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Voyages

SSV Corwith Cramer Blog

The Corwith Cramer departs Key West, Florida on Saturday, March 31, 2012 with students on C-240. They plan to sail Northeast making stops in St. George, Bermuda and Portsmouth, Dominica before concluding the trip in St. Croix, USVI on Tuesday, May 8th, 2012.

Position information is updated on a workday basis only. Audio updates from the ship are reported periodically throughout the voyage.

Mobile users, click here to open in the Google Earth App.

May

08

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Tuesday morning
08 May 2012
Moored Port side to Gallows Bay dock, St. Croix USVI  
C240 saying good bye and departing the ship.

Image caption:  “All hands to the head rig for a picture!” The last command
of C-240. 

End of cruise reflection by.
Captain Tom “Sully” Sullivan

At 0800 this morning the Corwith Cramer made fast to the pier in Gallows Bay St Croix ending her voyage of 3000 nautical miles.  There is no way I can convey to you the mixture of feelings from the crew this morning, but let’s just say it ran from crying to laughter.  Crying due to the fact that we are parting ways as a crew, laughter from recalling all the good times that made us a crew.  It is such a bitter sweet mixture of emotions that it almost overpowers most into a state of near shock.  It feels like time is going much to quickly and all of the things you wished you could do or say to your shipmates just will not come out right.  We all feel it,  some of us will have processed the last 6 weeks quicker than others, for some of us it may be months before the true meaning of what we have just accomplished sinks in, the length of time doesn’t matter.  the voyage we just made together is now a part of history.  The crew of C240 is now safely recorded for posterity in the ships logbook and we will always stay that way, shipmates, a bond for life. 

So with good byes said, emails and addresses exchanged the students departed the ship by 0900 and all was quiet aboard, an eerie quiet almost as if Cramer missed the departing sailors as well.

I hope this finds all of our family and friends well, soon you will be hearing from all of us in person. 
Thank you for following along with our voyage
Fair winds shipmates,
sully

May

08

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Monday evening
07 May 2012
Anchored off St Johns after clearing customs.welcome home USA. 
Watching the sun set at sea for the last time on C240.

Image caption:  A well-deserved swim call following our last, epic Field Day. 

End of cruise reflection by.
Chief Scientist Jeff Schell

I am overwhelmed.  Where to begin?  How do I explain what a wondrous trip it has been? 

As Academic Coordinator I can state some facts.everyone passed.everyone has learned so much.in fact 17 academic credits worth of learning has happened over the last 3 months!  For those at home who helped support this academic adventure it has been money well spent.  But I assure you the value of this experience for each student is infinitely greater than the dollars and cents, school credits, or any other conventional measure deemed important by society.  These intangible experiences are personal and consequently diverse in nature.  Though specific details vary I assure you each student has had to stand by their decisions and confidently lead their watch, to speak up and have their voice and their ideas heard.  Equally important each student has learned to recognize the value of being a supporting member of a team; to follow directions swiftly, with alacrity, and without question to keep the ship and shipmates safe.  Each student has overcome personal adversity in its myriad forms, learned from it, and is now the wiser for it.  Each student has experienced an event they will never forget and has likely experienced something they wish they could forget.  Each student has been required, by the needs of the ship and the community, to do something they wish they didn’t have to do, but they sucked it up, did it, and lived to tell the tale.  And many have lived a dream by having accomplished something they always wanted to do.  At some point in the cruise each student experienced fear, sadness, joy, doubt, accomplishment, humility, assuredness, and pride.  It has been a rich experience, a time of personal growth that cannot be measured in any conventional, uniform way.  Though the details vary, I know that each student returns to shore not as they departed.  Perhaps now you can understand why I have a sense of being overwhelmed, trying to summarize our cruise, C240 - Ocean Exploration from Key West to St. Croix US Virgin Islands. 

Similarly, do not be surprised if your sons and daughters are equally challenged by the task to capture in words what it means to have played their part in sailing the Corwith Cramer over 3000 nm as an integral member of the sailing crew, as a scientist, as a conscientious global citizen.  Be prepared for the standard answer, “Oh, it was great, we sailed from Key West to St.Croix ..we stopped in Bermuda and Dominica along the way.. It was really cool!”  And then there will be a pause while they consider what to say next.  Where to begin?  How to explain such a completely foreign, entirely personal experience that requires so much familiarity with the customs and language of a sailing/ research ship on the high seas?  They too will feel overwhelmed.  Expect to hear quite a bit about the port stops, they are the easiest part of the experience to explain, the stories will sound the most familiar.  “I saw this, did that, tried such and such local food.”  Such stories are easy to relate from personal experience.  But realize that we visited these ports not as tourists, rather as students looking for a deeper understanding, appreciation, and respect for the history, culture, and nature of the island and the people.  Though the retelling of their voyage will likely begin with the port stops, do not be fooled the port stops may be convenient bookends, chronological pegs upon which to hang the cruise in familiar terms, but much of the story, the adventure, the drama, the tears, the laughter, the triumph happened in that most mysterious of places, the open ocean.above and below the surface. 

I encourage you to dig deep and look beyond the dust jacket synopsis and laudable reviews presented in the daily web blog.  Be patient, slowly the stories will unfold.  They may seem strange and hard to follow at first.  In the retelling of a story your son and daughter may begin laughing about a joke that doesn’t seem as funny to you without some context.  There may be no sense of chronology to the stories; time can be a tricky thing at sea. With a rotating watch system, hours, days, weeks merge one into the other. Try not to judge the value of the story based on these aesthetic qualities, instead read the passion in their voice as they describe the night they witnessed bioluminescence for the first time at sea.  Instead, watch as a smile forms across their lips when they recount the day they successfully called a gybe, or set and struck one of the many sails onboard Cramer. Look for a proud stance and air of authority as they explain their scientific findings or describe the many marine organisms they learned to identify.  (For the latter, I encourage you to ask for a drawing to help illustrate the strange, yet beautiful critters collected nightly in our nets!)  Enjoy the quickened pace and hand gestures that will accompany their descriptions of sailing maneuvers and hauling in perfect rhythm on the Main halyard or furling on the bow sprit in heavy seas!  In short, do not judge the experience based on the narrative alone, or simply the gigabytes of pictures; the content and language may be too unfamiliar and the account so personal, that it may be challenging for you to contextualize and fully appreciate the story.  Instead be moved by the tone, emotion, and expression of your storyteller.  Therein lays the true heart, meaning, and value of our adventure on Mother Cramer.

Though I often invoke the metaphor of a book or story to help explain this cruise, C240, I realize it is grossly inadequate.  No single book could capture this rich story; instead imagine an entire shelf of first edition masterpieces.  Each a story like no other.  The captain and I have merely dressed the stage with various sundry accoutrements and necessities (sails, lines, scientific equipment, food, water, fuel, etc).it is the professional crew and the students who have populated the stage, filled the pages of these many stories and given them life, meaning, purpose, direction.  I am lucky to have been a bit player in such wonderful stagecraft.  My thanks go out to all of my shipmates for a wonderful cruise I shall never forget.  And my thanks also to our eager and interested audience back home that has found some manner of entertainment from our adventures.  Good night and sweet dreams! 

Cheers
Chief Scientist
Jeffrey M. Schell

May

07

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 6 May 2012
Time: 1930
Ships Position: 17° 54.1´ N x 63° 42.0´ W
Heading: 320 psc
Speed: 5.0knts
Weather: Winds light and variable out of the South West air temp 27°

Image caption:  Corwith Cramer under full sail. 

Our final days are just as busy and exciting as our first days here on Mama Cramer. Although we have learned so much, there are new tasks and skills acquired every day. Today was my last JWO and I lead the setting of sails, which I had never called before. We (B-Watch) spent nearly six hours setting and striking sails, which included the mains’l the squares, the forestays’l, the jib tops’l and the raffee,  totaling ten sails over six hours. The winds have been weak and so we set all that sails and then launched the small boat so that Cramer could have a photo shoot.  Jeff took over 300 pictures while Carla drove the boat around in order to get the best angles. We were sent aloft as part of the photo shoot and there may have been a couple of staged pictures as well. It was also about this time that donuts were brought up on deck for morning snack. And since Carla cannot go more than twenty minutes without sugar, we had to throw some to her and Jeff in the small boat. Once the photo shoot was over we struck more sails. It was a fun and busy last morning and watch B-watch rocked it, plus we had our fastest furl, a skill we have been honing.

Today also involved our last science deployments, on morning watch Matt and Patrick decided to do a secchi disk and a shipek and in the afternoon we did a much anticipated “special deployment”. This special deployment involved M&M’s, so it was bound to be fun. It was a variation on the secchi disk which measures the 1% light level, the region in the water column were only one percent of the light from the surface remains. The deployment involves lowering a white disk until it can no longer be seen and then there are some calculations to determine the light level. The fun part is making bets in how far we will be able to see the disk and then everyone leans on the rail shouting “sight” until it is no longer visible. This same process was conducted with M&M’s to see how far down specific colors penetrate the water column. This deployment consisted of laughter and consumption of M&M’s and the constant shout of “sight”. This may be one of the terms that returns to land, so don’t be alarmed if it is used in everyday language. A warning, it is often repeated multiple times. Anyway, if you were wondering; we could see the yellow M&M the longest and red M&M the shortest.

As this journey comes to an end we are all beginning to look forward to the things and people that we have missed but are also savoring every last moment of this adventure, because we know that it will be over soon and only fond memories will remain.  As our last hours wind down, we are still just as busy as ever. Watch schedule continues but naps are going to be eliminated, for the most part. B-watch has mid watch tonight (2300-0300), and instead of having the ‘sleep of kings’ afterwards we will be greeted by morning wake ups at 0700 in order to clear customs back into the United States. Then a full afternoon of Bunk Love (which involves cleaning) and Field Day (more cleaning), and an evening Swizzle (dinner, songs, reflections) and then Dawn watch (0300-0700) the following morning.  This will bring us into port for an 0800 departure from the ship; so as we return to our respective homes expect us tired and happy and with stories to last a good long time.

To everyone at home see you soon and to my Cramer family this adventure has been awesome and I will miss you all once we depart, so let’s make these last hours count.

Fair winds,

Anna Yoors

May

06

C240 Ocean Exploration

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May 5 2012
2217
16°N x70°W
Winds SxW, overcast and rainy.
Tori Pinheiro

Photo Caption: Montserrat!

Our final papers were due today so please excuse any loopiness apparent in this blog post. Its presently 2217, I just submitted my paper (which came out pretty darn well if I do say so myself, even though it took FOREVER, but its all good, its done now!), and I have about an hour before I go on watch. Yes, readers, I woke up at 0600, was on watch till 1300, worked on my paper all afternoon and evening, am now typing this blog post, and then will be on watch from 2300 to 0300. Its no wonder C watch has been giggling uncontrollably and talking in Russian accents for the past 24 hours, we’re all about to lose it! And we wouldn’t have it any other way, the fact that the trip is almost over seems impossible, we all refuse to talk about it being over!

This morning we awoke to the green peaks of Montserrat materializing out of the haze on the horizon. Lush green foliage enveloped the island, intermittently parted by the blackish-red paths of the lava flows snaking their way down to the sea. The ruins of the old capitol lie half buried in ash, far below the ragged peak which was exuding huge bellows of steam as we sailed by. Basically it was friggin’ AWESOME! We sailed past an active volcano and it was STEAMING! What!

Other than Montserrat today was pretty much dominated by project work. In the stressful moments spent waiting for a computer to open up, we went through pictures from Dominica, retold stories of climbing up waterfalls and hurtling out over Portsmouth Harbor on epic Tarzan-esque rope swings (or in my case retelling stories of how our guide had to walk me step by step up said water fall in order to prevent epic clumsy-tori disaster. I kid you not. His name was Alvin, he was the best, and literally walked in front of me saying “Ok, now you put yo foot heah. And yo hand goes theah. No, no! Not deah, dats a crab! Stop! Ok maybe we’ll take a break…” Alvin will forever be my hero. Oh and the rope swing. Yeah, I missed the ocean, swung back to shore and skidded about 10 feet in the sand. Needless to say, sitting down is a painful experience. But the pictures are hilarious and Dominica was amazing and I’m most definitely going back!). We also decorated Styrofoam cups and sent them down to the bottom of the ocean where they shrunk to the size of shot-glasses and are by far the best souvenirs of the trip!

So now we’re just savoring the last few days, taking it all in, and trying not to think about it ending.

Cheers,
Tori

Beijinhos to everyone back home reading this! See you soon!

May

05

C240 Ocean Exploration

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04 May, 2012 (Time: 1734)
16° 06.4 N x 61° 54.4 W (off the west coast of Basse-Terre)
Heading:  340 psc
Speed: 3.4 kts
Weather: Clear skies, SSE winds, 28° C

Cramer Crew looks out towards the “nature island” of Dominica. (Photo by: Jeff Schell)

We have said our final goodbyes to Dominica and are enroute to St. Croix! With only 4 days left of our journey, the students are busy putting the finishing touches on our Oceanography research projects, writing our final reflection papers for Liz, and controlling the watch duties in JWO/JLO phase. As the days are winding down, much talk has begun about going home and summer plans. We are all excited to go home, but will miss the ship we have lived in for the last month and our shipmates, who have become family.

