with this “sailor in the focs’l”. They will have sailed the ship over 2000 miles to St. Croix, attuned to Cramer’s “eccentricities and peculiarities”. They will understand the essence of looking after the ship, and each other.  Before our last field day Captain Elliot said, “Keep Cramer happy and she’ll keep us happy.” To all the Moms and Dads and anyone else glued to the computer waiting anxiously for the blog to show up, know that Mama Cramer is keeping us all happy, healthy and loving life at sea. Until next time, we are wishing you all the best from the Sargasso Sea.

Laura Hansen
3rd Assistant Scientist

P.S. Hi Mom, Dad, Babi, Kristy, Paul, the Falcos, Matt and friends and family I miss you all very much and can’’t wait to see you when I get home. Mom and Kristy- have a great time in Mexico! Someone give Rockles a kiss and a stretchies for me!

P.P.S. Shout outs from team galley: Ashley says Hello! To Kit and Randall and Nina says Hi to Mom and Pop and Seffers! She says she is happy!

P.P.P.S To our families:  WE SAW THE WHALES. BOTH OF THEM. Becky only saw one whale. She cried. But due to an unrelated incident.  Love Jordan and Lydia and Becky. Also, hi mom dad devinlenny milesy and the rest, the whales made my life. Love and miss you. Love Jo.

Apr

14

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Sunday 14 April 2013, 1800
Position: 29° 35.2’ N x 067° 48.9’W
Heading: 095° T
Wind: SExS, F2
Speed: 2.4 knots

Photo Caption: Charlotte and Rachel hang out on the course yard (~40 feet above deck)

Another beautiful day, waking up to a wonderful sunrise with dolphins playing just off the bow.  Sitting on the bowsprit, such a sight still brings tears to the eyes.  Soon, A watch prepared to take the ship, where we proceeded to execute one of our most efficient round of scientific deployments.  With the practiced ease and speed we are taking on samples, the lab is starting to pile up with vials holding everything from phytoplankton to pteropods to leptocephali stored in lugols, ethanol, and formalin.  The processing of our samples is just starting to move along and all too soon we will be writing up the conclusions to our discoveries.  How time moves when you’’re busy and having fun.

Today’’s highlight was the opportunity to go aloft.  After eating a scrumptious quiche for lunch, A and C watch prepared to climb the rigging as high as each person dared.  Everyone made it to the first yard, about 40 feet above the deck, but only the fearless reached as high as the sailing lights, some 110 feet in the air.  The horizon has never looked so far away and the vantage point rewarded us with the sight of breaching whale as well as a dozen Portuguese Man-o-Wars.  Such thrills and sights remind me why I love being here as well as giving me a healthy dose of excitement.

Here’’s to our future as scientists, adventurers, and achievers.  May Poseidon guide us and our loved ones in all our endeavors.

Vincent van Mierlo
Carnegie Mellon University

Apr

13

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Saturday 13 April 2013
Position: 29°00.5’N x 069°22.6’W
Heading: 080°
Speed: 5.0 knots

Photo Caption: Studying some not so stable specimens under some not so stable conditions

It’s pretty fascinating to realize that it has been 2 weeks come Monday since our departure from land. I can’t even decide whether I should be saying that it has been ‘already two weeks’ or ‘only two weeks’ considering how far we’ve come, in miles, knowledge, and not only learning to deal with mistakes but being proactive about learning from them. Fingers and toes do not suffice for how many times I forgot my lines under pressure, and cast off a halyard instead of a downhaul. Woops.

Another thing my shipmates and I have realized is that the transition from landlubbery to adolescent saltiness was not as mentally and emotionally draining as we thought it’d be. The experience is like no other, and it is hard to prepare for something that you cannot fully comprehend until you are immersed in it. We could plot dead reckoning positions all day long in our cozy, stable classroom in Woods Hole and look at stable specimens under the stable microscope on our stable stools. But that’s no fun. We were all told about how glorious laying on the bowsprit is, but you don’t really come to appreciate it until you’re on 0300 lookout with nothing but the sound of wind gliding across Cramer’s sails ever so perfectly and the sight of bioluminescent masses floating by reminding you that although we are a far ways away from land, we are not as alone out here as we think we are.

