SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
Today has truly been one of the best days of the entire trip! After many days of squalls and light winds, we welcomed today’s sunshine and breezes. While the weather was gorgeous, the absolute highlight of the day occurred in the afternoon when we came within half a nautical mile of the Sea Cloud, a tall ship that was docked quite near the Cramer while in Las Palmas at the start of our voyage. The Sea Cloud is a 117 meter sail-cruise vessel currently carrying 50 passengers and 60 crew members to Bridgetown, Barbados.
We have turned to the west! Since leaving the Canaries, we have been working our way generally to the south and west, plowing our way through the Canary Current that flows down the northwest coast of Africa, crossing through the corner of the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre that lies in the center of North Atlantic, and now we find ourselves in a new “general locale” (as we call it in lab!): the North Equatorial Current. This current, along with the easterly to northeasterly trade winds will (knock on wood) take us across the 15th parallel of northern latitude on our way to the Caribbean.
“Ship. Shipmates. Self.” This is the sailor’s mantra, an old adage of the sea passed down by generations of seamen who were able to make it ashore. I suspect that crews who did not heed these words to take care of their one home were not as fortunate. Without the collective help from each of our 29 members aboard the Cramer, we would not have made it this far along our journey, officially having passed the halfway point across the Atlantic!
As a Dane on an American vessel in the middle of the Atlantic you get so many great and funny cultural experiences. Last night, celebrating Thanksgiving and 1st Advent at the same time, was so much fun and I must admit that I felt a bit extra tired when I woke up today. Maybe that was why the heat hit me so hard. A thousand degrees at least. That was what I expected when I looked at the thermometer for yet another hourly.
In case you’re wondering why there was no mention of Thanksgiving last Thursday, it’s because we’re celebrating today instead. With all the galley preparations that needed to happen, it was much easier to coordinate everything on a Sunday when there’s no formal class to break up the afternoon. Watch rotations never stop though, so even Thanksgiving dinner is served twice to get everyone fed. There was one change for the special day: the first seating of dinner started at 1800 instead of 1820 to give us a little more time to enjoy the food and fellowship.
The day dawned with some squall lines, but quickly cleared for C Watch after we took the deck and lab. In lab, we finished some batch nutrient processing; getting data from all of our stations so far in one big push of chemistry and spectrophotometry that requires pausing the usual deployment schedule. I celebrated with Arthur and John when we ran the last sample in lab, signifying the end of 16 hours of intense labor for the scientists and students.The day dawned with some squall lines, but quickly cleared for C Watch after we took the deck and lab. In lab, we finished some batch nutrient processing; getting data from all of our stations so far in one big push of chemistry and spectrophotometry that requires pausing the usual deployment schedule. I celebrated with Arthur and John when we ran the last sample in lab, signifying the end of 16 hours of intense labor for the scientists and students.
Time is a tricky thing in the middle of the ocean and it gets prioritized starting with watch standing, sleeping, schoolwork, and free time. The watch schedule controls your sleep schedule, which over the course of three days is as much as you can get. The next amount of allotted free time is spent working on research projects and individual homework assignments. After those three main items are checked off in the course of the day you have earned yourself some free time! It isn’t much but some of the best memories are made during these times.
Can a day end any better than by sitting on the spreaders, watching flying fish and enjoying the endless blue? After two days and nights with squalls and lightning, the sun finally found her way back to us! The wind is blowing constantly but from the wrong direction for us, so we spend another day motor-sailing. Strategies of how to get the wind to be more cooperative are frequently discussed - so far without success. As a sailor from the Baltic Sea, I am used to tacking a lot and frequently getting the wind on the nose…but I wasn’t expecting to have this problem in the tropics!
It’s hard to believe that this group of students joined the ship less than two weeks ago. They’ve come such a long way in a short amount of time: They have all successfully learned the lines on Cramer, from the much-used main halyard to less commonly used fisherman peak jigger. They have all driven and/or called a scientific deployment, processed a net tow, and plotted sun lines on our navigational charts using angles shot on a sextant.
What an experience. The way the watch cycle works really creates a whole new concept of time! Sleeping at night is no longer a thing, and eating six meals a day is now a habit. This morning, B Watch (Hannah, Rob, Stefani, Gabrielle, Sabrina and I) took control of the ship from 7 am to 1 pm. After a delicious lunch I was able to play guitar on the deck for the first time. We definitely do not have much free time here: If you aren’t on watch, eating or playing with a sextant for a homework assignment, you’re probably sleeping.