This morning was an exciting and action packed day for A-watch. We had the first watch of the day (from 0700-1300) and I was JWO for my second time. We had to raise anchor, set sails and exit the harbor. We were able to go straight from anchor to sailing, without starting the engine. This usually does not happen and was a first for our trip. We were told only skilled sailors can do it. That really says something about how far we all have come.

We had quite a bit of sail handling as well. As wind directions changed, we set and struck many different sails until we found a sail plan that worked for us (All sails, minus the Course and Rafee). Another first occurred during our watch. We learned how to perform a “sausage set” while setting the Fisherman Stays’l (I was told this must be explained if entering it in the blog to avoid confusion). This is used when the sail needs to be passed over the mainstays’l when sails are switched to a different tack (port or starboard). It is much easier to do than manually lift the sail with your arms to move it to the other side of the mainstays’l. The trick to a “sausage set” is to keep the sail bunched up like a sausage (hence the name) until it has been raised high enough to lift the end of it over to the other side with ease. A-watch, with some extra help from Will, Tori, Matt, and Jeff, was able to gracefully pass and set the Fisherman Stays’l on a starboard tack with only one try (Well Done Team!).

We also had a few challenges along the way. There is a phrase on the ship called the “port stop sillies,” which occur after port stops. Many people tend to forget small details that need to be done to operate the ship. For example: forgetting to cast off the downhaul before setting a sail. Our watch had a few “port stop silly” moments, but for the most part, and definitely before our watch ended we were back in the sailing mind set.

Our last few days plan to be just as exciting. We have many islands and ships to watch out for, which will keep the JWO’s & their watches quite busy with navigation and steering. We will all be pros at taking visual and radar fixes to plot our positions and calculate CPAs (Closest Point of Approach) of ships and land masses. We need to do this to keep a safe distance from each obstacle. We are going to see more land and traffic than we have seen all trip. It is a big change of scenery from the vast open ocean we had become accustomed to.

Well, it is about time for me to get back to writing the papers that actually determine my grade (Oceanography & Maritime Studies).  Our big Oceanography paper is due tomorrow.  Jimmy & I have been working diligently to complete it. Our experiment on ocean acidification and how it affects pteropods has been a success! “The Smasher,” the device we built to measure the force it takes to crush the pteropod shells, did its job and our data has been analyzed. It was so cool to finally see results after spending so much time planning the project, and guess what; the data actually support our hypothesis.

Oops, got off on a little tangent there. I’m really going to go now.

Cheers,
Terese Mayerle

P.S. Happy Belated Birthday Mom! Sorry I missed it! Tell Dad I miss him too! Also, I have a little framing project for Terry when I get back, couldn’‘t resist buying some Caribbean art. I’m super excited to get home and see the fam! Mike- Can’t wait to see you when I get to St. Croix! I miss you!

May

04

C240 Ocean Exploration

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May 03, 2012
GPS Position: 150 32.3’ N x 0610 27.8’ W
Speed: At Anchor in Prince Rupert Bay near Portsmouth, Dominica
Photo Caption: In the Valley of Desolation

From the ship, you can understand why Dominica is called the Nature Island of the Caribbean. Mountain upon mountain of lush green vegetation surrounded by the sea. Many of us came here to experience the island in full force and embark on the journey to the Boiling Lake and Valley of Desolation. We were warned by travel books that, “it is only for the fit and agile, capable of using both arms and legs as a means of locomotion over every conceivable gradient of terrain.” And man were they right!

We started with a nice van ride over to the Trois Pitons National Park where our hike would begin. As we all walked up the paths, it didn’t seem too bad; rain falling overhead, keeping us cool. But soon we were encountering hundreds of stairs made of tree trunks, slippery rocks and wet soil that captured our feet as we pressed foolhardily into it. We scaled rocks and walked through narrow pathways with walls on either side of us. We trekked through streams and down gorges of running water. Finally, we reached our first destination: The Valley of Desolation. The smell of sulfur filled the air as we carefully walked around bubbling pools of water which steam was rising up from.

From there it was up to the Boiling Lake. With sore legs and wet clothes we pushed on, determined to make it to one of the largest boiling lakes in the world. Upon experiencing more intense terrain, we finally reached it. Three hours from the start of our tour, Kayla, Terese, Anna, Patsy, Max, Jimmy, John, Brian and I stood at the top of a cliff looking down at the bubbling water below us. It was definitely like nothing I’ve ever seen before and completely worth it.

The way back, though across the same rugged terrain did not seem all that bad. Especially since we got to stop and swim twice along the way. After such a long day it was nice to come back to the safety of Momma Cramer anchored right off of Portsmouth.

The hike we took was very similar to the way the past six weeks have been for me. Really intense. But when I look back and see how far I’ve come, how far all of us have come really, I feel accomplished and proud to be a part of SEA. Just like the hike, this trip on the Cramer has taught us all how far we can really go with some guidance and motivation.

I am really excited to get back to the states and see my family and friends. I miss and love you guys! See you all soon!

May

02

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Monday, 01 May 2012
GPS Position: 150 32.3’ N x 0610 27.8’ W
Speed: At Anchor
Wind Speed: Force 4, E
Cloud Cover: 2/8, Cumulus
Air Temperature: 26.0 0 C
Log: 2292.0 nm

Photo Caption: A Watch preparing to jump off the bow of Mama Cramer. (left to right: Me, Brian, Terese, Katie and Patsy)

Today was the official start of our port stop in Dominica. A Watch had the deck for the day while B & C watch had the day off to explore the island. Some people hiked up to the Boiling Lake, went into the city of Roseau or went birding. Since I am a member of A watch, I was aboard Mama Cramer all day. We started the day with an all hands breakfast then took over the ship at 0730.  Spread throughout the day everyone was responsible for four hours of being on look out, going on boat checks, checking the weather and taking anchor bearings.  The rest of our watch’s day consisted of project work and tasks that need to get done to get Cramer ready for the US. Each student was assigned different food items to take inventory on. I was assigned the snack bunk. It’s a good thing I didn’t know I was sleeping above that bunk this whole trip. While being arms deep grabbing food under people mattress we were able to listen to the radio of Dominica and our iPods. After we fished our inventory we were assigned different jobs. Some of us washed and painted blocks (pulleys). While others scrubbed rust off of various things. We were constantly working on projects, but we were soon rewarded for our hard work.  Ryan announced that “the pool was open.” Sully gave him the ok that we could all take a swim in the ocean.  We all just happened to have our swim suits on and waited in line to jump off the bow sprit. We all had so much fun. The water was very clear and warm. A watch is excited for this busy day to be over because after today we have the next two days off to venture into Dominica.  I plan on hiking up to the Boiling Lake, traveling on the Indian River (the same river that was used in the Pirates of the Caribbean during the Calypso scene), then head into the city of Roseau. I can’t wait to finally set foot on Dominica; I’ve been sitting in front of it for the past two days now. I can’t complain though, the island is beautiful to look at, there are so many mountains and it’s covered in vegetation.

Family & Friends- Miss you & See you guys soon!!!!
Kayla

May

01

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Monday, 30 April 2012
GPS Position: 150 18.2’ N x 0610 32.2’ W
Speed: At Anchor
Wind Speed: Force 3, ENE
Cloud Cover: 8/8, Cumulus
Air Temperature: 25.5 0 C,  77 0 F
Log: 2292.0 nm

Photo Caption: Poster session with Epic Island Rainbow

Today marks our grand arrival to Dominica! B-watch had the deck as we came to our anchorage in Prince Rupert Bay off Portsmouth, with Jimmy as our local-apparent JWO. The watch stayed busy with monitoring traffic, plotting radar fixes, and harbor furling our sails as we approached. We were greeted by a group of locals in their characteristic colorful boats, offering fresh fruit and warm welcomes to everyone aboard. After a few brief squalls throughout the morning, it was all sunshine and smiles for the rest of the day!

We had a wonderful poster session this afternoon where everyone presented their oceanographic research findings, with an epic backdrop of rainbows and a lush tropical paradise (postcard-worthy, for sure). We enjoyed “Cramerccinos” a la Jeff for afternoon snack. Currently, everyone is lapping up some down time from poster-frenzy by starting various bosunry projects, reading, knitting or planning activities for their days off in port.

On this last day of April, we decided to conduct a Cramer census. The ships company was anonymously polled regarding some of our experiences over the last 5 weeks at sea. We’ve compiled a list of some notable responses:
.. “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey is a favorite bow watch song
.. A tie for favorite heads: Downpatrick (all the way aft), and Clogher (the after forward head).sometimes your favorite head is worth waiting for!
.. One of the favorite JWO lessons has been how to take control of tricky situations
.. The “coffee pot refill” has been a favorite Jeff Schell gesture (there are many to choose from.)
.. Favorite hang-out spots include: the elephant table nestled between the sails, aloft, and face down in my pillow.
.. There is not enough room in this blog to list all of the responses we received for Favorite snacks of C-240, however, some drool-worthy headliners have been: Pineapple stuffing, Brownies with cookie dough swirl, Eggplant parm, sliders and blueberry pies on Earth Day, baked brie with jam, BBQ chicken pineapple pizza, and fresh mahi-mahi!
.. Some of the biggest surprises at sea have been sighting whales breeching ridiculously close to Cramer, and realizing how well you can sleep despite someone eating 6 inches away from your bunk.
.. Regarding favorite “bij” moments (please refer to Max’s blog for definition): a majority of responses referenced a large splash soaking an unsuspecting passer-by during a science deployment.

.. Lastly, favorite “Cramer-isms” include: “Please pass the clear drank” (translation: Please pass the water) and “You should bring your foulies to watch, there are squalls” (translation: No really, bring your foulies to watch, there are squalls).

It’s crazy to think that at the conclusion of this well-deserved port stop, we will only have a few more days underway together. As the census department can attest - we have built an exceptional community and we will certainly relish the time remaining here in Cramer Nation!

With Love and Longitude,

Your B-Watch Officers, Mackenzie + Carla

PS: Cait Houli - Happy belated birthday! Miss you lots. Miss you too, Seth. And Brian.
PPS: Yo Parental Units- I miss you like one side of Velcro misses the other. Can’t wait to talk to you soon, and save me some ‘secco. Love, Mashka
PPPS: Kim, we think of you everyday. You have lots of love coming to you from Dominica, keep it dangly, girl.

Apr

30

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Sunday, 29 April 2012
GPS Position: 150 18.2’ N x 0610 32.2’ W
Heading: 1840T
Speed: 2.5 knots
Wind Speed: BF 3, 7kts
Cloud Cover: 5/8, Cu
Air Temperature: 27.00 C
Log:2256.8nm

Photo Caption: Checking out some Bermudan caves.

Once again another action packed day on Corwith Cramer. Right after breakfast, my watch almost instinctively carried out their respective duties. The hustling and bustling started as soon has the dog house bell rang as it struck 0700. Today I worked on deck assisting my fellow shipmate Crystal, who was JWO at the time. Hourly weather, boat checks, sail handling and trimming, tracking squalls on the radar, getting ready for a Neuston net tow for the science lab, and carrying out the Captain’s specific orders…A lot to deal with in a short amount of time! Amongst all of this commotion, great relief fell upon me after we could take visual bearings of Dominica rather than only RADAR ranges. While on a boat check, I stopped and stared at the enormous, ancient volcano of an island with deep green spilled all over its rugged terrain. Overcome by the feeling of seeing such a beautiful place and the confirmation of “yeah, we actually traveled this far,” I, somewhat quickly, got myself back to completing a thorough boat check to ensure the safety of our beloved Mama Cramer.

This trip is not over yet and we’ve already traveled over 2200nm! Those hourly log entries really add up.

Feeling like a dog being teased with a juicy steak bone he can’t have, we have been ordered to stay 10nm away from that beautiful island I’ve been eagerly gazing at between my duties. I can’t wait until we clear customs on Monday and will finally get to go ashore on Tuesday. I know I’m going to be exhausted from doing as much as humanly possible. My partner, Sir James Rohman (a.k.a Little Jimmy), and I will also be working on our Maritime studies research on the island. Our chosen project investigates the history, themes, and the way cadence-lypso music is perceived by locals. This assignment will be finally transcribed in active voice, which has been so masterfully planted in our minds by Ms. Fischer.

All of the students have put our past lessons to the test standing watch as either JWO or JLO (Junior Watch Officer and Junior Lab Officer). These two positions are filled by students every watch now. This person is a leader and has the command to help orchestrate tasks and duties. Luckily, I have a very good watch team. Even though one person does technically have a little more authority and is accountable, we work as a team and share this position. We now work better together than we ever have!

Even though it greatly saddened me to leave Bermuda, it simply means we now have an opportunity to see another amazing place.  I’m so anxious to find out what we will experience on Dominica. This is a much needed port stop that I’m sure every student who has survived the stress, the challenges (and rewards) of the JWO position will attest to.