Anyway, with 1106 nautical miles into our voyage and about 1200 to go until we reach Dominica, our research is really starting to take shape. Daily deployments are lots ‘o’ fun, and it’s always amazing to see what kind of critters were lucky enough to make their way into our nets, allowing us to gain a better understanding of them. Science rules.

Fair winds to all who have been keeping up with our daily postings, and I apologize for not being able to communicate our experience and do it the justice it deserves.

Alex Cuadros
Broward College

P.S. Miss you lots mom and dad, I hope all is well and you are having a good time reading this blog  and Jon, I really wish I could share this experience with you, because I’m going to have a really tough time telling all the stories. Give Jiranamo kissies for me. I love you guys.

P.P.S. (from Hannah) – Mom and Dad, really excited about getting into the program!!

Apr

12

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Friday 12 April 2013
Position: 28°24.5’N x 071°10.6’W
Region: The Sargasso Sea!
Heading: 090°T
Speed: 4.7 knots

Picture caption: Rachel and I with our handy dandy science checklist.

How to even put the past 12 days aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer into words. Each and every member of the class of C-246 was thrown out of their comfort zone into an environment unfamiliar to all. Despite anyone’s previous knowledge in sailing or science, we are all “on the same boat” when it comes to the vastly overwhelming knowledge that is thrown at us every day. As I’‘ve discussed with fellow C watcher Sasha, we agree that it seems more like one REALLY long day than 12 normal days.

One of the many things I’ve come to realize is that my life on land did not sufficiently prepare me for the 8-10 hours of watch we have each day (during watch, there is strictly no sitting, but as the lovely Watch Officer Cassie and Scientist Maia say “aggressive leaning is allowed” phew). But it’s definitely been a fascinating journey to slowly observe our ship mates transform into some salty sailors. Becca, Kate and Tucker of B watch are already learning how to go aloft as I write this blog!

Today, C watch had morning watch (0700-1300). We gybed and hove to in order to deploy some awesome science. Don’’t worry, we had the “beef” Rachel to help us haul those lines. We also had Vincent’‘s help, as it seems he is always on watch and never sleeps.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, normal day-to-day activities on land are no easy task on a 135 ft sailing vessel. Abby was a brave soul to pioneer some laundry-ing. Luckily, we have Johanna to document our crazy adventures with the camera she always carries around, which I’m extremely thankful for due to fact that my camera has seldom left my bunk.

Despite the weird sleeping patterns, sore feet, and that constant fear/anticipation for the day when we become Junior Watch Officers (a day which seems to be flying closer and closer), all worries and concerns seem to slip away during moments such as: being lookout on mid-watch, singing quietly to yourself and seeing multiple shooting stars fly above head, or witnessing dolphins play and jump through the boats wake on the bow sprit.

Well, that’s all for now. Keep on keepin on.

Charlotte Abrams
Willamette University

PS: I miss ya Mom, Dad, Haleakela, and all other family and friends who are reading this blog! Give Franklin a treat and a good belly rub for me!

PPS: Mom, I’’ve come such a long way on the boat! There were dolphins swimming by the bow and, despite what I’‘m pretty sure you were 99% confident would happen, I did not, in fact, jump off the side of the boat and befriend them!

PPPS: RIP SST bucket. You were always so good at collecting water.  Maybe one day you’ll wash up on the shores of Puget Sound.

PPPPS: From Kate-Matt, good luck this weekend, have fun!

PPPPPS: From Sasha: Mom, hope you are recovering smoothly from surgery! Love you guys!

Apr

11

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Thursday 11 April 2013, 1700
Position: 27°41.5’N x 072°12.4’W
Location: Sargasso Sea
Wind & Sailing conditions: SE x E, BF 5: Making 4.9 knots

Image Caption: Class at Sea on the Quarterdeck

“The minutes mean everything and the days mean nothing,” –Molly Eddy Our chief mate said this to me and it struck me as the best way to describe what this trip has become. I’‘m sure the followers of this blog have noticed a common trend.

