SEA Currents: celestial navigation
So Here We Are
“SO, here we are, running before the wind under the topsail and course…” Jesse, sailing intern and current C watch J-WO says to A watch clustered around him on the quarterdeck. His voice comes from a silhouette plastered against a backdrop of stars. “The wind is from the East, force 4. Course ordered is 300 degrees….” he continues. And so began last night’s evening watch.
First day of shadow phase
Dear Family and Friends,
First of all, I would like to start by explaining how surreal this experience truly is. With seasickness long gone, we can now experience and understand the wonders of the sea. The ability to walk on deck at any hour of the day and see nothing but deep blue sea and perfectly clear horizon is an incredible unprecedented experience for me. With no light pollution for hundreds of miles, you are able to see everything from ships in the far distance to a perfect celestial sphere in the night sky.
My day started at 00:30, when I woke up to Veronica whispering my name. Twenty minutes later, I was standing on the deck in the moonlight ready for dawn watch. On the northern horizon, we could barely see the dark stripe that was the island of Nikumaroro. There is a particular spot by the island where we wanted to do our scientific sampling, but we planned to approach it during the day. So we had a pretty unusual watch, in that we were hove to (stopped) all night, drifting slowly with the wind.
Lessons from Night Watch
After a particularly damp and dreary night watch, I thought I’d spend a few minutes sharing my newly acquired nuggets of wisdom on…
Life Lessons Learned on Night Watch: Tips and Tricks for Surviving 7pm to 1am
- Memorize the lines before dark – Knowing which ropes to haul or ease is imperative for smooth sailing. If you don’t know which line is which when you can see them, imagine how much harder it is when you can’t. Memorize your lines before the sun goes down.
According to Captain Nolan, every sea-story should begin with “There I was….”
There I was…standing on the starboard edge of the quarterdeck, I was overtaken by a surging feeling of immense smallness looking out at the ocean at night, surrounded on all sides by the huge expanse of the central Pacific with a magnificent tapestry of stars.
Sailing and Science under the Stars
My day started and ended under the stars. The day technically began watching a triple stack of nets go down to 100 meters for one last sampling from the South Sargasso Sea. As Marie mentioned before, there’s a certain amount of coordination (which we all sometimes lack) required to set up a wire deployment at night, hoping you don’t knock anything overboard or trip over anything. Even with these difficulties, there is something about science under the stars that is pretty unreal.
An Island of Our Own
It was the beginning of dawn watch. And everyone knows that dawn watch is the birth place of deep and somewhat ridiculous thoughts. But on this dawn watch, I was on the struggle bus. I was at the helm, staring intently at the red light on the compass, trying to keep the ship I was trusted with on course. Scott was giving us an evening star lesson, where all of us gaped at the expansive and wondrous celestial sphere. No light pollution, no limits in how long our horizon could run. We were discussing the naming of stars and who figured out what is where in our galaxy when Scott mentioned that plankton and planets have the same root word- meaning wanderer.
Another day has come and gone aboard the Cramer. I can’t believe we’ve been at sea for almost two weeks already! It was a warm and beautiful sunny day, although a strong twenty knot wind producing six to eight foot waves had some feeling unwell. Our watch group (B) was supposed to undergo a training for going aloft onto the fore mast today, but the rough sea state prevented us from doing so. I spent the afternoon in lab with Maggie and Grayson, our assistant scientist, counting microplastics and identifying zooplankton and Sargassum fauna from our morning station Neuston tow.
En Route to Bermuda
Every day since we boarded the Cramer it has been a process of learning, overcoming and achieving. Today, while every team works on their research projects with a different organism, I’m sure I speak for most of my shipmates when I say that this experience has been an opportunity to appreciate the world in a different way, conceive the ocean as a vast and living organism hiding life in every droplet of water, where everything is tightly related. For us, this has revealed a new vision of the ocean.
“Wow, what an exciting day!” – me, every day
There truly is no limit to the excitement on board here. I especially felt this way today, which also happens to be my favorite schedule. We (B/Best watch) had night watch last night (1900-0100), meaning we got a semi-normal night sleep and then the whole morning until lunch free to ourselves. For me, that meant starting off with an awesome breakfast quiche made by Angel, even though I slept right through 0700 breakfast (she’s the sweetest).