To all my family and friends, I Love you guys.

P.S. - Mom, I really should have taken my digital hard drive to save all of these amazing pictures everyone is taking. This is probably the one time I shouldn’t have been such an obedient son. Ha ha. Don’t worry I’m taking some video as well. Tell Nick I said hello and that he better be reading these blogs. Love you guys!

William Melvin

Apr

29

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Saturday, April 28, 2012
GPS: 16°57’N x 060°42’W
Heading: 195° PSC
Speed: 7.5 knots
Wind: Beaufort force 5
Clouds: 2/8 Cumulus
Air temperature: 27 Celsius

Image Caption: A watch enjoying the fair winds.

Max Abrahamson

A riddle: My shoulders are kind of sun burnt. I find myself repeatedly stubbing an assortment of body parts on bulkheads and ladders. I live 10° above or below my neighbor. It’s getting pretty darn hot out. Where am I?

Well, I guess you could be a variety of places, but onboard the Corwith Cramer we are sailing mighty pretty along the western edge of the Atlantic trade winds! After a few unfortunate days of motor-sailing we now have more than enough gusto from the eastward breeze to make our way south. Today, with only the 4 lowers, we reached the maximum physical speed of the Cramer, just over 9 knots. It’s a change to be governed by the physics of the vessel instead of the strength of the wind. There is something else too, beyond this physical strength that brings awe to mind.

I’ve read and heard of the predominant winds of our oceans from countless texts, Profs, and historical novels, but it is extraordinary to be witnessing the power of nature for myself. I knew it was here but now I can feel it on my backside every time I take the deck. I don’t even mind the unexpected wave creating occasional ‘bijes’ (a Cramer euphemism for any unexpected mishap) on our windward deck; which seem to occur when you are least prepared.  My personal favorite involved a large wave and a cup of tea. I greatly enjoy taking forward lookout, for here the sensation of wind, water, sea, mist, and foam is greatest.

I also consider the history of this place. For hundreds of years sailors have harnessed the power of these winds and now I too get to utilize their might. Not only witnessing but becoming a part of living history is something special. 

On the Horizon: I can see Guadeloupe if I really squint.

That’s all for now

Thanks

-Max

Apr

28

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Friday, 27 April 2012
GPS: 18°45’N x 060°25’W
Heading: 200°PSC
Speed: 7.8 knots
Wind: Beaufort force 5
Clouds: 2/8 Cumulus
Air temperature: 27 Celsius

Image Caption: View of the bow from the course yard arm (Schell).

Celestial bodies move from east to west, Mike Tyson is awesome, and the Corwith Cramer sails south. All indisputable facts. What else is new?


As Brian wrote in his practiced prose, standing in as a Junior Watch Officer is a stressful job. Almost everyone has spent a watch as J WO once by now, and each student will likely tell you a very different story. However, if one listens attentively, each narrative has traceable themes of pressure, uncertainty, intermittent euphoria and subsequent relief once a J WO’s watch is over. From first-hand experience, I can say that I was incredibly nervous about certain maneuvers and actions. Despite my apprehension and uneasiness at times, my turn as the ‘con’ of the Cramer went well. Once all was said and done and the next watch had relieved mine, I felt a huge wave of happiness and exhaustion. Nothing was broken and everybody was still on board, with all limbs and fingers attached.

Although Phase III is incredibly interesting and worth talking about, I have other things to mention. First of all, staff galley day has been a huge success thus far. Portions have been gargantuan, plates have been delectable, and good fun has been had by all. The stewards have thoroughly enjoyed their day off and the staff has relished the opportunity to cook for themselves and their shipmates. However, many of today’s chefs have mentioned one unresolved question: how on earth do the stewards crank out 6 meals a day, every day? I believe it is a mixture of natural ability, good grace, determination and exceptional baller-ness. Charlie and Nate are doing a damn good job keeping us well fed (read: keeping us fat).

An interesting phenomenon I have noticed on the boat, and a constant source of discussion, is sea dreams. Sea dreams are a result of being constantly overtired and overfed, and sleeping at odd hours for uneven intervals. Every time a sailor falls to sleep, there is the clear and ever-present opportunity of having an incredibly weird and vivid dream. I will relay a few of my most recent ones.
1. Charlie Sheen is our 3rd Mate. The Cramer becomes, for lack of a better description, a madhouse. As we are sailing south from Bermuda, Sheen is abducted off the boat due to dangerous gambling debts. We were about to elect a new mate when I was abruptly woken from my slumber. (Read: my suggestion for a new show. This could be the pilot episode.)
2. My backyard in New York has turned into an ocean, but has retained the same dimensions. I am swimming with Humpback whales, and we are performing tricks like the trainers at Sea World do with Orca whales. One unique trick is diving down with the whales, coming back up with them and being catapulted 50 feet into the air. The performance ends with a reception sporting special guests Luke Skywalker, Mahatma Gandhi and Ronald Reagan.
3. I am on dawn watch. When I am woken up at 0230 in the real world, I am on dawn watch.

These transpire almost every night for me, and occur to other crew members on the Cramer, too. (Some crew dreams: swimming in cookie dough, contracting swine flu of the thigh, MLB games in little league stadiums.) Bizarre and colorful dreams are a permanent fixture onboard, almost as common as mung..

Take care, land-folk. I look forward to stateside shenanigans.

Best,
James H. Rohman

Apr

27

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Nathaniel DuBrule - Ship’s Assistant Steward
26 April, 2012
Time: 13:50
Ship Position: 21°15’N x 060°32’W
Heading: 190° (Dominica’s a comin’..!
Speed : 5kn
Weather: Sunny with cloud cover. Winds out of the SE x E. Beaufort Force:4.

Photo Caption: The spread for our Earth Day Picnic. Bacon and Brie Sliders, Mini Blueberry Pies, and Watermelon Fizz Drank.

Today is the 26th of April 2012, or so I’m told. Time ceases to exist when working in the galley. If you ask me what time it is, I’ll give you an answer like “forty-five minutes until lunch” or “time for you to set the table, now hop to it.” Life in the galley aboard Cramer is reminiscent of a Cro-Magnon who, in his darkly lit cave, just figured out he can hold his raw pterodactyl shank over the fire to make it slightly more edible. If only he had had the variety of hot sauces we have, his life would have been complete. That being said, there is never a dull moment in the galley. Simple tasks such as boiling water or baking a loaf of bread can make even the most seasoned steward let loose with a slew of creative phrases while doing something reminiscent of a Native American rain dance in an attempt to appease Roxie and maybe, just maybe, get her to cooperate for one more meal. Roxie, for those of you who don’t know, is our quarter of a century old (literally..!) diesel oven who produces a single flame, and through a magical process called conduction (not convection, but conduction) attempts to disperse heat through every cubic inch of her cooking surfaces. She only has one “on” setting and that is 450° Fahrenheit, the result being that her oven is capable of cremating small wildlife while her range top is slightly less efficient than your average dorm room hot plate. Her name comes from her tendency to shut herself off and display a red light, indicating that she is taking a break from cooking whatever food you may need for the coming meal. Those of you who weren’t all jacked up on amyls and disco music during the mid-80’s may recall a song by The Police about a lady of the night by the same name, who had a tendency to put on her red light. On any given day, you can hear a steward mournfully crooning the lyrics of Sting to old Roxie in an effort to get her to turn back on and continue providing heat enough to boil that pot of water. Still, despite all my lamentations about Roxie, she is an exceptional piece of equipment and an integral part of galley life as we know it. With patience, perseverance, and ever lowering expectations, we continue to pump out beyond exceptional culinary creations to fill the abysses that are our crew’s stomachs.

Tomorrow is staff galley day so Charlie and I both have to whole day off. We are immensely looking forward to being able to leave our fluorescent-lit cave, and, after almost four weeks at sea, finally start working on our base tan. I also can’t wait to have enough time to work on reading my book in more than half page increments. To make sure that there are no interruptions tomorrow I am helping the staff get their meals planned and prepped today. They all start with delusions of grandeur; eggs benedict for breakfast, fried empanadas for lunch, steak tartar for dinner, until I finally talk them down to the reality of life in the galley. Water rarely boils, oil never gets hot enough to fry, and that steak, you don’t want to eat it without cooking the hell out of it. So after some lengthy changes, we settle on breakfast burritos, sandwiches, and pizzas. It all makes me smile though, because while they are in the galley tomorrow inventing new names to call Roxie and adding more steps to my “cook damn you, cook!” dance, I’ll be up on top of the science lab in the sun, with no shirt, blinding astronauts on the space station with my brilliant lack of a tan. 

For those who are curious, our everyday meal schedule is as follows. There are two sittings of breakfast at 06:20 and 07:00. Then a snack at 10:00 followed closely by two sittings of lunch at 12:20and 13:00. Then the kids go to class and usually around 15:30 they get another snack. Dinner comes soon after at 18:20 and 19:00. Then, snacks are put out and made available all night to fill any bellies that might begin rumbling while on watch. Now I’m just a simple steward, no degree in mathematics, horology, or physics, but some days it seems like we bend time to get all that food prepped, cooked, and into stomachs on time. That’s why it was no surprise when the main office alerted us that Stephen Hawking will be on one of the upcoming voyages as an Assistant Steward doing research for his new book. Be sure to look for “Mama Cramer’s Voyages through Time: A Stewards Tale” on Amazons best seller list by Christmas.

Well, I can’t leave you without knowing how we feast here aboard the Corwith Cramer. Our menu is ever changing and we rarely make the same thing twice, so I’ll describe what we had to eat yesterday. The day started with a variety of quiches for breakfast. They ranged from spinach and sausage with bacon to roasted red pepper with tomato and broccoli. Since we have vegetarians on board, we offer a meat free option at every meal. Morning snack was a scrumptious, made from scratch, deep dish coffee cake with melt in your mouth streusel decorating its top. Lunch consisted of turkey and cheese pita melts with homemade chicken and wild rice soup for the carnivores, and cream cheese and veggie pita pockets with vegetable and wild rice soup for the herbivores. After lunch it was time for class, so we all mustered (no not like the Dijon, which we have gallons and gallons of, so if you have recipes that use it, please forward them) on the quarter deck to listen to our chief scientist, Jeff, give a lecture on the characteristics of fish according to the depth at which they dwell. Afterwards, it only seemed appropriate to serve a huge bowl of goldfish as a tasty closer to an amazing class. With all that just learned information still fresh in their minds, the students quickly identified that goldfish are reef dwellers due to the curvature and wide surface area of their tail, and that their large eyes and upturned mouths are so they can quickly focus in and nab little bits of potential food floating down from above. Rumor has it that Dr. Schell is working on a thesis paper to send to Pepperidge Farms. Dinner consisted of a huge roast beast, peas, cranberry sauce and painstakingly handmade baked gnocchi in a white wine and garlic cream sauce. Midnight snack was an impressive spread of vanilla crème cookies as Roxie decided she would take forever cooking our pecan bars and they didn’t set up in time to be served. It seems like stuff like that is always happening in the galley. Hey, now worries though..! We’ll just serve it in two hours at the next meal..!

I hope that this brief blog has helped give you some insight into what goes on in the galley aboard Mama Cramer. Every day is an adventure into the exciting world of tall ship cuisine. You never know when a sheet pan is going to come flying off the shelf at your head or your freshly made hollandaise sauce will come flying up the counter onto your chest. You never know how Roxie is going to be feeling that day or if it’s going to be raining, causing all vents to be closed, giving the galley the luxury of the only onboard sauna. You can count on one thing though, the students.  Before and after every meal I have one come in, with a huge smile on their face, to help me wash dishes. The galley is a fun place with just us two stewards, but without the students it wouldn’t be half as fun. They catch us up on ship gossip, inform us of new jokes that are circulating so we don’t end up on the butt end of them, and inform us of the whale sighting we missed because we still had 240 more steps to go in the “Come on Roxie..!” dance. They even have the courtesy to yell down “Hey Galley..! We’re jibing…!”, so I have time to turn around and see that sheet pan as it comes flying straight at my face.

A few after notes:
Parents, if you have kids coming home this summer, start practicing being able to put out six meals a day or you may have some ornery offspring on your hands. I have had success fighting off small groups of hungry students by throwing a jar of Nutella at them and running the other way.  and If you happen to walk by Roxie, please put on a pot of water. I think we might have pasta tomorrow…

Love your oven,

Nathaniel DuBrule

Apr

26

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Photo cap: A-Watch dons their moustaches for John’s JWO watch. Left to right: John, Mackenzie, Max, Katie, Kayla, Brian, Carla and Terese.

Brian Crowley

Wednesday, 25 April 2012
GPS: 22° 34.7’ N x 060° 19.3’ W
Heading: 200°PSC
Speed: 5 kts
Wind: Beaufort force 2
Clouds: 8/8 altocumulus and altostratus
Air temperature: 25°C

At 0400 this morning, the Cramer carried us over the Tropic of Cancer (23° 27’ N), officially putting us in the Tropics! Unfortunately, weather has not favored us the past couple days. With weak, southerly winds and frequent precipitation, only a few of our sails have been set and we have motored continuously for over 24 hours now.

