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SSV Corwith Cramer Blog

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C233 Ocean Exploration


Subject: Corwith Cramer blog, March 24, 2011

Position: 18º 18.9’ N x 064º 46.3’ W
Heading: at anchor in Rendezvous Bay, St. John
Speed: 0.0 knots
Weather: looks like a lovely day for a Sierra Charlie (swim call!) tomorrow
Photo caption: Me and Sujata, hard at work in the galley.

Blog Report, March 23, 2011

Good evening from the library of the SSV Corwith Cramer. This is Sayzie Koldys, ship’s steward, dodging sleep to report that this morning we not only cleared U.S. customs in St. John’s but we also completed the C233 Neuston/Deck Challenge, with entries today by two separate and final groups: C Watch and The Crew. The Crew, made up of the three mates, three scientists, the steward, and the engineer, were challenged to beat the cruise record, set earlier in the afternoon by C Watch and Junior Watch Officer Sujata and Junior Lab Officer Amber, while accomplishing additional sail handling to offset our experience. We elected 2nd mate Dylan, decked out as a Florida tourist circa 1987, to lead us in this challenge, Captain Quilter and Chief Scientist Schrum positioned themselves on the quarterdeck to rate our performances, and the students gathered on deck boxes to keep a sharp (and dare I say eager?) eye out for any penalties incurred. The challenge? To begin close-hauled under four lowers plus the fisherman and the JT; strike the fish, the jib, and the JT; gybe; deploy the neuston net at 2 knots and tow for one half hour; process the neuston tow, including the identification of the first 100 organisms found in the net; and resume sailing close hauled on a port tack under four properly trimmed lowers flying over a clean deck all while maintaining normal operating procedures such as boat checks and hourlies. The time to beat? One hour and 20 minutes. The feeling of hauling on halyards, casting off downhauls, cranking in sheets, and sweating those jiggers? Priceless.

Under Dylan’s command and with the steward steadfast at the helm (while Junior Galley Officer Mattie held down the fort below, baking lasagna that would have made any Italian grandmother proud), The Crew braced square and struck the fisherman and the JT. Dylan, confident in his palm patterned button-down and plaid shorts, then relieved the helm to call sail handling from the quarterdeck. I went forward to help 2nd scientist Randy the Randazzler and 1st mate Ben secure the fisherman (a powerful sail with much potential for both good and evil that does not necessarily like to be tied down) on top of the lab, while the ever intrepid 3rd scientist (and always fabulous roommate) Julia leapt gracefully into the headrig to furl the JT. She was closely followed by both 3rd mate Jeremy Dann and the spritely Bengineer (so called to distinguish engineer Ben from 1st mate Ben).

Many of the students had already discovered safe and fun ways to multitask in order to shave minutes off of their times. In going last, we were at a creative disadvantage. It was Bengineer who called to 1st scientist Katy while still out on the headrig, “Bring the jib down! Bring er down while we’re out here!” With a thumbs up from Dylan, Katy cast off the halyard and Ben and I hauled the downhaul from deck while Bengineer, Jeremy, and Julia helped us haul from the headrig. Such a display earned cries of “That’s hardcore!” from a yacht sailing nearby. We then gybed to 2 knots, lowered the neuston boom, and tossed the net overboard with flair and flourish. While I kept an eye on the science deck and our fellow crew members harbor furled the fisherman, Bengineer dished up afternoon snack (courtesy of Mattie and Morgan cobbler crust divas) for us all, making deliveries to each as we worked. Meanwhile, the students leaned toward one another on deck boxes as they enjoyed their cobbler. There was, in hindsight, eyebrow furrowing and giggling, but we were having too much fun to wonder why.

The results of the Neuston classified it as a light tow, meaning it yielded less than the desired 100 or more organisms. But it was, after all, a hot day and we could hardly blame biomass for hiding out from the sun, taking siesta before their moonlight feast. Indeed, this did not deter our dedicated 1st scientist, who discovered copepods, zoea, and surf grass while the rest of us stowed the net and hoses. We reset the jib, adjusted course and trimmed sails accordingly, and made haste back to the quarterdeck to stop the clock. Our time? 1:01. Our time once penalties were revealed and assessed by Captain Quilter? 1:20, for a tie with C watch. Our downfall and the cause of at least some of the student laughter? We were so excited about completing the challenge that we forgot to log any of the deck activities (such as striking and setting sail and deploying the net) in the log book!

Of course the “competition” was all in good fun, but it’s representative of how far all the watches have come on this voyage on deck, in lab, in the galley, and in the engine room. Three cheers for all three watches, all of whom completed the neuston tows with more alacrity and dispatch than ever before! And thanks to all 18 sailors for challenging themselves, for supporting each other, and for being fabulous shipmates. It’s been a pleasure sailing and working with you all.

A quick personal thanks, as well, to Captain Sean Bercaw, who brought me down to the seas again. Grazie mille. And a shout out to one of S.E.A.‘s finest stewards, Miss Maggie Lyon, who set me on the right course from the beginning. See you in St. Croix!

