SEA Currents: sailing
Birthday at Sea
Good morning from the SSV Corwith Cramer!
On Sunday, February 5, a pod of dolphins surfed our bow wake at sunrise.
Moonbows and Neuston Tows
Imagine a rainbow made of varying shades of silver extending completely across the night sky. I had no idea that this, to which we coined the term “moonbow,” existed before I saw it last night. We had just sailed through some squalls during our evening watch; it was raining, and the boat was getting knocked around in the waves, making lab work difficult to say the least. Suddenly, the storm passed and everything was calm until Gracie busted through the lab door shouting, “Guys! There’s a rainbow. AT NIGHT!”
Man the Braces, Let’s Gybe
Today was quite a fun, busy and educationally competitive day. ‘B watch’ began the day by relieving the dawn watch A at 0700. The morning was on the rough side as we began our day by sailing through 10-12 foot swells. Due to the fact that the ride was quite rocky it held challenging conditions for deploying science equipment off of the port side science deck. However, nothing holds a true scientist from researching and learning.
In the Island’s Lee
Today we continued sailing along the southern coast of Puerto Rico. We sailed southeast for most of the day, allowing for the deployment of all of the science gear, including the Secchi disk. The Secchi disk looks exactly like a white dinner plate, but instead of holding food, it is super science-y and awesome. The disk allows us to calculate light penetration into the water, which in turn gives us information about phytoplanktons’ preferred depth.
Learning the Boat
Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. We got to work a lot on sail handling, and on learning the names and locations of things in general. We started by putting the main’sl up and all the lines associated with this: the halyard, the downhaul, and the sheet. It’s very fun for me to see the different sail plans and names for things as I am a collegiate and much smaller boat sailor. My arms are a little tired today as there are no self-tailing winches or blocks with cleats, and the traveler takes at least three people to operate.
The clock struck 0000 to begin the day early this morning, marking the halfway point of S-269’s journey aboard the Seamans. As Captain Amster would say, time is a funny thing. Yet the boat must be sailed, and so the crew does not stand on ceremony as we set our sights on Fiji. One of the most incredible aspects of this journey is the opportunity that it affords us to live in the moment, and as such we aboard the Seamans do not often dwell on memories of the past or prospects of the future.
It happens every day…
Since departing Tonga we’ve seen some beautifully clear skies, and therefore had opportunity for the first few star frenzies of the trip. You—dear reader—might well ask, “What the heck is a star frenzy?” and you would not be alone; many students were asking the same question mere hours ago here aboard Seamans. Some of those students are now veterans of two star frenzies, and already eager for more.
Time is a social construct . . .
It’s difficult to write about days here, because a standard day does not exist. This is not a 9-5 job, this is not class from 10-12, this is not a day of 24 hours. It’s funny how important and irrelevant time can be, given the right circumstances.
If I want to write about my day, we need to consider: when did my day begin?
I awoke on day 2 of our second sailing leg to a pink haze of sunrise off the port beam and a nice breeze blowing us along at 7 knots. What a perfect sailing day! Nothing but open ocean all around, except for one small island in the distance off to our right. Looking around and seeing only blue ocean and cloudy white sky still makes me catch my breath every time as I remember the awesomeness of where we are and what we’re doing. Our planned course will take us by two islands today: Kao Island, an extinct volcano, and nearby Tofua Island, where Captain Bligh of the famous Mutiny on the Bounty was marooned.
The New Normal
The Robert C. Seamans and her 38 crew are back to a state of perpetual motion. (You may have noticed that we acquired another member: Ano, our Tongan observer, will be with us until we reach Suva!) We raised anchor in the early hours of the morning and began our voyage towards Tongatapu. This being our second leg at sea, we’ve been given more responsibilities, and started to become comfortable with handling some aspects of the ship’s operation.