SEA Currents: Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean
Today has been an exciting day aboard the Cramer, with whale sightings, whale calls, music and an art gallery. The day started during my night watch (2300-0300). It was a lovely watch with the usual bioluminescence under the bow and a great deal of shooting stars. After a bit more sleep I went on deck to discover there had been a large number of humpback whales and Heather our resident whale sound expert with the help of Molly and Amina had gotten recordings of their sounds.
The Freshness of Dominica:
When you find yourself in the natural harbor of Portsmouth you cannot ignore the dense wall of green the volcanic mountains created by Dominica. They scream to the weary sailor, “YOU ARE HERE AND YOUR TOILS HAVE PAID OFF!” Dominica is not the kind of country I was expecting at all. It was so lively; within five minutes of being on land I saw a scooter doing wheelies in the street. A small insignificant event to probably everybody around me but for some reason it warmed my heart.
When I realized that it was my turn to write the blog, I will admit that I felt rather daunted as to what I would write about. There has been so many different moments throughout this trip that anyone would be hard pressed to figure out what to say. While my parents would probably love for me to wax on about all of them, I feel that the best option would be to keep myself limited to the most manageable of them, as this would also keep me from talking too much.
Today as I start my blog post, I think back to our amazing port stop in Dominica. This was not an island I had heard of before I came to SEA Semester, but while on it I fell in love with its mountainous terrain and natural wonders. I was walking with a group of friends, Michaela (Big Mike), Maddy, Lukas, and Will, when a man came up to us and offered us a tour to go see a waterfall. Maybe it’s the atmosphere of being in an entirely new place, but on a whim our group accepted the tour of this licensed guide.
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.