Farewell and goodnight,



C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 18º 09.3’ N x 064º 35.2’ W
Heading: 135 degrees T
Speed: 3.5 knots
Weather: NE Force 3

This is Sam McKay reporting to you from the Corwith Cramer.  The Cramer and crew spent today sailing back and forth in the waters between St. Croix and St. John.  The great deck-science challenge has kept us in the same general vicinity the majority of the day.  This challenge is comprised of several sailing maneuvers and serves to test the sail handling as well as scientific prowess of each watch.  In order to complete the challenge the must start on a port tack, strike the jib, become hove-to, carry out a neuston net deployment, and return to the ship to her original state which includes setting the jib.  This assortment of tasks is done under the watchful eyes of the mate and assistant scientist who are forbidden to give advice.  Thus the students must rely on their cumulative knowledge to carry out the tasks at hand.

On the culinary front, we are still enjoying lots of fresh fruits and vegetables from the port-stop.  As we near the end of our voyage the junior stewards are continuing to make spectacular dishes.  Today’s special, cooked by Junior Steward Chris Lutz, was pulled pork sandwiches for lunch.

The crew is beginning to realize that the end of our voyage is approaching. The daily, class-time sea shanty shifted towards nostalgic today.  However, everybody seems to be enjoying the last few day before we reach St. Croix. With our proximity to land we have begun to see more and more birds, such as the one pictured on the one of the yards.  Sam McKay signing off from the
Corwith Cramer.



C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 16° 28.5’ N x 062° 23.5’ W
Heading: 326°
Speed: 6.3 knots
Status: Finally Sailing!!!

Ahoy there sailor!
This is Zak Balmuth-Loris writing to you aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer. It has been nearly 5 weeks since we arrived on the Cramer and our time is rapidly coming to a close. We (students) are scrambling to get our last tasks done while also enjoying the little time we have left. Our final research papers on our science project are due tomorrow along with our research posters which we will present tomorrow during our class time. Time really cruises by.

After a great port call in Dominica, we finally set sail yesterday afternoon. It is strange sailing again after our 72 hours off. It feels like the first day of class after summer as we rapidly have to remember all the things that quickly left our minds. Even our iron sailor stomachs seemed to stay on land as I find my shipmates leaning through the rail again. Also, my call used hands that I was so proud of have already seemed to vanish and I find myself with new blisters even though it has only been 3 days without sail handling!

It’s crazy to think that even though it’s only been 5 weeks the Cramer has become our home. I felt a certain comfort setting sail again going back to my “normal” life aboard. In a few days it will feel so foreign to lay in bed instead of a bunk, or sleep through the night without getting woken up for watch, or sit at the table and actually place your elbows on them, or shower everyday again, or be able to walk a straight line without hitting the wall. These little things that required such adjustment will now feel strange in their absence.

It’s nice to have the wind at our beam again as we stare at the beautiful islands alongside our starboard bow.  We are currently sailing past Montserrat slowly making our way to our final destination, St. Croix.  I can’t wait to see all my friends and family again (Nat, Keith, Donna and Emma), I miss and love you all. 5 more days until I’m home again!



C233 Ocean Exploration


Corwith Cramer Blog
Position: 15° 40.7’ N x 61° 33.6’ W
Heading: 350°
Speed: 3.7 knots
Status: Finally Sailing!!!

Photo Caption: The Corwith Cramer with Dominica broad on the starboard quarter

Hello from the Corwith Cramer! This is Devan McVay, of Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. I’m both happy and sad to report to you today that we are no longer at anchor in the beautiful harbor of Portsmouth. Though I loved the port stop in Dominica, it is a well known fact in the maritime world that “Sailors and ships rust/rot at port”.

At approximately 1330 today the S.S.V. Corwith Cramer left the harbor with a bang from its ceremonial mini canon that fired blanks. We sounded our horn and waved goodbye to the island and had all hands on deck to set “the four lowers”, or the Mains’l, Mainstays’l, Forestays’l, and the Jib, along with her Tops’l. It is a glorious feeling to be sailing once again!

The transition from the “at anchor” life to the “at sea” life has begun; harnesses are back on during watch, the salon tables are once again “gimbled”, items have been “sea-stowed” to prevent flying objects, anchor watches are over, J-WO/LO phase is back in session, and what everyone on the Cramer missed…sail handling!

We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in Dominica and I managed to complete my personal checklist of things to do while at Dominica;
1. Step onto foreign soil for the first time ever…check!
2. See something amazing like the worlds 2nd largest boiling lake….check!
3. Swim in as many bodies of water as possible…check!
4. Climb up a tree to pick fresh fruit…check!
5. Buy some of that famous Dominican hot sauce…check!
6. Get on das internet…check!
7. Make it back to Mother Cramer safe and sound with the rest of thecrew…check!

With everyone aboard the Cramer satisfied from our port stop we are now underway en route to St Croix!