0600- Wake ups and a lovely breakfast of breakfast enchiladas and apple slices.
0620- A Watch (Hannah, Abby, Vincent, Johanna) start morning watch
0900- Science deployments and sail handling to put the boat in a hove to position for the carousel, secchi disk, phytonet, and CTD
1220- Lunch for B and others
1300- Watch turned over to B for afternoon watch, lunch for A and C (Macaroni and cheese with linguica, broccoli and cauliflower)
1430- Science with Jeff Schell! And Happy Birthday to Laura with a petrified cupcake!
1700- Blogging with yours truly, Abby

I find myself constantly asking what day of the month and week it is, and lately, I have just stopped asking. As Molly’s words describe, we are in a schedule where we function like a machine. The schedule stays the same as do the activities, but that is not actually true. I have also been told, everything is the same, until it isn’’t, which is most of the time.

You may notice from our blogs that we often talk about our lovely galley ladies, Ashley and Nina. Basically, the food is awesome. And it appears in the main salon 6 times a day. That’‘s food for every watch every 4 hours. Celebrity diets work this way too! Just with maybe a 5th of the portion per meal. Now let’s combine this with the maximum distance we can walk (NOT RUN OR JUMP!) in any direction… less than 135 feet. The first week of perpetual seasickness balanced out this extreme caloric intake. I personally found that a full stomach left less room for my stomach to think about other things. Now that we have our sea legs we can consider our schedules and comfort, and the concept of boat workouts has become a theme. This takes a great deal of imagination and trouble shooting. So we try triceps dips off the deck boxes, lunges down the science deck, chair position while peering at the horizon for boat traffic and pull ups off the traveler outhauls. It’s amazing what a crew of motivated sailors can come up with.

This has been the hardest experience I personally, and probably any of us have experienced. Molly (chief mate) describes the students as a ceiling with nearly cooked spaghetti (information) thrown at us. Some sticks the first time, then we try again and again… and again until it all sticks. The problem is there are about 50 new pots of spaghetti boiling at any moment. The moment one sticks another box is thrown in and another pot set to boil. We just finished learning lines days ago, and as we catch our breath and begin to congratulate ourselves on a job well done, a new challenge arrives in the form of a wooden box carried like a baby from the doghouse. In it… a sextant. Can we throw them overboard? Apparently not, they cost about a 1000 doll hairs. Does that matter? Probably not, since they mean more celestial navigation. For anyone who has not had to calculate their location based on angles and about 1000 tiny little corrections and numerical adjustments all done out on paper where the smallest mistake may represent several nautical miles off course… count yourself lucky. To all our friends and family, wish us luck.

Shout out to my family! Love you and miss you all. (Mom- I forgot to finish my FASFA and transfer money into my checking account for car insurance… sorry! Tell Bob I miss him)

Abigail Clarke- Umass Amherst

-P.S (from Kate) Happy Birthday Emily I love you and miss you!

Apr

10

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Wednesday 10 April 2013
Position: 26°09.2’N x 072°50.4’W
Location: Sargasso Sea
Wind and Sailing Conditions: Easy Breezy, Sunny.

Image Caption: B Watch Represent

On a certain day of the week, the inhabitants of the Corwith Cramer— class of C246 and crew —are given a wonderful, often taken for granted gift: music. It seems like everybody on the ship plays some type of instrument. Some, admittedly, are better than others. But nothing can compare to the sweet, sweet sound of Big Pun or Katy Perry coming through speakers at unspecified volumes. This day is called field day. It is not like the field days I had in third grade, where I ran around playing games on my elementary school field and came home with goldfish that would either die the next day, or live to haunt me forever. Field day is an afternoon every Saturday where radios are plugged in around the ship, and everybody gets on their hands and knees to scrub every inch of it. It is exactly as much fun as it sounds. But standing out from field day, —which occurred sometime in the recent past (there is no conception of “days” on the ship—) these 24 hour periods are broken into constantly rotating, compartmentalized watches)—, is a moment that I might remember.