As I write this, we begin Phase 3, in which the students lead the watches as Junior Watch Officers and Junior Lab Officers (JWO and JLO). After four weeks of relying on the mates and scientists for guidance, some of us may suffer a little separation anxiety when we seek advice and receive only stoic stares in response.

Captain Sully, however, reminded each of us to stay confident, trust our instincts and pool our resources with those of our fellow students during JWO phase. During class on the quarterdeck today, he read from Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, in which the author recounts how he learned to trust his instincts as an apprentice pilot on a Mississippi steamboat.

Class ended with two things: a lively lecture by our Chief Scientist Jeff Schell on body shapes and luminescence of marine life, and a spattering of cold rain that left him undeterred in continuing the lesson.

Kayla and I have been busy dissecting myctophids, examining their gut contents for plankton and plastic. We have yet to find any plastic in the stomachs of the fish (knock on wood) but there have been plenty of copepods and ostracods (types of common zooplankton) to count and keep us occupied.

This afternoon, the alarm rang for a Man Overboard drill. Life rings were cast overboard, to be retrieved by the rescue boat. As with a fire drill, each watch is assigned a different task: A-watch deploys the rescue boat, B trims the sails to make the ship hove to(as stationary as possible), and C watch provides spotters and support. The flotation devices were retrieved in only seven minutes, showing how quick the crew was able to respond.

I’m a little stressed about my first JWO watch on Friday, but it’s a relief knowing the staff will still be there to prevent any potentially dangerous decisions from culminating. I can’t believe how quickly phases 1 and 2 have flown by. I know this one will be over just as quickly, and I think we should all savor this experience while we can.

Mom, Dad and Rebekah, I hope all is well back home and know I’m thinking of you. And to everyone else following, thanks for your support!

Thanks,
Brian

P.S. Carla says HAPPY BIRTHDAY MINGLES!!
P.P.S. Happy Birthday Mom!! Hope you had a great day! Miss you and the rest of the family. Tell everyone I say hello! Love, Laura

Apr

25

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
8:00pm

Image caption:  Humpback whale breaching.  (photo credit Matt Scheuer)

Not a whole lot to report this evening. Today started with steady rain and more of the unusual weather pattern which replaced our fair easterly trade winds with light air from the south. We’re slowly motorsailing upwind toward Dominica, deploying gear when we can, and working on our oceanography and nautical science assignments. Speaking of sailing south, today marks the farthest south we’ve been since departing Key West.

During class today, our engineer Pete gave an excellent lecture on the inner workings of some of Cramer’s vital systems: the engines, generators, and refrigeration equipment. Our neuston net caught a 4” flying fish last night (rare in such a small slowly towed net) and many more halobates than we’ve seen previously. All is well aboard Corwith Cramer, we’re working hard, playing hard, sailing hard, and having fun.

Since I don’t have a whole lot else to say, I’ll leave you with an awesome picture that never made its way to the blog. Just before we made port in Bermuda, this humpback whale began breaching close around Cramer. It put on quite a show.

- Matt Scheuer

Apr

24

C240 Ocean Exploration

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23 April 2012
1500
25°14.5’N X 61̊7’W
Heading 200°PSC at 4 knots
Partly Cloudy (3/8 Altocumulus/Cirrus)

Photo: Peter using the quarterdeck binoculars (Matt Scheuer)

What.  A.  Day.  And it’s only three o’ clock.  It’s funny how time works aboard a ship.  Some of the days fly unnoticeably by, while others seem to last an eternity.  From 0700 to 1300, Crystal, Ryan, Patsy, and I held down the quarterdeck and did some sail handing.  I called my first “true” gybe, which, Dad, is much larger-scale than the sail maneuvering we’ve done in that old, little sailboat on the lake up in Maine.  It’s good that I got the practice, though.  And this time, I didn’t capsize the boat. 

The whole process takes around ten minutes—a ten minute interlude filled with both chaos and order, silence punctuated by the “passing to the left of two-zero-zero,” the screeching of the winch as the sheet line flies through it, the loud flapping of the sails, and the yells of “Gybe Ho!” as the boat comes around.  It’s a lot to keep track of—and a lot to coordinate and delegate—for just one person, but I look forward to finally mastering it in my Junior Watch Officer phase.  Crystal and I also did a navigation and weather report this morning, where we articulated our known position in the Atlantic and weather forecasts for the rest of the group.  I’ve really taken a liking to learning about the weather, and it’s cool looking at the weather charts that get faxed in every day, tracking fronts and air masses over timeframes, and then applying them to how they would affect us out here.  Ryan also helped me plot a “fix” on the ship’s chart.  The whole process starts with holding a sextant up to the horizon and measuring the sun’s height in the sky..  After a lot of seemingly tedious work, it’s gratifying seeing something like that on a chart and knowing that you didn’t use any computers, calculators, or any other means of electronic equipment to figure out where you were.  It’s a good feeling.  You feel like you truly accomplished something meaningful afterwards. 

Life at sea is an interesting one, and your emotions run high and low, like the pitch of the ship in sixteen-foot seas.  For starters, it’s difficult keeping track of time through days.  Aboard the Cramer, we live in four-to-eight hour intervals called “watches.”  Some watches you are full of energy and excitement and you laugh deliriously at everything.  On other watches, you’re over-tired, perpetually confused, and start thinking of things to do once you’re back on land.  On other days, you’re just a straight-up grouch bucket.  I’ve tried to figure out ways to combat these lows, mainly by reading—I’m reading The Great Gatsby for the first time—hanging out in the main saloon, or playing some music.  I’ve been taking up the guitar and love leafing through this ancient folk songbook that we have aboard.  I only know four chords so my repertoire is limited, but I’ve gotten “Edelweiss” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads” down.  I’m working on “Mr. Bojangles.”

Things are going to get busy around here, and the learning curve is steadily creeping up to vertical again.  It’s crazy to think that the results for our oceanography project are due next week.  I definitely have my work cut out for me.  The JWO phase is also beginning in a couple of days, which is both an exciting and daunting prospect.  It’s safe to say that the remainder of our time out at sea is going to be challenging for all of us.  But the more we are pushed by the mates, scientists, and captain, the more we learn.  And isn’t that what we’re here for in the first place?

Best Regards,

Peter Wu

P.S. Hope the Wu’s and Sauermanns are well back in home.  Thinking of you guys. Happy Birthday, Dad-hope the Sox won on your B-Day.  This will be my last blog post, so I’ll try sending out an email/text to you all in Dominica if possible.
(P.P.S. I’m moving to Bermuda.)

Apr

23

C240 Ocean Exploration

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22 April, 2012
Time: 1900
Ship Position: 26° 08.9’ N x 061° 41.3’ W
Heading: 160°, motor sailing under the main and stays’ls
Speed : 6 knots
Weather: Partly cloudy

Photo Caption: The last few standers of an epic “Pterodactyl” rematch around the binnacle at today’s picnic. Photo credit Jeff Schell.

Happy Earth Day greetings from Mitch and Chrissy, representing 2/3 of the assistant scientist staff onboard the Corwith Cramer!

The highlight of the day was our participation in the world-record setting Earth Day picnic, officially documented by Guinness Book of World Record steward and Chief Scientist Jeff Schell (see last post). The picnic provided a great chance to sing, laugh, and have fun.

Recognizing Earth Day also allowed us to reflect on our current surroundings. Looking out at the seemingly limitless horizon of beautiful blue water, we are reminded that most of the Earth’s surface is ocean. Often viewed as a foreign and mysterious part of our planet, we have recently begun to understand how important the oceans are to the great chemical, physical, and biological cycles that affect all of us on this “pale blue dot.” As sailor-scientists, all 28 of us on this microcosm of a world are proud to be adding to our collective knowledge of the sea.

Since our port stop science deployments have resumed at lightning speed- as of this post, we have passed the 50th deployment and have done over 40 surface stations! Creatures abound in our various nets: dip nets to collect plenty of Sargassum, the floating plant for which this part of the North Atlantic is named; Tucker Trawls, which use a stack of three nets to sample at discrete depths; neuston nets to sample the life at the air-water interface. Large brightly colored shrimp, Portuguese Men O’ War, viper fish, and a large Sargassum fish are just a few of the critters we’ve found in recent days. Additionally, large numbers of very small plastic pieces have been collected in the neuston net, suggesting that we are getting further into the North Atlantic Gyre, where plastic can float around for years. After our Earth Day reflections, it is a poignant reminder of the impact that all of us have on rarely visited portions of the planet.

All of the students are busily working on their independent science projects and getting checked-off on skills they will need for the next phase of our journey: the Junior Watch Officer phase. Right now we are scheduled to transition to JWO phase on Wednesday, and from then until the end of the trip, the students will have the responsibility of running both the deck and the lab. For staff it will be the most rewarding part of the trip - when the students demonstrate how much they have managed to learn from us in just a few short weeks. As Phase II is wrapping up, we are more than confident that they will be able to strut their stuff both on deck and in lab.

Cheers from your favorite nurdles,

Michael “Mitch” Schrimpf & Chrissy Dykeman

PS. (Mitch) Hello to friends and loved ones at home and around the world, and a special Happy Earth Day Birthday Mom!

PPS. (Chrissy) Sending love home to Mom, Tom, and Renee! Miss you guys and call you when I’m in port. Also sending love to Paraguay- see you soon Bud!

Apr

22

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Picnic for the Planet 2012 Record attempt - Official documentation

22 April 2012
Picnic for the Planet 2012
Guinness Book of Record attempt for largest picnic

Venue:  southern Sargasso Sea
‘City’:  26o 22.8’N by 061o 50.2’W
‘State’:  North Atlantic Ocean
‘Country’:  Open Ocean

Official documentation of event by Steward:  Chief Scientist Jeffrey M. Schell, PhD
Witnesses:  Chief Engineer Pete West and ship Captain Tom Sullivan

Picnic events began at 1430 (2:30pm local time) on the quarterdeck of the ship, the SSV Cowith Cramer; a beautiful, sunny day, with a nice sailing breeze.  The festivities began with various readings, reflections, songs, and artwork to commemorate, celebrate, and thank the planet Earth. 

The entire ships company was present (25 participants, 2 witnesses, 1 steward and our shipmate ashore was in our hearts). 

At 1510 (3:10pm local time) the food arrived which included bacon-brie burgers, blueberry pies, and a watermelon-swizzle drink.  By 1535 (3:35pm local time) the participants had devoured the tasty meal and everyone was topping off a last round of drinks. 

Then afternoon lingered on with a series of fun games played on the quarterdeck as we all enjoyed the scenery of the southern Sargasso Sea. 

Cheers
Jeffrey M. Schell - Steward of Record attempt

Apr

22

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Saturday 21 April, 2012
Time: 1921
Ship Position:27° 28.7N 61° 52.4W
Heading:151°
Speed :3.4 kts
Weather: Partly Cloudy

Photo caption: Patrick cleaning the engine during field day.

Patrick Mears, B watch

After six hours of sleep morning watch began at 0600 with a friendly wake up telling me, I have twenty minutes until breakfast and that I am on watch starting at 0650.  I am starting to feel the love hate relationship onboard the ship described by our Maritime Studies professor, Liz Fisher. There is nowhere in the world I would rather be than on the Cramer. However, I would scrub the galley trash cans for an extra three hours of sleep some mornings.

Today was a day for science.  Matt and I deployed a neuston tow just before 1000, as well as a surface station for water chemistry.  The neuston tow came back with small clumps of Sargassum, various gelatinous organisms, and more notably two small squid that were the center of attention by passerby’s.  More and more the lab and deck is being run by the students.  It is amazing the amount of knowledge I have picked up in this very short amount of time.

Again today was field day, the massive cleaning of the ship where everyone participates.  It is the only time music is allowed to be played on speakers.  Before our cleaning adventure, we all played a game on the quarter deck called pterodactyl.  It is played standing in a circle and the rules are that you cannot show your teeth and you say “pterodactyl” to the person next to you, and they do the same.  The person on the receiving end has the option of raising their arms and crying out like a pterodactyl, and if they do, you must either reverse direction or do the pterodactyls cry back.  When you mess up you must leave the circle.  Everyone was laughing before the end of the game.  The deckhand, Jon, won the game. I spent my field day helping to clean the engine room with Will.  It was hot and grimy work, but fun all the same.  Charlie brought around candy for us near the end of clean up.

Tomorrow is Earth Day, and should be a treat.  We are helping to set a Guinness World Record for largest group of people around the world picnicking at the same time, an effort organized and promoted by The Nature Conservancy.  So tomorrow we will be joining many others in an Earth Day picnic.  Join in the fun if you like. 

Best wishes to my family and friends, especially Kim.

Patrick

Apr

21

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Friday 20 April 2012, 1600
Pos:  29°05’N x 062°37’W by celestial running fix
Course:  155°T   Speed: 4.5 kts
Wind: NE’ly Force 3   Skies:  Mostly clear, 3/8 Cumulus clouds

Photo caption:  Gathered for class under full sail
Caroline Smith, Chief Mate
1430 found the 28 souls on board the Cramer gathered on the quarterdeck for afternoon meeting and class.  The souls in question feel the absence of our shipmate, Kim.  Don’t worry Kim- the number “11” is represented by all hands in the count off, and your words were read to the ship’s company- amidst sniffles and giggles.  I’ve been asked to blog in your stead, and from all of us- we look forward to crossing paths again.

