SEA Currents: The Global Ocean: Europe
Las Palmas is the main commercial port of the Canary Islands, formed by a giant panhandle of poured concrete and filled land that juts off the northeastern shore of Grand Canary. The weather’s been a bit unsettled since we got here, and passing clouds hide the landscape, but when it’s clear you can see the olive-green bulk of the island rising up over town, conical and crenellated and unmistakably volcanic.
Just a few short hours ago, we arrived with all hands on deck into Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, and with the securing of the Corwith Cramer’s dock lines to the pier we marked the end of our six-week journey that started with program activities in Barcelona, a bustling port with crowded streets, and then Mallorca, with its stunning landscape and tourist amenities, and then finally on to the Atlantic port of Cadiz, a smaller urban area than Barcelona but one with a deep and rich history that lived up to expectations, particularly when we decided it was prudent to spend some extra time there rather than push on to Madeira.
I had been struggling to articulate how I have been feeling as the winds carry us closer to the end of our journey. I am unsure how the life I have lived aboard the Cramer will translate to life on shore. Even though we all know how to plot a course, account for variance, wind strength and the tides most of us still have no idea where our lives will take us, but I think that is okay. Over the last 1,600 nautical miles we have all learned about leadership, self-management, selflessness, independence, unity, dependability, and community.
Have you ever been so excited you felt sick? That is what life is often like on the Corwith Cramer. Every single day, watch, hour is filled with something new and exciting. Why you ask? Is it because we are on a tall ship sailing through the Mediterranean and the Atlantic? Is it because we are learning to sail that tall ship through the Mediterranean and the Atlantic? Is it because we are sailing and doing science through the Mediterranean and the Atlantic?
Ship, shipmate, self. This short phrase was seared into my mind at the beginning of this trip but I have only just noticed how it has slowly seeped and soaked into all aspects of my life onboard the Corwith Cramer. It is the guiding principle of ship life and it has many layers of meaning to those who experience it. Simply, it means you put the ship first, shipmates second, and yourself third. It is meant to emphasize safety and create a common goal. As a sailor, your primary duty is to take care of the ship. If she is not functioning right or well, it affects everyone onboard in both small and large ways.
Today is the first day of November, and lots of things are happening here aboard the Corwith Cramer. We have started our J-LO/ J-WO phase of the program. You may be surprised to learn that this is not a phase for the appreciation of actress, singer, superstar Jennifer Lopez, but rather stands for Junior Lab Officer/ Junior Watch Officer. What this means is that the student assigned to the task of either J-WO or J-LO during watch is responsible for much of the operation of the ship.
I am having the conventional difficulty of trying to convey an immersive experience, where sharing the chronology of the day, the what happened is an entire entity, and conveying the sense of the boat, the what it is like is something else entirely. In an effort to achieve a happy medium, I am including a little of both.
A Watch (Feldman - 3rd Mate) relieves C Watch (Sleeper - 2nd Mate) sailing under a single reefed mains’l, stays’ls, jib, tops’l, and raffee (aka Party Hat), running on a port tack. Couse ordered 240 deg psc, steering by and large at 220 deg psc. Winds NE Beaufort Force 3, seas ENE 3feet.
Cooking on the ship can be very different from cooking on land. There are many unusual factors that influence what we can and cannot make. Some are obvious: we only have an oven and stove, we can only re-supply when we get to a port, we have limited storage space.
Some reasons are not as obvious.
There is this notion that humans are inexplicably drawn to the sea. This attraction is the explanation for the settlement of cities, the rise in tourism etc. Whether you believe this or not, the notion exists. I propose another notion, we at SEA are inexplicably drawn to overlooks - we crave a bird’s eye view of a city, of the ocean of whatever. We crave a new perspective.