I’d like to give a special thanks to all the staff of the Cramer for giving us, the students, a perfect port-call! I’d also like to thank all the parents and anyone else involved for making this possible for us!

Much love from all of us to all of you out there!



C233 Ocean Exploration


Corwith Cramer Blog
15 March 2011
Position: Portsmouth, Dominica
Heading: At Anchor
Weather: Sunny and Hot
Photo: Arriving Harbor

Ahoy from the Corwith Cramer, this is Bri Valenti blogging once again and very happy to be telling all of you out there that we have reached DOMINICA! It has been an amazing four weeks at sea but it is so exciting to have finally reached our port call.  This morning on dawn watch (0300-0700) we were treated to an absolutely spectacular sunrise over this beautiful island. It’s all luscious green hills and beautiful water.  I have never seen anything so amazing in my life!

Not surprisingly, there were quite a few students awake around this 0600 today and for the past few days. Our nautical science homework this week was to shoot three stars and use the information we got from the sextant to create a star fix. However, one can only shoot stars at civil twilight, when the sun has just set or is just about to rise, when the horizon is clear but there are only a few stars in the sky. Luckily, we can all pre-compute the Hc and ZN of stars by now so we can have our sextants ready to go.

Once we got a little closer into the harbor, about four little dinghies sped up beside us offering us tour guide services. We were quite entertained, especially by the names of the people operating the boats. We saw Eric Spaghetti and Alex Meatball.but we ended up enlisting the services of James Bond of Seabird for the next few days. Other friends in the harbor include dozens of Russian sailors who were arriving into port as a part of a regatta, as well as three different rusted shipwrecks that are just hanging out on the beach.

Mama Cramer will be running a little differently now that we’re at anchor.  For the next three days, each watch will have a 24 hour watch period and then two 24 hour periods of free time. During these 24 hour watch periods we will be performing routine maintenance on the ship and working on the last bits of our scientific studies. The mate on my watch, Dylan, has already told us that we have quite a bit of maintenance to be done up in the rigging which is really exciting. Going aloft is so fun and the views are incredible!

We’re all equally exited about our days off as well. We started signing up for the day trips we will be taking - from the boiling lake hike, an intense all-day trip described best by our favorite second scientist Randy “Randazzler” Jones as “Up, down, up, down, UPPPPPP, DOWNNNN, up, down.” for two hours to reach the second largest boiling lake in the world. Others are going to explore waterfalls, canoe up rivers, scuba dive, and snorkel in a “hidden reef.” Don’t worry parents, we are being encouraged to use the buddy system and have been told that this is one of the friendliest Caribbean islands.

There were some other changes to our daily lives, too. We finally un-gimbled the tables in the main saloon and we actually can shower once every day. Unbelievable. We are also allowed to listen to music in the galley and in the lab…one thing I was seriously missing. Harnesses are temporarily unnecessary (unless you’re going aloft into the rigging), and we can wear shoes without captured heels. Flip flops here I come!

The atmosphere has definitely changed aboard the ship. One can feel the sense of accomplishment of finally arriving to our destination (despite a surprise squall or two this morning and a week of hove-to) and completing the last of our scientific sampling.

Well, my shipmate Sam just found me and told me that it’s time to go on anchor watch so I better sign off. Oh and by the way, sorry to you guys back at home, we heard there was a snow storm in Woods Hole a few days ago.ouch. We’re all thinking of you while we’re in our tank tops, shorts, and bathing suits!

Mom, Dad, Mikey, I love and miss you guys SO MUCH and I’ll call you all in the next couple days!! Nana and Grandpie - see you in St. Croix smile



C233 Ocean Exploration


Greetings and salutations, fair readers. This broadcast is brought to you from the library, sponsored by sleep deprivation and a recently drafted research paper. The intrepid crew of the Cramer has finally spied its first Caribbean landmasses, which means.tomorrow we anticipate anchoring in Dominica! We have Antigua on the starboard quarter, Monsterrat on the beam and Guadalupe off the port bow. For most this translates to shore leave; for me this means the Up-Until-Now-Largely-Apocryphal-and-Soon-to-be-Legendary Nutrient Binge. Yay, project data!  Well, actually, it also means time to gallivant about the island. Despite the not wholly unappealing prospect of lurking in the lab for three consecutive days, and despite my extreme enthusiasm about chemical analysis (see the moratorium on Raye doing Winkler titrations), it will definitely be refreshing/rejuvenating to caper around on solid ground for a few hours. The words ‘boiling lake hike’ have been bandied about quite liberally in anticipation. As others have mentioned, JLO and JWO are in full swing-within 24 hours I’ve processed pH in a tutu and milled about the quarterdeck smartly in a clip-on tie, a dashing accessory indeed. Students are responsible for calling sailhandling and directing deployments, with resident mates and scientists standing by in case of emergency. Altogether we’re progressing satisfactorily, I think. Phase III requires us to rely more on one another’s expertise and experience, which creates a more cohesive crew. Tonight’s mid watch is the final round of 2300-0300 deployments, or the night club. Since the captain and chief scientist are woken up for deployments (and it takes a rather long while for the hydrowire to reach 600 meters), social interaction occurs. The discovery of an ink pad and stamps naturally led to designation for exclusive entry. I currently have a rubber duck on my cheek and the Cramer on my bicep. Appropriate attire for the festivities is, of course, mandatory. As my wardrobe consists entirely of Carhartts, the costume closet will be raided. There has also been talk of music, a rare treat with the Cramer’s minimalist approach to electronics.