The crew of the Cramer are settling in to their routines once more, as we put the land behind us.  And we’re looking the part, if I do say so myself. The temperatures recorded so diligently in the high teens Celsius have translated into the mid to high 60’s, and this tropic-minded group has shivered through the nights.  The thermometer now reads 22°, and after some discussion we’ve decided that’s in the mid 70’s.  This fact is celebrated with an abundance of Aloha gear and cut-down day-glow T’s, all slightly rumpled and salt faded, and accessorized with an array of straw hats.  We’re looking salty, and Cramer fits the part as well.

Our fair ship is decked out in the most canvas we’ve set yet.  Everything is up but the forestays’l.  The wind has gone light and is on the quarter.  The seas have lain down.  We’re rolling along to the South, and making a show of it.  And all hands seem up to the challenge.

Today is day 21, and it find us firmly in the grip of Phase II.  The crew don’t just look the part, they’re well on their way to mastering the routines and operations of Cramer’s deck and lab.  Our “shadows”-the chosen members of each watch who have been the recipients of the staff’s thoughts and knowledge- are making their voices heard more surely and more often. The staff are focusing on giving students tools to see and manage the “big picture” before we turn them loose as J-WO’s and J- LO’s.  The challenge now is incorporating all they’ve learned.  And they’re nailing it.  They do far more than look the part, they are becoming a solid and salty crew.

So, today has been one worthy of the brochures.  A reward for the squalls, the “cold”, the spills, and the rough seas.  Cramer and crew point their noses towards the tropics (where I’m sure we’ll look fondly upon the cooler breezes) and work to make the most of these light winds.  I can’t wait to see what the second half brings.

To those friends, family, and shipmates following along, I send my love.
It’s good to be back.

Apr

20

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Thursday, 19 April 2012
Time: 1930
Ship Position: 30° 08.7’ N, 62° 56.2’ W
Heading: 170° PSC
Speed: 3.5 kts
Weather: 4/8 cloud cover, Beaufort Force 3, 20.5 °C

Photo Caption: Me and Brian, observing the Portuguese Man-of-War that was
caught in a dip net this morning.

Katie Carria

Everyone on the Cramer is getting back into the swing of things after our most enjoyable port stop in Bermuda.  I had a great time ashore, though it felt very strange after being at sea for two consecutive weeks.  I really hope to go back to Bermuda sometime because one day there was definitely not enough time to appreciate all it has to offer. We are no longer able to see any land and we are south bound to Dominica! My fellow shipmates and I are becoming much better sailors and scientists by the day and I can’t believe how far we’ve all come.

Today was a day packed full of science! This morning (0700-1300) my watch was on deck and in the lab.  I was able to participate in many different deployments including a secchi disk, phytonets and a carousel deployment. Needless to say we were all very busy in the lab and I learned so much about these different types of equipment and how they are used.  In recent observations there have been less and less clumps of Sargassum but we have noticed many Portuguese Man-of-Wars sailing themselves by the ship. We were fortunate enough to have one come close enough to the ship that we picked it up with a dip net.  The creature really is magnificent with its curling, streaming tentacles and beautiful shades of blues, pinks and purples. I was even able to hold it (with protective gloves on of course) while transferring it from the net bucket to the little aquarium for its display. Not everyone can witness these incredible organisms so closely without it being an unpleasant experience.

In a little less than a week we will begin our Junior Watch Officer (JWO) phase of the program.  It still seems a bit intimidating at this point but I’m sure when the responsibilities are put completely on our shoulders we will all step up to the plate.  I have nothing but confidence in my shipmates and I have had an excellent time with all of them through this adventure.  I will treasure these last few weeks aboard the Cramer because an experience like this won’t happen twice.

To our dear maritime studies professor: Liz, today we received your heartfelt (and hilarious) message.  I want to thank you for getting that to us; I know it was appreciated all around.  We sincerely miss you and wish you could be aboard with us.  Through your outstanding teaching during the shore component you have helped us in this amazing transformation we have gone through from shore to sea.  Thank you again, and I hope you are well.. 

Happy Birthday to Dawn’s mom! And a hello from all my shipmates to their friends and families (especially from Will.)  To my family and friends, I’m glad I was able to contact some of you during my port stop, I’m excited to see you all again and as I said before to share what occurred on this epic voyage with you. 

Loving life at sea,
Katie.

Apr

19

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Wednesday, 18 April 2012
Time:  1800
Southeast of Bermuda, 31o 54.5’N x 064o 04.6’W
Heading:  170 psc under sail
Speed: 5.5 knots
Weather: NNW wind F4, low cumulus, 22oC
Photo caption:  St. Davids lighthouse marking the entrance to St. Georges harbor Bermuda

This morning found the crew of the Cramer bidding farewell to the snug harbor of St. Georges Bermuda and heading out into the Atlantic.  The shift from life on a ship anchored in harbor to that of a ship underway can be one of the hardest transitions for a “green” crew; luckily that is not what we have!
   
This morning the watch on stowed all of the gear that only gets used in port including sail covers, boarding ladders, snorkel gear and a large awning to shade the otherwise exposed Quarterdeck. At 0800 sharp the watch lowered away the small boat so that I could go back into town to present the ships papers to the customs officials and be cleared to depart Bermuda. When I arrived back at the vessel, everything was shipshape and in order so we hauled back the anchor to “short stay” (or just enough chain to hold us in place) awaiting the arrival of our pilot. At 1000 the pilot came aboard, we had a short discussion of my plan to depart the harbor and Cramer was underway in minutes.  The pilot, a veteran of over 30 years in Bermuda waters, commented on the quality of the crew and how little of his guidance was needed, I quickly told him that we were only part of the way into our voyage and he should see how good we are by the end!  By 1030 the pilot was saying his goodbyes and the crew was busy setting sails. By the time the pilot boat was clear of our side the watch had set the Mainsail, Staysails, Jib and Topsail and Cramer found her rhythm making 6kts to the South East. As we sailed clear of the shoals surrounding the island the voice of “Bermuda Harbor Radio” hailed to wish us a pleasant & safe sail and that it was a pleasure having our ship visit their shores” I think the pleasure was ours.

As sunset approaches and Bermuda sinks below the horizon I take a minute to reflect on the events of the day, it makes me wonder.. What did you do this morning?  This crew can answer that question with a proud smile!

Hope this finds you all well, keep watching for updates as we head south.
-Tom ‘Sully” Sullivan

Apr

18

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Mid Cruise Report - C240
0900 on Tuesday, 17th of April 2012
Anchored in St. Georges Harbor, Bermuda

Light winds from the NE, Beaufort Force 3.  Cumulous clouds are building
with light showers in the afternoon forecast.  A pleasant 21.4°C.  Port
Watch has the day off, Starboard Watch has the ship. 

A simply lovely day that began with the sun rising over Bermuda filling the sky with a palette of warm hues that made a pleasing accoutrement to the characteristic multi- brightly - colored architecture of the island.  No surprise then to be greeted ashore with warm smiles and a welcoming, friendly disposition by all island residents and visitors from around the world.  Here in the middle of the North Atlantic where winds and currents converge, so too will you find a harmonious mix of cultures whose manner and demeanor is a fair reflection of the weather.  Yes, Bermuda has been, and continues to be a wonderful port stop for the crew of C240; and I don’t mind saying that this is a well-deserved treat for the entire ships company.  In particular the student-crew has truly earned their shore leave.  Since we are close approaching the mid-point of the cruise I am happy to reflect upon, or more simply put brag about, the many accomplishments of class C240 thus far. 

Learning how to sail Mamma Cramer…check!  By the ships taffrail we have logged 1120 nautical miles safely passed under the keel; a far majority of that while under sail.  The students have set and struck every sail available and thus exercised the many lines used to harness the winds energy to our benefit.  It has become habit now among the students to notice a shift in the wind, a subtle change in the direction of the waves and swell, to note the importance of new cloud formations that onshore would often go unnoticed and unappreciated for imminent change in weather they foretold. The sounds and smells of a ship underway are now as familiar to them as their backyard at home.  If there is anything out of place on the Cramer the students will now notice, and nothing less than this meticulous vigilance will keep the captain content.  If there was any doubt how far the students have come as sailors it was put to rest upon reaching Bermuda.  The captain has issued that students are to take anchor watch through the night while the professional crew is stood down (albeit always “On Call” for any questions, concerns, or doubt).  Such responsibility for the safety of the ship would not be handed over to any land lubbers, only trusted members of the Cramer crew would be given the honor.

Learning the oceanography of the western North Atlantic Ocean…check!  We have logged 44 scientific stations since the students joined the ship in Key West.  Our quest for knowledge, our pursuit of answers to the myriad scientific studies proposed by the students onshore, began literally moments before the students boarded the Cramer when we collected beach plastic samples for William.  Sample collection and processing hasn’t missed a data point since.  In fact as I have been writing this note Terese and Jimmy have just returned from a small boat ride with the captain to collect samples for their experiment on ocean acidification.  Katie just finished identifying the larval stages of her phyllosoma (spiny lobster larvae), and the lab is busy determining the concentration of dissolved silica (SiO2) in water samples we collected for Peter’s project on phytoplankton distribution along the cruise track.  All that progress just in the past hour! 

Other science highlights include species identification of fish larvae by Matt and lantern fish by Dawn.  Brian and Kayla dissected their first lantern fish yesterday and recorded the diversity of zooplankton ingested fortunately no plastic was observed.  Patrick has been describing the color combinations of migrating copepods while Crystal has catalogued various fish adaptations observed among deep sea fish collected in our nets.  Anna has weighed all of her plastic samples collected from those same net tows and Tori has already started graphing her data on eel larvae (leptocephali) and related those numbers to the amount of Sargassum weed present.  Speaking of Sargassum Max has been keeping track of Sargassum sightings every hour (with the help of all his shipmates) since we left Key West.  A surprising trend to report is that in the middle of the Sargasso Sea we have not seen any Sargassum!  Some strange things are afoot this year in the North Atlantic! And finally, we have recently been collecting large numbers of gelatinous organisms in our net tows for a study proposed by Kim.  Though Kim has sadly departed the ships company to take care of her ankle, we promise to continue our collection of critters and thus allow her complete the study at a later date.  Yes indeed, the students of C240 are learning a ton about the oceanography of the North Atlantic. 

Learning how to be shipmates…check!  Life aboard a sailing ship is often likened to a visit to a foreign land where language and customs are unfamiliar, even the laws of physics seem to operate differently (think gimbaled tables…which way will the food fly if I put my elbows on the table??).  The newest immigrants to Cramer-nation have become more than friendly and courteous guests, but rather full-fledged citizens.  How to walk, how to talk, how to respect and care for the ship, your shipmates, and then yourself; in that order, has become a matter of routine.  It has been a pleasure to welcome the class of C240 onboard the Cramer, and for all of those keeping track of their loved ones- family and friends onboard the Cramer- know that you should be proud because I certainly am.  I for one could not ask for a finer bunch of shipmates!

All of this and to think, we are only halfway through this amazing adventure.  I can only imagine what is in store for us in the weeks to come. Please stay tuned. 

Cheers
Jeff - Chief Scientist

Apr

17

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Date: 16, April 2012
Time: 22:00
Location: Anchored in St. George’s Harbor, Bermuda
Weather: Slightly Windy, Full Cloud Cover, 20 ̊ C
Photo Caption: The Cramer Crew says goodbye to their shipmate Mama Kim as she departs from us in Bermuda.

It’s our second day in Bermuda! The Cramer’s crew has been split up into two watches for this port stop, the Starboard Watch and Port Watch. The Starboard Watch, which I am on, was able to go ashore to explore the island while the other worked on the boat. Tomorrow, the roles will be reversed. After being at sea for a few weeks, everyone is super excited to be back in on land for this short period.

I will try to recreate the events of the day for you. Everyone was up bright and early for breakfast at 7:00. Soon after, the Starboard Watch loaded up the small boat and made their way across the Harbor to town. There were so many things to see and do, but only one day to do it. We split into smaller groups. Some people went on hikes and explored the natural scenery of Bermuda, while others went elsewhere.

My group, which consisted of Katie, Dawn, Matt, Kim, and Laura, spent the morning at the Aquarium and Zoo. The exhibits were very cool and there was so much to see. We were having so much fun that the time just flew by.. Before we knew it the clock read 12:30, which meant it was time to bring our shipmate Kim back to the town square so she could make it to the airport. She had to leave us due to medical complications and will be greatly missed on the Cramer. It was very difficult for the crew to say goodbye to our friend and some tears were shed. The ship will feel very odd without her presence, but she is in our thoughts and prayers. 

