SEA Currents: celestial navigation
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).
The Beginning of the End
Hello world! To you, it’s Day 26 of our ocean voyage…but our watch rotations make for 18-hour days, so today feels more like Day 35 for us. It’s been one crazy rollercoaster ride having weathered out the effects of two cyclones but thankfully, the weather has finally steadied up a bit and both air and water temperatures are on the rise as we go farther north. Also, we broke 3000 nm today and are currently within 150 nm to the island of Raivavae!!!
Lost and Found at Sea
Growing up, I prided myself on having a decent sense of direction. I generally played the role of “navigator” with whomever I hiked, drove, or ran with. I figured that coming into SEA Semester I would be able to transfer this ability and that hopefully it would help compensate for my complete lack of knowledge re: anything having to do with boats.
Almost Land Ho!
Hello to those reading this!
We are currently sailing under a beautiful waxing gibbous moon. It is shining just bright enough that most stars are not as visible as they usually are. Tonight is an interesting one; I can feel many mixed emotions - stress to meet the deadline of our final research paper and excitement to reach Dominica in the next two days. A bet has been made for when we expect to see land and the winner gets to shout “Land ho!” As you can see, these are some pretty high stakes we’re betting for.
Sailing by the Stars, Wind and Seas
We are more than 24 hours into our non-instrument run, and hence the unavailable current position. Hopefully the stars, wind, and seas have been guiding us correctly to our port stop in Dominica, soon to appear in a few short days! Just a month ago, most of us had never even set foot on a sailing ship; tonight, we are the ones steering the helm and calling the sail plans, all without the help of a compass or GPS. Of course, then there is the slim chance of making landfall on a different island or continent altogether.
Turning West with New Challenges Ahead and the Stars Above
We have turned to the west! Since leaving the Canaries, we have been working our way generally to the south and west, plowing our way through the Canary Current that flows down the northwest coast of Africa, crossing through the corner of the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre that lies in the center of North Atlantic, and now we find ourselves in a new “general locale” (as we call it in lab!): the North Equatorial Current. This current, along with the easterly to northeasterly trade winds will (knock on wood) take us across the 15th parallel of northern latitude on our way to the Caribbean.