At the beginning of field day we received in-depth instructions on the proper way to clean the Corwith Cramer—with an emphasis put on scrubbing, which cleaning liquid to use for a specified surface, and which bucket that cleaner is found in. When it was time to refill my supply of something called Envirox, I went back on deck, and reached the appropriate bucket section at the same time as our captain, Elliot Rappaport, who participates in field day. Elliot, aside from his constant wardrobe of sandals (honestly I think he just forgot to bring shoes) carries himself much like a captain should. He is friendly, direct, refrains from fraternizing with the crew too much, and most importantly, rocks an awesome handlebar mustache—the likes of which I haven’’t seen since my father graduated from RISD. Elliot and I, in a moment of unbroken confusion, stood side by side staring at the unlabeled buckets of cleaner for a solid minute before speaking. In this moment, the relationship dynamics of both men vs. cleaning supplies, and captain and inferior crew member, came alive. He finally spoke and asked if I had any idea whatsoever. I replied, “I don’‘t know man, you’re the captain.” “Exactly,” he said with a chuckle. “I’’m the captain. How often do you think I clean?”

Tucker Watson
Saint Michael’s College, Burlington VT.

P.S. Mama, Dad, and Matt, I love and miss you guys, —can’’t wait to see you in St. Croix

Apr

09

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Tuesday 09 April 2013 at 1700 (5:00 pm)
Position: 25°38.1’N x 073°37.8’W
Location: Sargasso Sea
Wind and Sailing Conditions: Winds E at BF3, steering 167° PSC, making 6 knots

Image Caption: My duty in emergency: take the helm!

Started from my morning watch, we deployed a series of equipment for our oceanography projects, such as Phyto Net for zooplankton and phytoplankton, Secchi Disc for sunlight penetration, CTD for sea water feature, Hydrocast for water samples, and McLane Pump for live phytoplankton. It is fascinating to imagine how many sciences are going on on this small vessel, and how many data we collect for the research on shore.

During the past few days, I have been fighting with sea sickness from which I suffer since the second day. Sea Sickness is a monster. It takes out my passion and smiling face. I had all kinds of ridiculous dreams about how I finally go back on land and fictional scenes of my shipmates. Beautiful sea views, marine creatures, sail handling, nice shipmates, all of which I have been enthusiastic about seems grey, and the only thing I wanted to do is hiding in my bunk and sleep. I was so weak that I can hardly walked straight from bunk (bed) to head (bathroom). Fortunately, I am here with great people.

There are so many moving moments happening. Captain Elliot said “you will be fine, I promised”. Chief scientist Jeff made me a cup of honey tea. The 3rd mate Cassie brought me “holy cracker” and shared her 14 years sailing stories with me. Maia was always strict but encouraging me all the time. Lydia would explain things to me with patience even though I can hardly remember the overwhelming information with a sick mind. As the only man in my watch, I should be the one who does all the labor work.

Nevertheless, I was weak as a baby because of the sea sickness. Rachel will say “I can pull the halyard” during the sail handling, and “can I bring you some water” after I threw up. Sasha always says “you don’t feel well, let me do it”, and “princess” Charlotte always keep funny talking to make me feel better, although I could hardly reply her with a smiling face. Other shipmates also gave me a lot of comforts. Thank you all! In a conclusion, this is an awesome community. Now, my sea sickness still goes back and forth, however, with these shipmates, why can’t I make it?

Nuo Xu (Noah)
South China Normal University

PS: 예정민 나는 너가 보고싶어
My host family Patti and Don, I am on the rough sea and miss the comfort zone you provided me in TN.

For my beloved parents who cannot read English:
也许你们依然不能完全理解为什么我选择出海,但你们却毫无保留地支持我。能如此纵容
我的,全天下也只有你们。大伯说得对,出海很苦,但人生没有一帆风顺。当我独自一人在海浪
颠簸的船头深夜守望,陪伴我的只有满天繁星与呼啸海风,才真正体验到孤帆远影碧空尽。目及大风大浪,经历烈日暴阳,洗礼海潮巨浪,沉淀波澜壮阔。期待回归我壮哉威武大天朝与你们重
聚的日子。
感谢曾经照顾生病中的我的小猪。系呢度,拉斐尔,李华梅,丽璐,赫德拉姆,蒂雅,杏
太郎,伍丁,法雷尔,呢一串名,最沟能明我大航海时代梦想的泽同埋吕。遥想当年郑和下西洋
,扬我天朝神威震四方。

Apr

08

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Monday 08 April 2013 at 1645 (4:45 pm)
Position: 25°59.0’N x 074°23.9’W
Location: Sargasso Sea
Wind and Sailing Conditions: Winds ExN at BF4, steering 90°true, making 3.6 knots

Image caption: Preparing the tucker trawl for deployment while various students do yoga in the background.

