SEA Currents: Apr 2014
These last couple days in Hilo have been crazy. At 10:15 yesterday morning many shipmates awoke to the Big Island of Hawaii as we let the anchor down. After many small boat runs and a little dock rock, passports were stamped and we were officially welcomed back into the United States! It was strange at first to see traffic lights and the McDonalds on the corner. Even driving down the road was bizarre, but we adjusted quickly with thoughts of volcanoes in our minds.
Today at the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park we were all amazed to walk through the craters (especially all of our geology majors)! The unique patterns made by the lava and the steam still emerging from the rock were enough to make us all geek out.
Hello People of the Land,
What an incredible day for the Cramerites in Bermuda! Although we rose early, we eagerly rode the bus to the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo (BAMZ) where we boarded their boat. To do what you may ask? To go snorkeling off of the northern coral reefs.
These last few days, watching the students plot our position nearer and nearer to the Big Island, I would note the return of little things that meant ‘shore’: radio static, an airplane flickering five miles up at night, and just barely on our side of the horizon - another ship. Small pieces that mean nothing until you’ve left the lights and calls thousands of miles behind and weeks in your wake. I assumed I would keep collecting these small reminders of shore until I saw the first speck of land creep up out of the ocean and I would watch it grow as we approached. I was wrong. I woke up this morning and there was a huge island like a mural taking up my horizon from the port beam to the starboard beam!
Greetings from Bermuda! Its our tenth day-no wait, our third day in Bermuda?! The students had yesterday afternoon off, some ventured away to find Wi-Fi, others explored the small town of St. Georges where we are docked. A handful of us took a taxi to Clearwater bay to explore the beaches and parks. From the center of St. Georges we caught two cabs to Clearwater Beach, which is on the other side of the bay. If you have heard anything about Bermuda it is probably one of two things: the beautiful beaches and the extremely nice people.
Tonight is a very special and long anticipated night aboard Mama Seamans. For one thing, we are finally within 100 miles of our final destination, Hilo! 100 miles is still farther offshore than many people ever get in their lives, Chief Mate Jay reminded us during safety drills today, however, it seems tantalizingly close compared to the thousands of miles of open ocean we once had between us and our port. All day and all evening the crew and students (now done with final project work!) have been on deck, looking for the Big Island on the horizon. After many days of barreling at 8 knots under various exciting sail plans, we finally lost our wind a bit and have turned to motorsailing to get us to Hawaii on time to do some exploring.
Today began our weeklong series of tours in Bermuda, starting with the organization that helped coordinate our safe entry into St. Georges harbor: Bermuda Radio.
Bermuda Radio operates 24/7, 365 days a year to coordinate all ship traffic, respond to maritime emergencies, and update weather/seas conditions for the waters in and around Bermuda.
Good evening! Our good friend Robbie, and resident Bermudian on the Cramer, taught us that some version of the phrase good morning good afternoon or good evening is the required salutation to keep in style and good standing with the local people. In our first 6 hours of free time on solid ground, it has proven itself true. Bermudian culture is surprisingly formal but following proper manners results in overwhelmingly friendliness smiles, waves, and greetings for all.
We’ve had quite the week aboard the Seamans! Six days ago we shut down the main engine and have been flying towards Hawaii (stopping here and there to do a little science, of course) on a starboard tack ever since. The trade winds picked up to a Force 7 (28-33 kts) for a few days and brought with them swells twice as tall as I am that surged higher than the quarterdeck at times. Apart from making any attempt at walking below decks quite comical, the winds and seas have made for an exciting (and nerve-wracking) JWO phase!
“You’re not the same person that walked aboard on March 22” were the words written by Captain in our night orders. This simple phrase lingered with me as I stepped onto the deck ready to take over as the JWO for the night. It made me think that sometimes it’s hard to recognize change when it’s gradual, that is, until you take a step back and reflect at how far you’ve come. If one month ago someone told me I would confidently lead my shipmates through gybing a brigantine, I would have thought they were absolutely crazy (Oh wait, they did say that).
Just as we’re finally catching on to this whole life-at-sea thing, we’re thrown a new curveball: arrival in Bermuda! We are here one day early according to our itinerary, mainly because we made good time from San Juan and the weather forecast isn’t looking great for the next couple of days. We receive daily weather faxes while out at sea, so we’ve been tracking the southward progress of a significant cold front coming south from the East Coast. Predicted high winds and seas didn’t sound particularly peachy next to the option of an extra day in a calm port, so we motor sailed out of yesterday’s hove to position into Bermuda this afternoon.