Later, we had lunch at the White Horse, which is a famous restaurant in Bermuda. After, everyone really wanted to get in contact with their friends and family, so we were able to call home and connect to the WiFi at the Yacht Club. It was wonderful to reconnect with everyone back home after being out of the loop for so long. I think a few of us have been feeling a little homesick, so it was much needed.

After everyone had a chance to talk to their loved ones; Dawn, Katie, and I did a little shopping and jumped on a bus to see the Crystal Caves. The one place that was on the top of my list to see, but sadly when we got there it had closed for the evening. I’m still super bummed, but that just gives me a reason to come back some day.

Since we were quite far from town, we took a little walk and stumbled across a bar and grill called The Swizzle Inn, where we decided to stop for dinner. We met an interesting bunch of people, a few from Canada, Vermont, Wisconsin, and some native Bermudians. Everyone was super interested in hearing about our journey on the Cramer and our research. We had a lot of fun hearing stories about them as well. Everyone on the island has been very friendly and hospitable.

Soon after dinner, we caught the next bus into town and then met our small boat to get back onboard the Cramer. Upon arrival, we discovered Mitch, one of the scientists, had begun arranging a choir among the students. We have quite a musically talented bunch.  I really enjoy hearing my shipmates play guitar, ukulele, or sing on our long trips across the ocean.

Overall, this experience has been absolutely amazing! I have learned so much about sailing, science, and myself. The program really opens your eyes to a different world. It also pushes you to face some of your fears, like in my case climbing aloft. I’m so glad I was able to take part in this. I would recommend this to anyone. I can’t wait to see what comes next on this exciting journey of ours!

Before I go, I’d like to give a shout out to my Mom, Dad, Mike and all my family and friends that may be reading. I miss and love you all! I hope everything is well back home! I can’t wait to see everyone and catch up!

-Terese Mayerle

Apr

16

C240 Ocean Exploration

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15 April 15, 2012
Time: 1915
Anchored in St. Georges Harbor
Weather: Calm, 1/8 cirrus clouds, 21̊
Photo caption: Group photo with a local Bermudan, non-profit organization after a successful beach clean-up.

Here we are in Bermuda!!!! After seeing Bermuda, a tiny break in the endless horizon, yesterday afternoon we have been busy preparing our arrival and early this morning we made port. The day started early for everyone although A-watch has been up since 0300. Nonetheless there was excitement and anticipation in the air as we approached St. Georges harbor, Bermuda. In a very short time we were alongside and cleared costumes and before 0900 we had anchored in Powder Hole in St Georges harbor.  B-watch took the deck and cleared away lines and fenders while everyone enjoyed a short nap or quiet moment before our afternoon field trip to land and more specifically the Bermuda Institute of Oceanic Studies and Whalebone Bay.

The first moments back on land felt, strange almost surreal. We temporarily stepped off Cramer and into a place of normal schedules and common things like cars and cell phones. Also the world was strangely solid and it did not rock or sway. But it was also comforting, although we are thousands of miles from home, this place was familiar, like other tropical lands it had lush green plants brightly colored houses and things we inherently know and understood. I am happy to report that there were no accidents although some people struggled to walk straight and the speed bumps tripped Crystal up a couple of times.

Whalebone Bay was the perfect afternoon activity. We took a scenic walk to get there along the old railroad which just so happens to also be right on the coast; where we had beautiful views of stunning blue water. Once we reached the beach we were able to give back to the community by helping with a beach cleanup. There were colorful trash bags and in no time we were all on the ground picking up plastic pieces. Per Jeff’s request we specially collected nurdles, small round plastic pellets that come from shipping vessels- plastic before it is shaped and formed into an object. We were also able to swim and snorkel.

Now back on mama Cramer we are tired and happy and looking forward to exploring Bermuda on our day off.

To my family I’m thinking of you are sending my love! Can’t wait to tell you all my stories and look for a post card in the mail. Sorry Jonathan but you won’t be getting one seeing as I don’t know your address. 

And to our shipmate and friend, whom we all call Ma, we will miss you dearly and are all hoping for a speedy recovery.

Until next time,

Anna Yoors

Apr

15

C240 Ocean Exploration

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14 April 2012, 2030
32◦03.8’N X 064◦31.2’W
Heading: 080◦T
Speed: 3.9kt
Weather: 17◦C Winds out of the NNE, Force 5, Seas out of the NNE with 5ft swells.
Photo Caption: Will and I rapping about Copepods and Ostracods for a science presentation!

Tori Pinheiro
   
I’m back on Cramer!!! It literally feels unreal to be back aboard this fantastic ship. After disembarking from my first voyage a little over a year ago I didn’t go a day without thinking about boat-life and all the struggles and victories of adjusting to and then thriving on life at sea. Which has been AWESOME! Boat-life is ridiculous. The picture above was taken at the conclusion of Will and my creative presentation about Ostracods and Copepods (two planktonic crustaceans frequently encountered in our nets), we wrote a rap song and performed it for the crew (needless to say we got quite a few laughs). There have been so many funny times and epic moments already: I got completely decked by a rogue wave that came over the rail while we had the deck-doors open to deploy a tucker trawl. There were at least five other people at the rail and they barely got sprinkled, but I was drenched! Everyone got a good laugh out of it, claiming I’d disrespected Neptune by refusing to sprinkle the net’s release mechanism with warm, freshwater before deploying (one of the many superstitions on Cramer, including never touching the Vindershtalker, the incessant battle against the forces of mung [you don’t want to know what mung is] and no whistling). Turns out they were right, because it I got decked by a second wave again today. After shaking my fist at the ocean in fury, we lost the collection jar off of our neuston net (and an entire mile’s worth of plankton samples). Neptune strikes again. I’ve been thinking of creative ways to apologize, I’ll keep you all update with my success in a later blog post.

Yesterday night, on evening watch (1900-2300), our watch was the first to sight the glow of Bermuda on the horizon. I was junior watch officer of C Watch and was thrilled to be the one to tell the Captain we’d sighted land. All of us started excitedly discussing the prospect of being in a tropical, foreign place after so many days at sea. While we were still trucking upwind to get to St. Georges at 1000 this morning, two humpbacks starting breaching just boat-lengths from the ship! You could hear their massive exhales as they surfaced and shot plumes of water into the air, the whole crew was whooping and hollering at the show they were putting on, it was unreal!

There really is nothing like living on a ship, and the sense of contentment that you get from waking up and going out on deck and seeing nothing, absolutely nothing but ocean for days and days. What a wonderful thing we’re all doing.
Cheers,
Tori

P.S. Beijinhos to Mom (Happy belated Birthday Mom!! Hope you had lots of fun) and Dad (I bet the boat is looking all spiffy and is about to go in the water) and Va (I wore the new shoes you got me in Key West, I love them!) and Vo (Welcome home from Tortola!) and Mia (Miss you sissy! So many stories/adventures to tell you about!)  and any other friends/family that are reading this! I’m having an amazing time!

Apr

14

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Friday ‘the’ 13th of April 2012
GPS: 31◦ 56.11 N x 65° 59.18 W
Speed: 4.5 Knots
Weather: NxW winds, 18°C
Heading: 080°psc

Image caption:  Hauling on the mainsail halyard.  Down the line we have:  Laura, Brian, Katie, Me, Terese, Peter, and Will

Kayla Lubold

I started the day off with my daily wake up from C Watch. It was 0600 and I was told ‘breakfast is in 20 min and I’m your watch at 0700’. It is day three of phase two and I’m scheduled to be on deck with Max. In phase two a student shadows their watch officer.  Today I was chosen to shadow our 3rd Mate - Mackenzie. My first reaction was ‘great I would be shadowing on the longest, busiest Watch of the day - 6 full hours including a science station- I was nervous to take the position.

Throughout the watch I was in charge of getting the daily duties done before 1300. At every hour we need to record the Deck Hourly in the Log book.. We record our course steered, temperature, cloud type, wave height, and wind direction along with many other things. Boat checks also need to occur every hour, to make sure things are in their proper places and are working correctly. Today on my watch the lab had a Neuston deployment scheduled for 0930. In order for the Neuston to occur we needed to do quite a bit of sail handling.  We had to haul on the braces, sheet in on the stays’l , pass the storm trys’l and gybe the Cramer.  In fact we had to gybe twice to get the sails in the proper position for a neuston tow. I was in charge of calling the commands. I’ve done that before but not with that many sails all right after another.  It went well and when I forgot what to call out my shipmates were there to help me out. After we gybed and handled the sails we got the ship to travel at 2 knots (A perfect speed for a Neuston Net). A Watch then shot sun lines and plotted them on the chart. I learned how to use the RADAR and keep track of traffic. We had a tanker on our RADAR and I used a tracking sheet to figure out the direction it was going and where the CPA (Closest Point of Approach) was.  It was a very busy day and a lot needed to get done. It was fun at times when I realized I knew more than I thought, but it was also a very stressful watch.

After watch Max and I presented the weather and navigation report to the class. During class we had our mentor meetings then had time to work on our oceanography projects. Brian and I went to the lab to process myctophids (lantern fish with bioluminescent photophores).  We were excited because we finally caught some bigger myctophids (46mm) which makes species identification tons easier.  Right now our processing consists of identifying each species of myctophid, their length, and mass.  We use a handy dichotomous key that’s in our Myctophid Bible. It’s extremely useful since there are over 200 different species.  Hopefully our next processing step- dissecting the myctophids!-  will happen soon.

Things have picked up in the last few days; more assignments, check list items and responsibilities. It’s been super fun and I’ve learned a lot so far.

Family & Friends-  Hope your all doing well. I Love and miss you all.

Carla says HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!

Apr

13

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Thursday, April 12 2012
Time: 1900
Location:  31°42.5’ N x 69°47.0’W (noon today)
Heading: 090
Wind Speed: Force 4
Cloud Cover: 6/8
Air Temperature: 19oC

Image caption: Deploying the hydrocast

Though my day was supposed to start at 0620 this morning, the symphony of shuffling plates, sliding cups and things falling in the galley woke me around 0030. Upon waking up, I sat in bed listening to the sounds around me that could only be created by the Cramer: the water swishing against the hull where I sleep, the chirping created by the machine that measures depth, the hourly crew member doing a boat check. All these sounds have become daily routines and ensure that the ship is functioning properly. I laughed to myself as the echoes of my home for the next four weeks lulled me back to sleep.

When I did finally start my watch at 0700, it was my first day of phase II, meaning more responsibilities. I was in the lab and had to make sure that the deployments occurred smoothly, safely, and that proper steps were taken towards processing. Deployments began with the Secchi disk, which measures the 1% light level, followed by phytonets and last the hydrocast.. I had a great time calling commands for the wire and J-frame. “Wire in, wire out, wire stop, j-frame in, j-frame out and j-frame stop” are now permanently part of my vocabulary. It was also awesome being a dancer for the hydrocast (also known as carousel) because I was just a few feet from the water as it was lowered in.

As the semester goes on, more data for my project is filing in. I have about thirty myctophids (lantern fish) to identify so far but I am excited to keep up the processing. They are such cute little guys!

To my family and friends, I miss you all!
Happy Birthday Mom! I know it’s in a few days but I love you and I hope it’s a good one.
Dad, don’t worry I’m doing well, we should be in Bermuda soon, and I’ll try to call if I can. Love you, see you soon!
Songer, take care of our boys! I can’t wait to spend the summer chillin with you. I love and miss you and our lil family!

-Dawn Rivera

Apr

12

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Location: Sargasso Sea, 31o 34’N x 069o12’W
Heading: 090o
Speed: 3 kts
Weather: Clear, Cumulus, 21oC

Image caption:  Hauling in the Neuston Net full of ‘critters’. 

Wake up this morning was at 06:00, I wiped my sleepy eyes as I sat down for breakfast with my watch, (C Watch) before our morning shift (07:00-13:00).  We had eggs, biscuits and gravy, and pineapple for breakfast, not a bad way to start the day!  Charlie, our “culinary chef” feeds us extremely well at every meal. The food is so good!  We all fueled up for the long watch ahead of us. This morning I was in the lab - the students in each watch rotate through lab, deck and helping out in the galley (kitchen).

Today was the last day of Phase 1 here on the Cramer, Phase 2 starts tomorrow. This means we will be assigned new Mates and Scientists to guide us along and our leadership responsibilities in all aspects of ship operation will increase. The goal is for us, students, is to eventually be “running the show” on the ship. This is a large feat but we eagerly accept the challenge. I will miss our current Watch Officers, Mackenzie (3rd Mate) and Carla(1st Scientist).  They were a lot of fun and very helpful! Thank you guys, I will see you on the boat haha!

Today in the lab, we deployed a Neuston net to collect experimental samples for numerous student projects such as plastics and various marine ‘critters’ including:  leptocephali [eel larvae], phyllosoma [lobster larvae], copepods, and many more. I became thoroughly acquainted with the procedure of deploying and processing the Neuston Net as many of us have. Carla and I even had to perform a rescue mission on the Neuston Net since it was hugging the boat too much. After adjusting our lines that maneuvered the net out into the water we were back in business and the net was back to contently surfing the water while collecting us our scientific data.

