SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
0600 Everything within me is cold. Despite the insulation that surrounds me, I can feel the lower temperatures within swaying to the tune the swells dictate. My sleep was light and infrequent and the hope of rest is a small glimmer residing into the horizon.
Three days in port, now once again the crew of the SSV Corwith Cramer is taking turns standing watch on deck as we sail our ship towards the French Exclusive Economic Zone off Guadeloupe. The port stop in Dominica was rich in many ways. The locals opened up to the students allowing them to acquire valuable information for their projects and gain unique insight into the lives, economy and culture of this Eastern Caribbean nation.
Our second day in Dominica consisted of a field trip to the Kalinago territory led by our tour guide Patrice. The Kalinago are the indigenous people from Dominica. We took a bumpy car ride that took about an hour to get us to the other side of the island, but offered stunning views of the mountainous and vegetative island. Our first stop on the tour was at David’s Cassava Bakery! Here we learned about the history of the vegetable as a native staple and how the technological advancements in David’s shop helped popularize cassava into a ready-made food that he could quickly make into bread for sale.
This morning at 0800 SSV Corwith Cramer anchored off of Portsmouth, Dominica! It was an exciting moment for our class as we successfully completed the first leg of our trip and were able to step on land for the first time in six days (a few of us noted that this was by far the longest amount of time we had ever spent not on land).
So far, I have had the joy of having a few hours at the helm of the ship. It is a powerful moment in my general watch duties because it gives me the power of navigation; the ability to take our vessel to where ever we may desire. With this power comes some of the boats eccentricities. The steering is not as smooth as one might expect.
I could hardly believe it when Jeff reminded me that today – Friday – was my turn to write this blog. It’s hard to believe we’ve already been sailing for that many days. In my mind, all of the hours of the past few days have blurred together into one very, very long day, broken up by very satisfying naps. However, the passage of time is very evident not only by our movement through the clear blue Caribbean waters, but by the weathering skin and tired eyes of all of those aboard Mama Cramer.
Sunrise at sea. A patchwork of cumulous clouds drape across the sky, infused with early morning color. Off in the distance, land, a new island for us, from the chart I learn it is Saba Island – part of the Dutch Antilles.
Long, deep swells gently roll in from the north reminding us, ever so subtly, that the sea sometimes can be angry and may one day be so for us. For now however, we can be thankful for the comfortable seas.
The sea voyage for program C-271, Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean, has now officially begun. Thirteen students from nine different American colleges and universities are now appropriately oriented to their new mobile home, the Corwith Cramer, and they all took part in the casting off of dock lines that got the ship moving out of our berth in Gallows Bay and into the Caribbean Sea. Spirits were high and there was plenty of good, hard work done by all to get our sails set and the ship properly ordered for the first leg of this voyage.
All C-271 students are safely aboard SSV Corwith Cramer here in Gallows Bay, St. Croix. This evening, we conducted some orientation training and safety discussions to make sure everyone is comfortable aboard our fine vessel. After a wonderful dinner provided by our steward, Kate, students are now finishing up packing into their bunks and starting to get sleepy.
The students of C-271, Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean, will join the SSV Corwith Cramer in St. Croix by February 14th. They will depart in Key West around March 25th, after port stops in Dominica, Samana, Port Antonio and Santiago de Cuba.