A bonus is that we’re an incredibly musical class, so three-part harmony and spontaneously bursting into song are not unheard of. Harry Belafonte was the musician of choice on deck this morning. Everyone has been wandering around singing Mary’s motor sailing song-it’s firmly lodged in our collective head. Rumor has it that lyrics will be distributed before departure.

But now it’s time for class and the daily sea shanty, so on that note, farewell.

Cheers to Mother, Ron, Sorryll, Kayla, Anna, Vitamin E-Monster, Josh, Matteo, any Rockers at home or abroad, and friendly acquaintances from all corners of the world wide webbernets (Tumblr, I’m looking at you).

We anchor in St. Croix on the 25th of March. Until then I shall remain Your fearless frontline blogger,



C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 23 23’North x 064 10’ West
Heading: 140

Sailing Under the main s’l, main stay s’l, forestay s’l, jib, jib top s’l, top s’l and fisherman
Wind: NE force 3

Reporting from the Corwith Cramer, this is Cat Jenks returning to you again with hair slightly lighter and chaco tan lines more defined.  Today it is exciting to announce that we are no longer talking over the hum from the engine and we are finally sailing again. We currently have 7 of our sails set and making our way towards Dominica.

This morning on Cramer I was woken up by a chipper shipmate at 0600 to get ready for my 6 hour watch in the lab starting at 0700.  Why my shipmate was in such good spirits is beyond me since she had been up since 0230 taking care of the ship while I slept peacefully in my bunk.  The source of her energy could just be her nature, but I have a feeling it may have been do the satisfying exhaustion one gets from standing watch. 

Getting up groggy from a late night was made a lot smoother by warm oatmeal pancakes made with some TLC by my shipmate Morgan. After eating, probably more than my fair share of cinnamon toast crunch, I mustered up the energy to get up the latter and start my day.  This morning, watch was extremely busy with dip netting, sail handling and 3 deployments.  As the hours raced by there were intermittent periods of peace when watching a pod of dolphins play in our wake, watching the sun rise on deck while labeling nutrient bottles for the upcoming hydrocast deployment, and laughing with shipmates as they woke from their naps to grab pita chips from the port side deck box.

Preparing for morning watch involves a lot of thought to make sure you can make it through the 6 hours unscathed.  I think about the clothes I need to wear as morning sun rises and heats the decks. I need to make sure I have my harness, knife, water bottle, proper foot wear and enough caffeine in my system.  Now as we transition to having more responsibilities and the day where we have all the responsibilities looms in our near future, the check list of pre- watch preparations seems to exceed my brain capacity. My mind is now on the sails set, the potential weather approaching, ship traffic, science deployments, boat checks, lookouts among so many other things.  Now I could care less if I forgot my foulies or my second cup of coffee as I stand in the middle of a squall getting drenched by the rain, the only thing on my mind is how I am going to get hove-to for science or which button on the radar can tell me if this ship is coming straight for us.  As my mind races with all the things I feel I still need to learn I am calmed by the support of my watchmates and shipmates because we sail, learn, cook, and laugh as a team and a crew.

It is time for me to sign off and enjoy gnocchi made from scratch by our junior steward to then nap on a full stomach before I stand watch at 2300. On behalf of the C233 Corwith Cramer Crew I send love to families and friends. Mom, Dad, Sarah, and Pearson you will all be pleased to know that I am slowly but surely becoming addicted to crystal light and that I love and miss you all.  ADOP and MDK, loving and missing you always.

Picture Caption: Me and my watchmate Kayli Fraser dancing up a storm on the science deck.



C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 24 29’N x 65 37’W
Heading: 140ºPSC
Speed: 7kts, motor-sailing under the main stays’l and forestays’l and jib
Weather: Winds out the North at force 2

Coming to you from the south Sargasso sea, this is Dylan Clark, 2nd mate aboard the fair ship Corwith Cramer. Today was one like you read about: clear skies, warm breezes and the warm tropical sun. As we travel farther south, the sun rises higher in the sky during the day, and it gets increasingly warmer. Gone are the days of pants and jackets (hopefully!) while shorts and tank tops have started to appear on the crew while out and about on deck. Below it has been steadily increasing in temperature as well. It won’t be long before sleeping with fleece blankets are a thing of the past.