Everyone gathered out on the deck for class at 14:30. While most college students are stuck inside a building with little windows to peer out, we are fortunate to be out on a boat with an unbelievable, 360o degree view of the seas around us. It is absolutely incredible! Today’s lesson was an introduction to navigating by the stars. We have already begun to measure star distances from the Earth with sextants but soon we will be computing the figures in order to navigate by them. Our calculations for our sun lines were due today so now we are moving on to new material. The learning never stops here on the Cramer-we are learning the language and customs of old fashioned sailing.

Although it happened yesterday, I have to mention that C Watch went aloft – that is to say we climbed up the rigging and onto the mast. It’s about a 75 ft. climb and I was scared all the way. Many of us including Peter, Tori, Will, John, Carla, and Mackenzie climbed to the top. I had to push past all my fears to reach the top which is kind of a metaphor for what it takes to succeed in each of the academic Phases here on Cramer - we are all individually tasked with the challenge to face our fears, to step forward and take the lead, and to overcome all odds.

Family-I miss you and love all you! I am looking forward to being reunited.
Matt, I love you sweetheart! You are my sunrise and my sunset! I miss you and I have been writing you letters
Buddies back home-I miss you all and I am looking forward to summer and senior year!

Crystal Hartley

Apr

11

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Tuesday April 10, 2012, 19:12
31°6’N x 71° 18’W
Heading:  77° True
Speed: 5 Knots
Weather: 15-20 Knots, 5/8 Altocumulus Cumulus, 23.5°C

Photo caption: The great ascent!

Max Abrahamson
The sun rises on April 10, 2012, and what a beautiful day it is to be sailing along through our dear friend the Sargasso Sea! I can honestly say it is a time of a lifetime, full of great views, friends, laughs and lots of labor!

In the past week and a half, my hands have grown accustomed to the course tug of a line and the strong scent of sweat familiar to any crew member aboard the Cramer. Yes, my blisters ache as they tear away with each call of “haul away” from our 1st mate “Sweet Caroline,” but I have no regrets. The sense of camaraderie gained from these, sometimes, back breaking exercises is rival to none. A true sense of family has been built upon the hours of toil, ensuring the next four weeks to be even more exciting and enjoyable.

A bit of my day:
Today A watch had/has the 0700 morning and 2300 midnight watch. As previously stated my blisters had begun to peel and was therefore fortunate enough to land galley duty for the morning. This duty consists of assisting the steward with any task around the galley, the majority being food preparation and dish cleaning, which allowed my hands a nice soothing soak in the warm dish water. (An additional benefit being that while dicing apples I happened to get a small pre-lunch snack) I really do enjoy cooking. So just being in the presence of an oven and stovetop again is a real treat, let alone when you find out the cook (steward) is from Minnesota too! It’s great to be in good company again! Ha-ha, just kidding, I love the friends I have made from al l over the country, but there are some things that Midwesterners, particularly Minnesotans, do best, and it is nice to be in company with someone who also understands things for the way they are . Cramer’s crew actually has a strong showing from home. In addition to the steward, my classmate Terese and our engineer Pete hail from Minnesota. Next to that, one of our assistant scientists is from Wisconsin and our chief scientist Jeff at least went to grad school in Madison, so I guess we can count them too.

Now to the exciting part! During class today, we studied oceanic critters in a particular humorous way, Zooplankton charades! A most entertaining event; as class always is onboard the Cramer. However, my real pleasure was in the day’s ascent into the lower stratosphere. As part of our deck checklist of responsibilities and knowhow, we became qualified to go aloft, up, up, up into the rigging. So today, I took advantage of the fine weather to do just that. The mainmast of the Cramer is no mere pole. Reaching over 100’ into the sky and only being held on by my own hands and feet it becomes quite the mountain. Not to mention the oddly angled shrouds and minute ladder rungs required to reach the summit. I hate to bring a moral into the story but this example is exceptionally fitting for many aspects onboard the ship and perhaps to our lives. As I approached the peak of the mast I became troubled, whether it was from the increasing winds, difficulty of the climb, or the mere fact that I just looked down, it’s hard to say, but some great obstacle lay in my path..

My immediate situation reminded me of the steep learning curve I had traversed learning to sail a tall ship:  for one I was in fact trying to overcome a very specific part of a tall ship, and two I was indeed in a very steep situation. Just as I had struggled to remember some of the 75 lines rigged to handle sails onboard the Cramer, I was able to rely on my confidence that I was well prepared and knew that through some deliberation I could produce a solution. I had passed the test granting me permission to the top of the mast and why should this little hiccup deny me the access. I said to myself, “Get up that ladder! You deserve it,” and so I did and so should you!

I’d like to send some love to my friends and family back home. I miss very much and look forward to seeing you guys in May!

Thank you so much for your time.
Hoping all is well.

-Max

p.s.Congrats again to Tika & Will
p.p.s. Mom I will make sure to try and call you from Bermuda.

Apr

10

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Monday, April 09, 2012
Time: 1800
Location:  300 2607 N x 730 08.0’ W
Heading: 0700
Speed: 5.3 kts
Wind Speed: 11 kts
Cloud Cover: 4/8, cumulus and cirrus
Air Temperature: 23o Celsius

Photo Caption- Terese Mayerle uses exquisite form finding the tops’l sheet during today’s pin race.

After the nasty weather that we received over the weekend, every crewmember aboard the Cramer has enjoyed the sunny rays we felt today. The temperature has been perfect all day, and over the past two hours a healthy breeze has filled out of the SW. We have been sailing under the three squares and the mainstays’l since 1300.

As a proud member of B Watch, I will relay to you landlubbers the happenings of our past few watches. I should mention that the members of B Watch were the first to go aloft yesterday. The five of us (Dawn, Anna, Patrick, Matt and I) climbed the rigging of the foremast. Each member climbed to a comfortable level, with a few of us reaching the top section of the mast. A select few of us even made it out on to the tops’l yard. It was an awesome experience that every student on board will be able to recreate soon.

Last night, we were on watch from 1900-2300. The weather was clear and beautiful, but with little wind. Just after civil twilight (1948), and with no moon, the stars began to come out. I have never seen so many stars in my life. Each one was recognizable and distinct in the sky, with many constellations in perfect view. However, when the moon came out around 2100, most of the stars went in to hiding and only the brightest ones remained.

The moonrise was an incredible sight. It first appeared as a faint yet distinct red light on the horizon. As the upper and lower limb came in to view, the boldly colored red-orange moon turned to a fading orange-yellow. The color continued to change dramatically as the angle of the moon increased, until we were looking at the standard bright white orb by 2200.‘Twas quite the sight.

B Watch also held down the fort during morning watch, from 0700-1300. I was in the science lab with Anna and Chrissy, where we deployed a Secchi Disk, three Phytonets and a Hydrocast.

Post-watch, during class time at 1430, the professional crew members of the Cramer ran a ‘pin race’. Each watch, A, B and C, was lined up on the quarterdeck. One of the assistant scientists gave us a line to find on the boat, and we raced (max speed was a swift walk) against the other watches to find them. Obviously, B watch won; we are an unstoppable force on the high seas. To celebrate our victory we formed a Conga Line and danced around the entire deck of the boat. Besides that, today has been low-key. Many students have been working on their individual projects and assignments due over the next few days.

To all my friends and family at home, hola! I hope that everyone is happy and healthy.
And whether you are in Maine, New York or Virginia, I will see you soon.

Best,
Jimmy Rohman

Apr

09

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Easter Sunday, 08 April 2012
Time: 2100
GPS: 290 35.5’ N x 0740 22.6’ W; Sargasso Sea
Heading: 0600
Speed: 1.6 knots
Wind Speed: BF 1
Cloud Coverage: 0/8
Air Temperature: 18.50 C

Image caption: Captain Sullivan explains to me, the finer points of helmsmanship.

William Melvin

C Watch and I completed a lot of tasks in the 6 hour duration of Morning watch. This morning I worked in the lab with Tori. We deployed and processed a neuston net tow, a dip net, and a surface station, while still helping the deck team with sail handling. We are constantly learning new science techniques and keeping track of various data.  There always seems to be some sail handling to do, and we are taught to be ever vigilant for the ship’s safety.  Despite sharing the responsibilities of the 24hr watch rotation with all the crew there always seems to be something to do. 

After a long weeks-worth of work and study it was time for some fun - the crew organized an Easter Egg hunt that involved a series of clues that led to a hidden stash of candy.  Of course, my watch (C watch) won! Good work team.

After all of the preparation and planning onshore, I am ecstatic to have finally started my oceanography research. My project is the continuation of a preliminary study initiated by a previous SEA student.  I am investigating whether or not marine plastic debris is contaminated with Escherichia coli (E. coli ) and how far into the western Atlantic Ocean this contamination is potentially carried by plastic.

I am quite proud of being chosen last night to be the first ‘mini-mate’ for my watch.  I was responsible for making sure everyone stayed on task, all weather and engineering observations were collected, and all orders were carried out; and all the while maintaining a safe environment aboard ship. This is no easy job as I learned.  Yes, I made mistakes, but I am working very hard to learn and benefit from them. I have a lot of respect for the crew members and the Captain who manage to stay on top of everything and are so willing to teach.

Before coming out to sea, I was quite worried about the quality of meals. Thanks to our wonderful stewards, we all have been enjoying 2nd and 3rd helpings of delicious meals.

In only 1 week, we have already learned so much. I can’t wait to see what these next days and weeks have in store for us. This is a life changing experience and I’m really psyched and fortunate to be able to participate in such a great program.

Thanks to everyone that is keeping me in their thoughts and prayers back home.
I’d like to send a special shout out to my mom and Nick. I love and miss you guys.

Until next time,
William Melvin

Apr

08

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Saturday, April 07, 2012
Time: 1900
GPS: 29 o30.33’ N x 075 o08.21’ W
Heading: 090
Speed: 2.8 kts
Wind speed: Beaufort force 5
Cloud cover: 1/8 cumulus
Air temperature: 24o C

Photo (Katie Carria): Jimmy wields his catch of the day: a 45-inch mahi-mahi.

Last night numerous squalls rolled through along with the highest waves we’ve seen so far, some as high as 16 ft.  We struck all sails but the ship was still being pushed along at over 4 knots. By morning we were hove to and after setting the two stays’ls and tris’l we were sailing again by the afternoon.

The weather stopped us from deploying a planned Tucker Trawl, but that did not deter those on science watch from continuing to process data from previous stations. We identified plankton instead, and this morning Patrick and Terese dissected the flying fish that fell on deck yesterday. Kayla and I examined its gut contents for our project on plastic ingestion in fish, and luckily we found none within.

Another fish came aboard this afternoon when Jimmy and Ryan hauled in a 45-inch mahi-mahi, which will be included in our lunch tomorrow.

With afternoon classes done for the week, we participated in our first Field Day, in which we scoured every surface below decks. Before we started, Carla and Mackenzie performed a “puppet” show introducing the various tools and chemicals needed for the weekly event. My watch was assigned the galley, which we sponged, scraped and squeegeed from top to bottom. It was hard work, but by dinner we were all filled with a satisfying sense of accomplishment.

P.S. In memory of a flying fish spotted off the quarterdeck this morning:

You surfaced on our ship’s port side
glistening in the sunny spray.
At your aft a massive swell
seeking you, its prey.
We prayed and cheered for your bold dash,
swifter than a gull,
but then you coasted out of sight
and smacked into our hull.

Thanks,
Brian Crowley

Apr

07

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Matt Scheuer
Friday, April 06, 2012
8:00pm
Lat: 30o11.3’ N
Long: 75o55.7’ W
Heading: 135o
Speed: 5kts
Weather: Changing minute to minute as we sail between squalls.

Photo caption: Navigating between squalls.

Lots of wildlife today. Early this morning a large flying fish decided to kamikaze aboard Cramer’s foredeck. Examining this unusual creature up-close was fascinating; we kept it for study in the lab and use as bait. An egret and kingfisher were spotted (unusual this far out) and a pod of dolphins spent several minutes playing in our bow wave this morning. We’ve seen lots of floating Sargassum seaweed, another reminder that we’re now officially off the continental shelf and in the deep clear waters of the Sargasso Sea.

Small scattered squalls continue to form, move, and dissipate in the area. The weather is beautiful while it’s clear and exciting whenever they pass close by. We’re running under reduced sail but making good headway in the squally conditions.

My watch (B) was on from 0700 to 1300 today. I was assigned lab duty with Patrick and our watch scientist Chrissy. We (and several others) deployed the Tucker trawl for the first time. The Tucker trawl is one of the nets we tow from the hydrographic winch to collect samples at depth. It is composed of three separate nets stacked on top of each other, with a spring-loaded mechanical switch that opens and closes them. The mechanism is triggered by weights that we send sliding down the hydrowire. Using the Tucker trawl, we were able to collect samples from specific depths.

The deployment was fun and successful- but as soon as we got the net back aboard, it was time to strike and furl the mainsail in preparation for another approaching squall. The squall passed, and we spent the rest of our lab watch processing the Tucker trawl catch. It yielded several interesting specimens, including our first leptocephali (transparent larval eels), arrow worms, a variety of small crustaceans, a tiny squid, and unfortunately several pieces of plastic. We also caught more larval fish- the subject of my research project.