Today started out with 0600 wakeups for A watch followed by a delicious breakfast of waffles and bacon (the stewards never cease to amaze us). The morning proved to be busy with various scientific deployments including the CTD, Secchi disk, and most exciting of all – the Tucker Trawl! Morning watch (A watch) deployed the second Tucker Trawl of the trip, which is used to collect various creatures at various depths. People on deck also kept busy, as we had to double-jibe to be able to deploy the scientific equipment.

Today marks our one-week anniversary of being aboard the Corwith Cramer and although we are only a week in, most of us are accustomed to life at sea. The watch schedule has become standard and now it does not seem weird to take sporadic four hour naps at any time during the day. The stewards are spoiling us with their scrumptious cooking and the bunk “mattresses” no longer seem uncomfortable. Today we were blessed with sunny skies and it was perfect day for sailing. We hope this weather continues, as the last couple of days have been wet and chilly. (Foul weather gear is such an essential!)

As mentioned yesterday, there was a line competition during class today. It was called a “line chase” and the watches (A, B, and C) were divided up to compete against each other in a relay race. In the beginning, the teams looked pretty even, however A watch dominated the competition and identified 29 lines in 15 minutes. We are now proud to say that we know our lines. During class we had our first “Creature Feature” presentations, all of which were extremely entertaining and creative. Abby and Tucker created a hands-on puzzle, while Vincent and Charlotte performed a song. The rest of the class will give their presentations tomorrow and on Wednesday. The rest of the day includes dinner, processing various samples, and preparing for evening watches.

Hannah Stafford
Colorado College

P.S. Shout out to my family, friends, and Trevor! Love you guys and missing you all!

Apr

07

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Sunday 07 April 2013 at 1900 (7pm)
Position:  26° 59.7’ N x 074° 43.4’ W
Location: Sargasso Sea
Wind and Sailing conditions:  Winds ENE at BF4, steering 140°psc, making 7 knots

Image caption:  Becca, Kate, and Tucker watch as dolphins play in Cramer’s bow wake. 

The day started with an early morning wake up from Abby at 0600, a member of A Watch, followed by a breakfast of home-made bagels and fresh grapefruit. B Watch had a busy morning with numerous scientific deployment and sail handling. While Kate and Alex were on the quarterdeck taking the helm, they spotted dolphins (Atlantic spotted dolphins in fact!) 1 point abaft the starboard beam, which swam along the bowsprit for quite some time. This mega fauna sighting was a nice change from the typical lab duties of handling small zooplankton collected in our daily net deployments.  However, it was soon back to work, learning lines for our watch vs. watch Line Chase competition happening tomorrow at 1430. No one knows what to expect however it is safe to say that B Watch will know where the Jib Halyard is (seeing as we accidentally cast it off and hauled the wrong line earlier today). I am sure you will hear of the results of this competition tomorrow. 

Without getting ahead of ourselves, today was quite an eventful day. During the afternoon we had the first ship’s Field Day, which entails scrubbing the ship from head to foot. Our sailing interns/ deckhands pumped us up with a great cleaning song before the ship filled with various music and candy encouragement. A Watch took on the galley, B Watch scrubbed down the main saloon while C Watch focused on the aft part of momma Cramer. This process took all hands for two hours and was followed by an involved and realistic fire drill. The whole process went smoothly seeing as everyone was prepared for his or her roles. Now we are off to eat dinner (pizza) and prepare for the night watches to come.

Becca Otley- Bates College

Ps. Jane we miss you!

Apr

06

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Saturday 06 April 2013, 1745
Position: 28° 12.1’’ N x 076° 14.8’’ W
Description of location: South Sargasso Sea
Heading: 110° True
Speed:  8 knots
Weather / Wind:  NNE force 6 winds

Photo caption: C watch deploys the Secchi Disk into the clear Sargasso Sea.