The day started for me when I got up around 1000, hungry for snack. Coming up on deck I was greeted by a platter of crackers and cheese and pepperoni that had already been worked over by B watch. After helping myself to the food, it was time for laundry. Using 5 gallon buckets, the first filled with salt water and soap, the next just salt water, then 2 buckets of fresh water, my clothes got progressively cleaner as they moved from one bucket to the next. Doing laundry by hand is quite time consuming, and I was just finishing as my watching meeting with C watch was supposed to begin. We talked about aloft safety, and were the first watch to get up into the rigging, and lay out onto the yards. Everyone had a great time, with no hesitation to climb out onto a horizontal steel pole, rocking back and forth 40’ above the water.

With phase II quickly coming to a close, we are all looking forward to phase III. While it may seem like a break for the staff, who turn the operation of the vessel, both on deck and in lab, over to the students, phase III can be the hardest of all. We let the students loose, hoping that everything we have taught them still resides somewhere in their already over stuffed brains, and when its time to strike that jib because a squall is coming, they had better be able to get the job done. The urge to offer advice and help is quite hard to suppress, and watching students flounder and freak out because they don’t remember how to gibe the boat can be painful. It is to be expected that their first turn as JWO/JLO (junior watch officer/junior lab officer) will be a stressful experience, but they also learn more about themselves and their abilities than at any other time on the trip. Everyone will get at least 2 chances as JWO, so by the 2nd time around, the stress level has gone down, they are more comfortable in the leadership role and things generally go more smoothly.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate over the next few days, and we will be able to turn off the engine and sail our way south to Dominica. Our 5 days of waiting out the weather have put us behind schedule, but not so much so that we can’t make it to our tropical destination on time.

Its time for bed, 0230 comes early tomorrow.  I’m off to dream of a northerly wind, so we can set the squares and fly down island.  I hope everyone at home warm and dry, without too much snow to shovel.

2nd Mate Dylan Clark



C233 Ocean Exploration


Corwith Cramer Blog 3/8/11

Position: 25º 31’N x 66º39’W @1800 as determined by a star fix
Heading: 140º
Speed: 5kts, motor-sailing under the main stays’l and forestays’l
Weather: Winds East, force 2

Hello again from Mama Cramer! This is Elizabeth Dorr, junior from Williams College, writing once again, after bringing you our very first student blog leaving Key West. Gosh, that feels like a lifetime ago. I already feel older and wiser since boarding Cramer, having learned so many new skills, forged new relationships with shipmates and staff, etcetera, but then again I am older …in fact, now I’m 21!!!

My 21st birthday was yesterday, and while I may have forgone some of the more traditional modes of celebration and missed my friends and family back home, this was certainly a birthday I will never forget. Midnight struck while I was on watch, striking the jib out on the headrig in the pouring rain, but my watchmates on deck sang “Happy Birthday” to me despite the squally conditions. When I came down to crash in my bunk at 0300, I found lots of handmade posters taped up all over my bunk and the main saloon. I was really taken aback by all the effort my shipmates put in to make my birthday so much fun. The day only got better after a “sleep-o-kings,” too many delicious tie-dye cupcakes, and some of my favorite foods for dinner courtesy of Sayzie and assistant steward Dan (homemade chicken fingers, mashed potatoes with the skins in, cucumbers on the salad, and a Diet Coke). Thank you to all my shipmates for such a wonderful 21st!

As if that wasn’t enough celebrating, today, we also went all out for Mardi Gras with traditional Cajun/Creole foods, a few beads, and even a King Cake (hold the gold baby Jesus, add a shiny wingnut instead).

In other news, the pace is picking up here aboard the Cramer as we are about to move into phase III and gear up for completing our oceanography research projects. After being hove-to for so long, it feels good to be working long days and getting back into a normal routine again. Here’s a short recap of some of the things we’ve been learning recently: radar plotting, Rhode Island slang, Winkler titrations, some new sea shanties, how the engineering systems on board work, sail repair, and much more. We’ve also been keeping up with our sail handling skills and emergency responses. Today we had an unannounced safety drill. I heard them cry “Man overboard, this is a drill!” as I was down in the galley, preparing dinner. I had to quickly stow my meal’s ingredients and report to my muster location. We all successfully rescued dear Oscar, the orange starboard life ring, from near peril.

That’s all for now, as we continue to motor-sail under the stays’ls through the South Sargasso Sea, dreaming of reaching Dominica on time.

Shout out to my Mom, dogs, family, and friends, who I missed out celebrating my birthday with. We’ll make up for it when I get back on shore. Also, Happy Birthday today to my brother, Scott! I can’t believe you are 40. Finally, Happy Birthday to the cadre of other Dorr family members with late February and early March birthdays. I miss and love you all!

Thar She Blows,
Elizabeth Dorr



C233 Ocean Exploration


Corwith Cramer Blog, 03/07/11
Position: 26º 26.4’N x 067º 59.73’W
Heading: 110º
Weather: Winds East Force 3. Waves 4-6 feet.
Time: 11:30pm

Hello from the Corwith Cramer.  This is Amber Howell, freshman biology major at Armstrong Atlantic State University.  Today we are in our second day underway after being hove-to from Tuesday until Sunday. After a long period without sail handling and science deployments everyone aboard is excited to be falling back into the groove of things here aboard Mama Cramer.

