SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
A Final Day Underway
28° 26.8’N x 15° 10.5’W
Almost at Gran Canaria!
A clear and windy night, just after a beautiful sunset
Today was bittersweet as Class C-262 experienced our full last day underway on the Cramer. The day began like every other, meaning we all awoke at different times –some of us for watch, others after mid-watch which ended at 0300-- and with varying levels of tiredness. We did what work remains with impending (or passed, whoops) due dates and we ate our last week-in-review lunch featuring leftovers from this weeks meals. We had class, we discussed our plans to come into port tomorrow, and we went about our afternoons. Today was a day like any other underway, except that we were all painfully aware that it was the last time we would be doing many of the things we had spent weeks learning how to do and that had become second nature to us. The last time at lookout, the last hour at the helm, the last boat check—all these thoughts passed through my mind as I completed my last afternoon watch as part of our rotation. Tomorrow morning’s dawn watch will be my last watch as Junior Lab Officer, and at 0800 we will muster on deck for general quarters to make our way into port and our last day on the Cramer will begin.
It’s hard to believe that six weeks have passed (I know, I’ve said this every blog post) and I’ve started to wonder how I’ll have changed once I’ve packed my things and stepped off the Cramer on November 8. Will I go home and cut corners off sponges to correspond with where they are used?
Will I wake my parents up at 0600 and tell them they have breakfast in 20 minutes and watch at 0700? Will I turn my oven on at 0330 because it needs two hours to warm up? These are probably the less likely scenarios I’ve considered that might result from my time at sea. I am sure that I will continue to tie bowline knots (they’re so strong and versatile!) and I will be a pro at fitting my belongings into any small space. I’ll be more confident in delegating tasks and knowing when to ask for help, and I’ll be able to identify any and every kind of cloud I see in the sky. I’ll be able to explain what eutrification and hypoxia mean and what its like to look at a British territory and Spain on your right only to turn your head to see Morocco on your left. I’ll know what its like to taste Mahi mahi that was caught 30 minutes prior in the Atlantic and I’ll know that I can get through almost anything if I set my mind to it and trust myself. I’m sure there are lots of things I’ll forget about this time in my life, but these are just a few things I know I’ll never forget.
We’ve come a long way as a class and though I’m excited to move on to what I call “Phase IV” (traveling, seeing friends and family, enjoying Thanksgiving back in Chicago) I already feel nostalgic for the time I spent at sea with 29 other people working 24 hours a day with no days off to ensure the ship we call home keeps going. These last six weeks were in no way a breeze, and there were rarely moments where I wasn’t exhausted, worried about being late to watch, scrubbing soles or washing dishes, or trying to figure out when I would have time and not feel seasick enough to get some work done. There were many days where I thought I was crazy to have done this program and where I was down to my last nerve with just about everything that went into being a student on the Cramer.
Today as I was at lookout thinking about when I would be able to wrap up my projects and complete my final LDE journal entry, I saw something jump out of the corner of my eye. I looked over the bow on the starboard side and saw between five and ten dolphins surfacing and jumping, coming toward the hull. As a ship full of cetacean-lovers, we always notify the rest of our watch and whoever’s awake when we have a dolphin or whale sighting. But just before I yelled “Dolphins! Dolphins!”, I enjoyed the last time that I’d be looking out at the Atlantic Ocean, watching dolphins make their way toward me and took in that moment. Once we all knew there were dolphins bow riding, we watched as a mixed pod of about 100 dolphins rode with us against the backdrop of Gran Canaria in the distance. That final dolphin sighting, as a crew, on the last full day underway really brought this experience into perspective. Was it hard? Absolutely. Was it worth it? I’d say so.