Not even in a perfect world would a single blog post suffice for the tales there are to tell of our voyage. Many people tried to explain to us on shore the inexpressibility of life at sea, and now we understand. We couldn’t have imagined this moment even a week ago: we sit in the library, the waves crashing against our porthole, Sasha strumming the banjalele (a combo banjo and ukelele) while we sail towards Dominica. We’ve seen stars above and bioluminescence below, and felt the 43 knot winds that blessed us in our first squall. We’re gradually getting our sea legs and sea stomachs.

Today we entered the Sargasso Sea, and our first Neuston Tow of the day was in fact chock-full of the algae Sargassum. The morning continued with many more deployments of scientific equipment, and we collected samples for everyone’s research projects. We accomplished this in part through some fancy line handling, including a double jibe. To get underway with all our new data, we struck the storm trysail, set the mainsail, and headed east.

One of the most striking parts of the experience so far has been the unique intensity of the ship as a learning environment. We are navigating a completely new geography, different customs, and a new language. The amount we have learned in the last days is incredible, and there is an infinite amount remaining.

Happy April to everyone ashore. We hope your skies are blue and your winds are fair.

Alex Cuadros—Broward College
Rachel Kaplan—Brown University

p.s. Sending lots of love to Mom, Dad, Camilla, all Dawes, the rest of the Six, Conor, Po, AK and Brown. Can’t wait to see you all again.

p.p.s. Alex is on watch right now, but I know she sends love to her mom, dad, John, Caitlin, and her cat!

Apr

05

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Friday 05 April 2013 16:51
Position: 28° 43.7’ N x 78° 15.2’ W
Location: Over 100 nautical miles east of Florida!
Heading: 090 True
Weather: Rainy

Photo Caption: Check out our Jib-furling skills!

What a week! (Not even)  It is crazy that it has only been four days, but we are having a blast. Today we have started are second rotation of watches, having been in every watch (dawn, morning, afternoon, evening, mid) once. Already today I have had morning watch, and class.  All of the crew are amazing, and today my watch, A watch, got to do its first real deployment of the science equipment, and jibe the ship in order to do so. We are the ones who manage the sails. Already I feel more confident about our own line handling, and I am sure that in a short time we will be able to do the necessary steps to prep for science deployments on our own. A Secchi disk, CTD, phytoplankton net, Niskin bottle, and dip net were all deployed once we got the sails under control.  By now I can honestly say that I think as a whole we have the basics covered!  The crew is making sure we remember the lines, allowing us to handle the sails more readily. The scientists are helping us get our projects underway, and we even had an oceanography project mentor meeting today during class.  The galley is making sure that we are all well fed!

Morning Watch is probably my favorite watch. Today’s was especially cool because Abby and I got to climb out in the head rig and furl the jib sail, while Vincent and Hannah got the deck and lab gear ready.  After the boat was hove-to the deployments could begin.  Meanwhile, boat checks, weather reports, position plotting, and standing lookout all continued unabated to keep the ship safe.  Morning Watch is six hours long, which made everyone extra ready for lunch as B watch comes and takes over.  Gimbled tables are life-savers. With the boat rolling along and all of us fumbling around trying to get our sea-legs, whatever is placed on the gimbled table stays level and does not slide around, whether it be food, or a lovely game of Bananagrams. 

Overall we have only been here for a short time, but it already feels like ages. I know more about the boat now from these four days than the entire shore component of preparation.  Everyone is loving it here, and I am too! Can’’t wait to tell you all the stories! Love you, my family of Schwartz’s!

Johanna Schwartz
Bard College at Simon’s Rock

Apr

04

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Thursday 04 April 2013
Position 28° 04.6’’ N x 079° 34.9’ ’W

Image caption: B watch (From left, Kate, Becca, Jordan) Furling the jib in preparation for scientific deployment.

Our day began at 0630 with a biscuit breakfast, homemade gravy and fresh fruit. From there B Watch (Becca, Tucker, Alex, and myself) under Kirsten (Second mate) Anne (Assistant scientist) and Jordan (Deckhand) headed on deck to begin Morning Watch. After reporting to the quarterdeck, our first task was to handle sail, and heave the ship to for a scientific deployment. Once on station, we used the main winch to lower the “Secchi disk” and CTD, both instruments to measure the productivity and physical characteristics of the water. A phytoplankton net was deployed near the surface. Over the course of the watch, the winds picked up dramatically, with waves averaging 6-8ft.