Since Mama Cramer is back in motion, our goal is to hit at least 6 knots, however reality hit home when we were only doing a Sunday morning bagel walk at 2 knots this morning. This resulted in us turning on the engine, or as Captain Jason said, “ask Spivak (the engineer) to give me some horses.” So, slowly but surely we are making our way towards the Caribbean!

It has been absolutely gorgeous outside after last night’s bit of squalls and rain lines. However, it was breathtaking to watch the sunset behind a giant cumulonimbus squall line yesterday during evening watch. Today the sun was warm and everyone took advantage of it by hanging out on the quarter deck enjoying the calm waters and light breeze.

Our first science deployments since being without them for five days were a success! We put out two neuston tows and a hydrocast, which all succeeded at being processed today. I know I am excited about continuing with the science deployments, and even more excited that we caught eleven more myctophids (which is what my project is based on).

This morning at snack time while taking advantage of the warm sun and some fresh watermelon (provided by the assistant steward of the day, Dan) me along with my ship mates participated in striking the mains’l. The sheer lack of sail handling for the past five days made me realize how much I love sail handling. There is nothing like all of your ship mates leaning over the top of the boom and in synchronization yelling “up, shake, aft, down,” that sets your day in the right direction.

Most of us can’t believe that we are a mere eighteen days away from completing this amazing program. It seems like we started calling Cramer home yesterday. Though we are close to finishing this journey, the most challenging part lies before us, the JWO or JLO phase. JWO and JLO are TLA (three letter acronyms) for junior watch officer and junior lab officer. Each student on their respected watch will get the opportunity to run the boat without being able to ask the mates or scientists questions. I personally think that we are all well prepared and can’t wait to start the phase on Friday!

Life aboard Cramer is a new adventure everyday where I am learning to challenge my body, mind, and spirit. The seventeen people that I was thrown together with back in Woods Hole, MA have become my best friends and have made this adventure more worth wild than anything I have ever done in my life. We go together better than turkey between a couple slices of bread, and I couldn’t have made it this far without their love and support during this challenging yet so gratifying experience. I am proud of our accomplishments since boarding SSV Corwith Cramer twenty days ago and I cannot wait to see what the next eighteen days have ahead for us. Life aboard Cramer has been the best adventure I have ever set sail on and one that I will definitely never forget. 

Sending love from the South Sargasso Sea to Mom, Big Dog, Ashli, Jarod, Anna, Dad, Jessica, and my Armstrong friends, miss you guys!

From the SSV Corwith Cramer,
Amber Howell



C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 26º 33’N x 069º 18’W,
Heading: 166 degrees T
Speed: 1.5 kts
Weather: Winds from ESE, Beaufort Force of 3, ~ 4ft seas, intermittent rain
Sailing under the four lowers: Jib, Forestays’l, Mainstays’l and single-reefed Mains’l
Picture caption: Marcella and Amelia in the chart room

Corwith Crammer Blog Report
06 March 2011

Writing from the Cramer library, this is Marcella Houghton …I am happy to broadcast that Mother Cramer sails again!

This morning dawned sunny, and the weather and sea conditions had calmed considerably from those of the previous days. Instead of 15-foot waves towering over the doghouse, 6-7 footers rocked the Cramer. The wind had softened from a Beaufort Force 7, or “near gale,” to a Force 5 still blustery, but not as risky to sail in. So, as the sun smiled down on the South Sargasso Sea through puffy cumulus clouds, we got ready to set sail.

Nearly 6 days of sailing hove-to put a temporary hold on some of our daily routines. Now that we’ve unlashed the helm from its fixed hove-to position, we’re jumping back into sail handling and science deploying. After a tasty breakfast of quinoa and plums, this morning’s watch rallied with all idle hands to set the jib. We struck and stowed away the storm trys’l (essentially, a smaller and more storm-friendly version of the mains’l). Later in the day, we unfurled the mains’l. By early afternoon, all four of the lower sails were billowed out to help us ply the waters once more. After a hiatus from line-hauling, our calluses are reawakening.

During the hove-to period, rough seas prevented us from deploying nets and other equipment, and limited our lab work. Now that the seas have calmed, we anticipate deploying the nets and other science equipment again, starting tonight during midwatch (2300 - 0300). We haven’t seen some of our favorite creatures in a while tan-mottled nudibranchs, spiny lobster larvae in the shape and color of glass shards-it’ll be like seeing old neighbors. I’ll enjoy picking through something other than the particles from each morning’s sole-scrubbing wastewater (we analyze the cleaning water for plastics, one task we could continue while hove-to).