The science and sailing have been excellent today, lots to do on both fronts. Corwith Cramer is proving to be a great ship in any conditions, and all is well on board.

Hello to mom, dad, Alex, Joan, Anna, and anyone else who might actually bother to find and read this. As awesome as the voyage and offshore life is, I miss you guys and it’s strange not to be able to contact anyone anytime on a whim.

-Matt Scheuer

Apr

06

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Thursday, April 5, 2012
Time: 1600
Approx. 220 nautical miles east of Jacksonville, FL, 30°07.8’N X 77°54.9’W
Heading: Sailing 080° True
Speed: 2.8 knots
Wind: Beaufort force 5
Cloud Coverage: 8/8, Cumulonimbus
Air Temperature: 20 degrees Celsius

Photo Caption: C-240 in science class on Cramer’s port deck in squall-force weather (Photo taken by Matt Scheuer)

Peter Wu

A day aboard the Cramer is as jam-packed and exciting as one can possibly imagine.  Her decks are bustling with activity every minute of the 24-hour day, whether it’s deploying science gear over the side or hauling in the main sheet.  Though we have only been aboard for six days, it has been and undoubtedly will be for the weeks to come an incredible experience. 

The C Watch crew (Crystal, Tori, Will, Kim, and I) got up today at 0600 to a hearty breakfast of waffles and sausage before we went above to begin our six-hour morning rotation.  I was assigned to the science lab, where Kim and I deployed TONS of science equipment, much of which is essential to my phytoplankton research.  Some of the things we looked at were light penetration through the ocean, nutrient levels, and phytoplankton at varying depths.  Kim and I learned how to deploy the notably expensive carousel nicknamed the “Rolls-Royce” of our science gear by carefully lowering it over the edge as the ship pitched and rocked in the sea swells. On deck duty, we have been continuing to learn all seventy-plus lines aboard the ship as we begin to get the feel of gybing under stronger winds. 

The day started out as a beautiful one, with relatively clear skies and a comfortable temperature.  Every day, all the watches (A, B, and C) gather on the quarterdeck (the aft part of the ship) to have a nautical science or oceanography class.  It’s a great way for the whole of C-240 to come together, since the watch schedule breaks us up into three groups that are on duty for different parts of the day.  As Jimmy and Max gave a cool zooplankton creature-feature presentation with paper puppets and haikus, light rain began to fall.  Later on, we moved out to the science deck as Jeff taught us more about how the carousel worked.  As we listened and stood in a circle around the carousel, heads down and focused on the piece of equipment in front of us, we didn’t realize the dark grey clouds bearing down on us until Captain Tom shouted out to the mates to start striking the sails.  Hard, fast rain began to fall almost immediately as we all struggled to put on the hoods to our foul-weather gear.  For the next fifteen minutes of our first squall, we all held on to the carousel, trying to listen to Jeff over the winds and sea spray that flew about.  White foam began to appear on the dark water that was a light blue just minutes before.  I’ve never seen weather change that quickly before, and though it sounds cliché, one truly begins to take Mother Nature a lot more seriously out here.

We cut the lesson short due to the weather situation, but not before singing a happy 21’st birthday to Jimmy.  We probably looked quite ridiculous out there, all huddled together in the rain and wind in our brightly-colored rain jackets singing happy birthday of all songs but it was one of those events that we all will probably remember by the time we dock in St. Croix.

Time for some shut-eye before Mid-Watch (2300-0300) tonight.  A special shout out to the Wu’s at home (Dad, Mom, Katie, Elizabeth they’ve got Mockingjay here! Ela, Sandy) and Grandma and Papa as well.  Thanks for all your support.  Hope the Sox open it nicely this year (we get score updates from Woods Hole!).

Fair Winds,

Peter Wu

Apr

05

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Wednesday, 04 April 2012
Time: 1900
Ship Position: 29°53.5’N, 79°08.1’W
Heading: 000 PSC
Speed: 4.2 kts
Weather: 1 /8 cloud cover, Beaufort Force 3, 26 °C

Photo Caption:  Mahi-Mahi jumping after flying fish off our bow (Photo Cred: Matt Scheuer)

Katie Carria

The day started for A watch at around 0620 when we got up for breakfast and prepared to go on the morning watch, relieving C watch.  There were some swells this morning that had a few of my shipmates feeling not so great, but it has calmed down since then and we are sailing right along. 

The morning watch is one of the longer (6 hour) watches.  I was assigned to the lab to do a ton of awesome science business.  We were able to successfully deploy and retrieve two Shipek grabs to sample the bottom sediment at a depth of about 800 meters.  We deployed a Neuston net tow which collects phytoplankton, zooplankton, Sargassum, plastic pieces and other pelagic organisms from the surface of the water.  Working in the lab is a great deal of fun and a lot can be learned in just one watch.

For most of the day a Mahi-Mahi could be seen off of our bow, which was jumping after the flying fish leaping out of the water.  There was even one caught on the ship’s fishing line we had been trolling through the water, however it freed itself right before it could be hauled in.  There has been a turtle sighting and a Portuguese man of war sighting (as well as a few small ones caught in our nets) and many dolphin sightings, the diversity of wildlife we are seeing out here is incredible.

This afternoon during class, a few of my shipmates gave the first science and weather/navigation reports and we had some very fun and interesting presentations of the “creature features” and then we had gybing drills. Gybing is letting the wind cross the stern of the boat, and the sails will be passed over to a different tack.  Each watch had a different section of the ship to handle for the gybe: quarterdeck, amidships and the foredeck. We rotated all the stations for each watch, so we gybed the ship four times (one for each watch and one to get the ship back on our cruise track.)  The drills really helped to familiarize everyone with the process and we are all becoming better sailors by the day!

I’m thankful we are able to write these blogs so my shipmates and I can keep all of our friends and families updated on our amazing adventure.

To Mom, Dad and Ritz I want to tell you that I miss you and love you very much and I can’t wait to tell you all about my experience at sea when I return. And Mom, happy birthday! I’m sorry I couldn’t celebrate with you. To all my friends (at home, at URI and all over) I miss you all and I can’t wait to visit you when I get back!

Until next time,
Katie Carria

Apr

04

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Tuesday, 03 April 2012
Time: 1825
Ship Position: 28°21.85’N ,  79°47.18’W
Heading :  290 PSC
Speed: 4.1kts
Weather: 5/8 cloud cover, Beaufort Force 1, 28°C

Photo Caption: B Watch casting off the carousel from the Port middeck, front
to back, Jimmy, Chrissy, and Patrick.

Patrick Mears

Finally, real sailing weather!

I awake to the, sort of, quiet sound of the ship running only by sails.  For the past few days the engine has helped us make up for light winds.  The chirp (depth sounder) still echoes throughout the ship, but the sound is easily ignored.  It is 0600 and my shipmate, Kayla, wakes me for breakfast at 0620 so that I can be ready for my watch at 0700.  I was on watch the previous night until 2300.

It is breezy on deck, with a Beaufort force of 4, great for sailing, with 4 foot waves and a clear sky.

I spend most of my watch, learning lines and skills needed to safely and effectively run the ship.  The most action during the watch occurred on the science deck.  A series of scientific equipment was to go in the water. To do so we have to Hove To on a port tack to keep the port side stable allowing the ship to drift away from our wire and equipment rather than over-top of it. 

A secchi disc, 3 phytoplankton nets, and a carousel full of niskin bottles are all part of the deployment series.  Once the ship has maneuvered into position, each piece of equipment is attached and lowered into the ocean with a ¼” steel hydrowire.  I manned the hydrowire controls for the carrousel that went down to 600 meters.

We (B watch) were relieved by C watch at 1300 and let loose on the amazing meal that our stewards, Charlie and Nate, prepared for us.

Class on the quarterdeck began at 1430 where we were given a demonstration of the weather, navigation, and science reports which we, the students will begin to present to the rest of the crew on a daily basis.

And after a long morning, B watch took a nice saltwater shower on deck.  We only get a freshwater shower once every three days. 

The rest of my time today will be spent journaling, working on projects, reading, and resting for my next watch from 2300 to 0300.

I am missing home, but loving and enjoying every bit of shipboard life.  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.

Learn to Love the Sea,
Patrick Mears

Apr

03

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Monday, 02 April 2012
Time: 2045
Ships Position: 26° 17’N x079° 48’W
Heading: 035psc
Speed: 2.6 knots
Weather: Clear, 27°C, Winds SxE F1

Photo Caption: “C Watch” deploying a shipek grab. Front to back: Will, Carla, Crystal and Kim. Photo by Pete West.

Kimberley Noonan

Today started when we relieved “B watch” of command of the ship at 0700. We had a busy morning sailing, setting sails and deploying equipment for experiments.

While standing lookout on the bow I spotted several flying fish off the port side. Around 10am we raised the Fisherman sail and shortly thereafter we used the sails to stop the ship, a maneuver called hove to. This was so we could deploy a shipek grab and collect sediment from the ocean floor. Will and Crystal did an awesome wicked job collecting the sediment. After getting back underway we deployed a neuston net, which we tow along the surface of the water to collect what is floating at the top layer of the ocean. I’m looking forward to being on Watch in the lab tonight so that I can see all the critters we caught.

Meanwhile, on deck Peter, Tori and I had fun working with the sextants sighting the sun. We also practiced plotting fixes and Tori and I did a LAN (local apparent noon). To sum it up B Watch ROCKED morning watch. Afterwards we celebrated with a group salt water shower on deck.

Later in the day the waves picked up and we experienced what it means to have “gimbaled” tables.  With the use of counter-weights the table is able to pivot, keeping the top level with the sea surface while we and the ship move around it!

I would like to send a shout out to my friends and family back home.
Lizzy, Mia and Todd mommy loves and misses you guys so much.
I will love y’all forever
Like y’all for always
As long as I’m living
My babies y’all will be.  Mommy Loves You.

Goodnight
Kimberley Noonan

Apr

02

C240 Ocean Exploration

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Sunday, 01 April 2012
Time:  1800
Southeast of Key West, 24° 23.8’N x 081° 40.8’W
Heading:  sailing 100 psc
Speed: 3.5 knots
Weather: light winds from NxW, hazy high cirrus clouds, 28°C

Photo caption:  Some of the new crew hauling away on the main halyard. Front to back we have Jimmy, Patrick, Anna, Crystal, Peter, and Matthew.

Chief Scientist Jeff Schell

It doesn’t get much better than this!  What we have all been waiting for these many weeks.  To set aside the books and start putting into practice all that we have learned.  Certainly, there is many more details to learn but at this point it is no longer a hypothetical exercise, we learn by doing.

After a restful night of sleep the students jumped right into a final series of safety training.  As the newest members of the Corwith Cramer crew each student learned their role during specific emergency scenarios and then practiced those responsibilities with numerous drills.  A busy morning highlighted with the donning of ‘gumby suits’ which always produces laughs and a great opportunity for a picture.

After a tasty lunch of stir fried vegetables, meat and a spicy hot and sour soup it was time to set sail.  With such an eager bunch of crew we had the four lower sails (main, main staysail, forestaysail, and jib) set in no time.  And soon afterward the neuston net was deployed and the oceanographic program was in full swing.

As I write B Watch has responsibility for the deck and lab.  Other Watches are stood down to rest before their turn comes up this evening.  For the next six weeks the Cramer will be buzzing with activity day and night, everyday of the week.  This could never happen without the help of our new crew.It is great to have them aboard.  So, I hope you are looking forward to following along in our little adventure.  It is certain to be a memorable one.

In the days to come we will be hearing from the students directly so be sure to tune in!

Cheers
Jeff Schell, Chief Scientist

Mar

31

C240 Ocean Exploration

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31 March 2012
Ship Position: Alongside Key West FL
Weather:  Sunny, 80f Winds WSW F2
Image caption: “A watch” meeting new shipmates (L-R) Laura, Brian, Terese,
Mitch, Max, Katie, Kayla And Caroline

On a gorgeous Key West afternoon all of the students of class C-240 safely arrived in good health aboard the Corwith Cramer.  The students dropped off their bags and began to explore the brigantine they will be calling home for the next few weeks.  The ship is buzzing with the laughter and questions flowing from her new crew.  Following a formal introduction from the professional crew regarding policies and safety regulations the students were divided into the three watches that they will stay with for the duration of our voyage.  The rest of the evening will be filled with introductions to the routines and general life aboard a sailing ship.  After a good night’s sleep and a morning of more safety training the ship will sail south from Key West into the Straits of Florida.  There is much to learn before this crew puts out to sea, but all of us are ready to learn and explore.

Regards to everyone at home following our voyage, On behalf of the crew of C-240,
Tom “Sully” Sullivan

Mar

29

C240 Ocean Exploration

The Corwith Cramer departs Key West, Florida on Saturday, March 31, 2012 with students on C-240. They plan to sail Northeast making stops in St. George, Bermuda and Portsmouth, Dominica before concluding the trip in St. Croix, USVI on Tuesday, May 8th, 2012.