As the end of our watch grew near, the passage of a few squalls led us to strike the Mains’l, and in its place raise our Storm Trysail-another hands-on opportunity to become more familiar with line and sail handling. There are many other aspects of life at sea that we are becoming more comfortable with as we go- boat checks, hourly lab reports, taking the helm and the crazy watch schedule.

Overall we are all having a blast. The meals are amazing, and I have never had such gourmet snacks in my life. We are all getting acclimated to our cozy bunks and the constant rocking of the ship puts us to sleep quickly after a long day.

A quick hi goes out to my Mom, Dad, Tyler, my girls in California, Nicki, Morgan, and Matthew. Love you guys!

Kate Middleton
UMass Amherst

Apr

03

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Wednesday, 03 April 2013
Position: 25°52.4’ ’N x 080°00.9’ ’W
Description of location:  Entered Gulf Stream, Miami in the distance

Image Caption:  Afternoon class surrounding the neuston net aboard SSV Corwith Cramer. 

If I hadn’t been the person to write this blog post today, I almost wouldn’t have remembered that it’s only Wednesday! Upon my reflection for this post, it seems like much longer ago that we untied from the dock, but we have just passed the 24 hour mark of being out at sea. So much has happened since then!

Each of the Watch groups has rotated through a couple of watches. C Watch was on from 1900 to 2300 last night, which was neat because it started just as the sun was about to set and ended with a beautiful clear starry sky. There are stars between the stars as I’ve never seen before and I anticipate this to become more magnificent as we sail farther and farther away from land.

Up until this morning, we had been motoring, so it was very exciting to set some sails as C Watch was on Morning Watch from 0700-1300. We are all just starting to recognize what lines are used to raise what sails and where they are. With so many lines this seems a very daunting to me right now, but it is encouraging to see the experienced crew work, as they don’t have to question every rope they see. In addition to the sail handling, we are learning the science procedures. On lab watch today, we spent time deploying various scientific equipment:  the Shipek grab, a niskin bottle, the CTD, and a Secchi disk. My role as a “dancer” meant I guided the coordination between the hydrowinch controls, the J-frame, and checking in with our mate on Watch. One thing is for sure- every role, every line, sail, or piece of equipment has a special name, which eventually will become second nature to us, but as of now they sound like a foreign language.

After a delicious lunch, and a nap for me, it was all hands on the quarterdeck for class. With everyone in different places most of the day, it is nice to have everyone all together. It’s amazing to take a quick glance around and realize that sitting on deck, surrounded by ocean, with a small hand held white board is considered class. We’re not in a stuffy classroom without windows, but out in the world where our subject is happening all around us.

With that, I am headed for dinner and then straight to bed to rest up for Mid Watch, from 2300-0300.

Another time porcupines.

Sasha Giametti
Eckerd College

Apr

02

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Tuesday 02 April 2013
Position: 24°19.6’ ’N x 081°16.4’’ W
Description of location:  south of the Keys
Heading:  motor-sailing with staysails making 7 knots at 085°
Weather / Wind:  light NE breeze, scattered clouds

Image Caption:  The newly anointed crew of the SSV Corwith Cramer. 

I must say, it has been an auspicious start to the cruise C246; a sign of good things to come?  Knock on wood for all you superstitious folk out there –which includes me! Our day began at 0600 with morning wake-ups for all hands.  Not too bad considering what waited for them once all were dressed for the day… a hearty breakfast of pancakes with freshly whipped cream and fruit toppings.  On the side were myriad ‘sausage’ options of the meat and veggie variety.  With encouraging words from the professional crew the students then filled water bottles, donned their closed-toe shoes, secured their harnesses, lathered on sun screen, and made their way on deck for a full morning of training.  On the docket:  the infamous Boat Check (more on this later), engine room safety and orientation, operation of our hydrowinch and J-Frame, and a discussion of individual responsibilities during various emergency drills.  All of this training is required since the students are official members of the crew.  There are no passengers here.  In order to safely and successfully complete our ambitious sailing and scientific mission we need the help of each and every one of our students. 