Every Saturday, we scrub the boat top to bottom. But since “field day” requires extensive activity on deck and the boat was heeled hard (sometimes almost 40 degrees to one side!), we postponed the Saturday’s cleaning for this Wednesday. I’m looking forward to having a thorough scouring…and maybe we’ll find those five missing puzzle pieces while we’re at it. This evening we also dumped 34 pounds of food waste, glass, metal, and cardboard scraps overboard. Usually the bin is emptied and scrubbed every evening, but to be extra safe about working on deck we took out the trash less frequently during rough seas. The daily routine will likely come back into effect today, as we dump and log the trash we discard each night. Tomorrow, Monday, class starts again. I look forward to hearing more engineering reports from my classmates I think sewage is coming up…

I realize I’ve mentioned waste several times now, and indeed, it’s been on my mind. Waste is just one link in a continuous chain of nutrients and matter, a fact I sometimes forget. But here on the boat, I think more often about the fate of things I cast away: plastic, food, glass it all must either stay with me on board (plastic and toxic things) or enter the ocean (everything else). I still cringe at tipping the garbage bin over the side, seeing whole aluminum cans and glass bottles splash into the water. I know that my trash is sealed in a landfill when I’m ashore, that the land swallows the garbage like the sea does. But at home it’s easy for me to mindlessly toss stuff into the wastebasket. At sea, it’s harder to deny the law of conservation of mass the trash is still there, getting eaten now or gradually biodegrading. Tiny plastic pieces show up in almost all of our net tows; this garbage comes not from the Cramer, since maritime law strictly prohibits plastic dumping, but from a legacy of plastic disposal of sea. Their prevalence reminds me of how we can never truly run away from our messes, that we can never really throw anything “away” on this contained planet.

The hove-to period of the last six days has me thinking about the critical role of circulation and cycling in the well-being of a contained space. On the boat, we keep our air well-ventilated, our trash bins empty, and our sole scrubbed every day. The watches rotate so that each group may sleep, eat, recharge before the next shift. In a way, this boat is a microcosm of the planet; what comes in goes out, and how we take care of it impacts our quality of life.

And now I must recharge myself, so as to be well-rested for my watch tomorrow. Junior Watch/Lab Officer Phase begins soon…so as we ease out of this lull and start filling out our sails, we’ll need to pick up the slack…start our new tack…work up an appetite for afternoon snack…

A big hug and hello to Theo, Geo, Helen, Mama and Dada. And the gerbil.

And a good evening to all!
Over and out,



C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 27º 29.7’N x 069º 04.6’W,
Heading:  220 degrees T
Speed: 1.5 kts
Weather: Winds from NExE, Beaufort Force of 6

Corwith Cramer Blog Report
05 March 2011

Day five of the Corwith Cramer’s hove-to stance and the winds continue to slowly move us South. The roll of waves against our beam puts a shuffle in the feet as they edge higher than our rail. One or twice a mate has found himself drenched unexpectedly, much to the amusement of anyone nearby. On these long, uneventful watches, huddled around the wheel box with flashlight and star map in hand making the watch pass a little quicker. In this rough and persistent weather our bunks never looked so friendly at 0300.

The true sailors aboard mutter their frustrations at the lack of sailing while the rest of us sit happy as clams. Even now I can hear gales of laughter and shrieks emanating from the main saloon as another dinner comes alarmingly close to its gimbling point. Our own good cheer comes from this time hove-to that has allowed for the appreciation of where we are. Without the hustle and bustle that a usual day provides we find ourselves more aware. Walking on deck just to sit for a moment and watch the waves tumbling towards us, our little ship alone on a huge sea.

In lieu of Field Day (which, if you have not heard is the weakly top to bottom scrubbing of our dear ship) due to the impossibility of keeping even ourselves upright, the 2nd and 3rd mates, Jeremy Dann and Dylan Clark, played and sang a slue of sea shanties in the main saloon. Collectively we sang and bobbed along to the sometimes comical but always candid words of sailors past, and towards the end petered off into songs we all knew by heart for as long as Dylan would appease us with his guitar. A few good and needed hours were spent in this way, lightening even the most weather-befuddled of our crew. The winds, however, seem to be settling and I wager all too soon we’ll be happy at work unfurling, hauling, and jibing, looking up into a clear black night, a spattering of stars above our yards.

To all of you out there wishing you could see just what I am seeing, I wish you every chance to do just that. To my parents and brother whom I love and miss dearly, and especially to my father who lives for days like these, next time you’ll just have to come with me.

Yours from the Corwith Cramer,

Madelyn Woods



C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 27º 49.5’ N x 068º 50.0’ W
Heading: Hove to, travelling with the NE waves
Weather: Wind out of the NE with a BF 7, waves 10-12 feet

Hello from the galley of the Corwith Cramer, which is where I spent all of my day today.  This is Chris Lutz reporting that the when food continues to prepared with care and with a little bit of sweat and love things turn out pretty well.  I was assistant steward today, which means that I helped the steward prepare all the meals as well as make my own snacks for the crew that are served in the morning, afternoon, and night. 

