SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
C251 Web Blog - 16 March 2014
15° 20’ 24.00” N x 61° 46’ 07.20” W
West of Guadeloupe in Moderate Trade Wind Conditions
Poet Derek Walcott once compared the Lesser Antilles to peas on a tin plate, and he was right. These past weeks, they have been sliding by, first to leeward, and now upwind of us as we make our return journey to the north and west. Tall green volcanic masses of trees and cloud, sitting on the silver sea, they are sized and spaced with a uniformity that is surprising to anyone who isn’t a geologist.
Rita Harrison, our scientific observer, is from St. Lucia, and points out details as we sail past her home island.. there the jagged “Pitons”, together possibly the most photographed landscape feature in the Caribbean. Her own village, and the hillside that will be used for Tsunami drills on the weekend she returns. At the north end, Castries, the big city where the cruise ships go, and you can find an Indian restaurant if you want one.
Martinique, where we can hear French on the radio from shore stations, and Dominica, piled high with cumulus. Fishermen in small open boats circle their gear, startlingly far offshore, where moored rafts are sometimes set in the deep water with the hope of attracting fish. The boats all look similar at a distance, too. Sturdy Pangas with Yamaha outboards, 2 or 3 men in straw hats and identical oilskins who may wave hello and shout the name of their island if we pass close enough. Rita says they might burn 60 gallons of fuel in a day of looking for fish.
It got dark about an hour ago, and as we sail into the lee of Guadeloupe I can sit at the desk in my cabin and feel the ship stand up straight, and begin to slow down as the wind eases. The air coming through my hatch is cool, for the first time today. Any time now, I’ll hear the steps on the ladder that indicate someone from the watch is on their way down to discuss a plan for the evening.
Students are running the watches now, and most other chores aboard, with a smoothness that is only unbelievable if you remind yourself that we began this voyage only a month ago. A remarkable commitment of energy, talent, and flexibility by everyone aboard has made C251 a tremendous trip so far.
PS: to Gabrielle’s Mom: Happy Birthday! With love, -G