By mid-morning we had worked up an appetite and the galley once again obliged with a delicious snack.  With the training complete we then practiced as a full crew, students and professional staff together, how to respond to a variety of emergency situations.  Captain Rappaport had us simulate a fire in the galley – and the crew responded with fire hoses, securing ventilation, handling sail and most importantly keeping track of all personnel.  Next, we practiced how to abandon ship – and the crew collected all the safety gear, learned to launch the life rafts and put on their immersion suits.  And finally, we practiced our response for a Man-Over-Board – and the crew deployed safety equipment, launched the rescue boat, and discussed how to handle sails and slow down the ship.  By mornings’ end each student realized the importance of their individual roles in keeping the entire ship safe.  For many this level of responsibility and accountability was unfamiliar and a bit scary.  But they were now ready for it. 

Ultimately the most important lesson learned from the morning was this– prevention is our best option.  And suddenly it all made sense, that is why we spend so much time learning about the Boat Check.  The infamous Boat Check which happens every hour – day and night for the next six weeks –where one crew member is responsible for walking through the entire ship looking for a whole host of safety concerns and confirms that all is well. With these important lessons learned we were ready to set sail; and that we have done, and in fine order.  By 1430 (2:30PM) we had cast off the dock lines, set the staysails, steered our way past Key West, and made our way offshore, beyond the sight of land!  The winds are light, so right now we are motor-sailing.  But the seas are calm and the crew is comfortably getting their sea legs.  Our first destination is the Florida Current or Gulf Stream. The swift flow of this current, as it wraps around Florida, will help carry us to the north past the Bahamas before we head east into the Sargasso Sea. 

Already we have noticed a dramatic change in water color as the oceans deepen, the number of recreational vessels around us has dwindled, and the amount of Sargassum weed and flying fish has increased.  An hour ago we had our first sightings of dolphins with many more to come I am certain (knock on wood!).  And to think, all of this has happened before the first dinner bell has rung. 

The crew has now started a rotation of Watches (A, B, and C Watches) made up of students and professional staff that will run day and night for the next six weeks. So please come back and join us for the days and weeks ahead, our adventure has just begun and there is so much to learn!

Chief Scientist Jeffrey M. Schell

Apr

01

C246 - Ocean Exploration

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Monday 01 April 2013
Position: 24° 33.9’N x 081° 48.0’W
Description of location:  Alongside, Trumbo Annex dock in Key West, FL

Image Caption:  The professional crew of the Corwith Cramer (1st Scientist Maia, Sailing intern Lydia, and 3rd Mate Cassie) introduce themselves to the students - Sasha and Rachel. 

Key West is a famously busy place, a vortex of T-shirt shops, pink taxicabs, and escaped adults all whirling at the tail end of US 1. It’s all visible in the distance, just across from our dock at the Trumbo Point Navy Base, though as the ship wakes up at 0600 for breakfast things are still quiet. We’re about an hour away from the roar of charter boat engines and seaward files of Pelicans that mark the start of the typical day here.

The students and crew of class C-246 have all arrived in good order, save a sunburn or two, and will be spending much of today on ship and safety orientations before our planned departure for sea at 1400. It’s a busy time, charged with the anticipation of sailing, and filled with bits of information best processed before we undertake the larger challenge of taking the ship offshore. This is how you set the table. This is how you check the fuel level in the day tank. Always keep your safety harness adjusted, and never coil a line counterclockwise. This computer screen is where you read data from the acoustic Doppler current profiler. We’ve already done some sampling by hand in the intertidal zone, and some unlucky captive mollusks are brooding uncertainly in the lab aquarium.

Upon departure, our route will take us east along the keys, then north up the Straits of Florida towards Cape Canaveral and east into the Sargasso Sea. The weather looks favorable for the next few days, which should help folks get their sea legs amidst relatively settled conditions. Scientific work will begin immediately, with surface samples and a sediment collection north of Miami.

Watch this space, as they say, for daily updates from the ship, and a happy spring to all ashore.

Captain Elliot Rappaport

Mar

28

C246 - Ocean Exploration

Thursday 28 March 2013

The students of C-246 have finished their shore component in Woods Hole, MA. They are scheduled to board the Corwith Cramer in Key West, FL by Monday April 1st and will finish their voyage in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, around May 8th.