While the rest of the students and crew were not too busy due to our current non-sailing status I was lucky enough to help out with one task that never ceases aboard this ship.  Even though science deployments and sail handling are not at the top of the agenda with the continuation of these large waves, the galley is one place that constantly bustles.  For me it was a great chance to hang out with people who are not on my watch and it is always nice to have new company.  After being woken up at 0430 I immediately started making French toast so that it would be ready for the first sitting of breakfast.  Immediately after making French toast for breakfast I began to cut cheese, find crackers, and assemble the mid-morning snack.  After snack I aided in making salad dressing from scratch and an interesting pasta everyone seemed to enjoy.  In the next 30 minutes following lunch I had to make an icebox pudding cake (for afternoon snack) as well as get ready for the lab practical we took during class.  From there it really got busy because we started to encounter some rougher weather while simultaneously trying to balance the BBQ pork on our wonderful stove Roxie. 

I am not sure if other students have talked about the gimbaled nature of the main saloon but without these magical tables we would never be able to eat without food going everywhere.  Unfortunately the galley is not gimbaled so when the ship moves so does everything else, and Cramer does not care whether that thing in your hand is scalding hot or not.  Luckily, those of us helping out in the galley were able to simulate the gimbaled motion of the tables and after about 45 minutes of intense cooking we put the food on the table so it could be ready for the oncoming watch to devour. Although I missed the entire day outside of the galley it flew by and I cannot believe it is already past 2100 and I have less than an hour to shower before it is too late.  Anyway, it has been another great day in the Sargasso Sea and although we are all waiting for favorable weather to start sailing again we are happy to be aboard and spirits are up. 

Mom, Dad, and Lisa hope things are well and we are selling/sold our house/live in New York now or whatever our plan is!  Anyway I love you and I can’t wait to see you in St. Croix!




C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 28º 27.2’N x 068° 32.6’W
Heading: Currently Hove To
Speed: Roughly 2 Knots SxE
Weather: Winds NE Force 7
Photo caption: Mattie, Kayli, Zak, and Madelyn on the quarter deck

Blog Report
3 March 2011

Hello everybody!  This is Mattie coming to you from the Corwith Cramer. We are currently hove to waiting for a fair wind. We have used this time to catch up on work during our lab watches and had a little time for fun and games.

Today’s class time was held in the main cabin where all three watches competed against each other in a game of jeopardy. The subjects all had to do with the lab practical that we are taking tomorrow afternoon. The questions helped us review on proper log book entries, deployment procedures and even fun facts (such as naming all of Randy- the 2nd Scientist’s- nicknames).

On a more serious note, we have switched to phase two of our trip. This means that students are shadowing their mates and scientists and leading their watches.  This has really led to an increase in responsibility and an especially increased need for time management skills. So far it has proved challenging, but all of the watches are sticking together to help each other out.

We are looking forward to the chance to get sailing again soon, so wish us fair winds and waves! Mom and Dad, I know you are compulsively checking this each day, I love and miss you!
-Mattie Fails



C233 Ocean Exploration


Corwith Cramer Blog: March 02, 2011

Position: 29 11’N x 069 07’W
Heading: 180 degrees T
Speed: 2 knts
Weather: NE Force 7
Photo caption: Rainbow at sea

Hello readers of the Corwith Cramer blog, this is Sam McKay writing about life aboard the Cramer on March 02, 2011.  Our noon position on this Wednesday is 29º 11`N and 69º 7`W.  We are currently hove to which, in this case means we have three sails up, but are using them more for stabilization rather than forward motion.  This particular arrangement of sails moves us along at approximately 2 knots.  The captain has chosen this sail technique so as to ride out the unfavorable winds and seas the Cramer is currently experiencing.  Although it would be possible to sail in these conditions, it would be hard on the equipment and hard on the people as well. Therefore, we are allowing the winds to move us South.

Along with these choppy conditions there came multiple bright moments.  As the on deck watch felt a light drizzle, they also noticed a fast approaching, incredibly bright rainbow.  This can be seen in the blog photo for the day, and when it got closer to the ship we saw that it was actually a double rainbow.  Another bit of humor involved a good hearted student who offered to help the galley prepare lunch.  However, no sooner had he been handed a large bowl of hummus to put on the table, than a wave rocked the boat sending the hummus all over the poor student.  It managed to cover him from his shorts to the top of his head. After the initial shock of wearing lunch wore off, the student was able to realize the humor of the situation and joke about it.  With the elevated sea state science deployments have been put on hold, in the interest of safety.  This gives the students who would usually be deploying equipment over the side and analyzing data to focus on their group projects and becoming more comfortable in phase 2 of the trip.  Also Katy Hunter, one of the scientists on board, would like to send her love to her cousins Quinn, Jack, Brady and Liam.  All is well as we continue to move towards Dominica and then St. Croix.


Sam McKay



C233 Ocean Exploration

Position: 29* 20.1’N x 071* 43.1’W
Heading: 97 degrees T
Speed: 4.2 kts
Weather: SSW Force 5 Squalls approaching

Blog Report
1 March 2011

Good afternoon, folks! This is Morgan Barrios from class C-233 aboard the Corwith Cramer. Nearly two weeks under sail and the excitement and novelty of every line, dolphin pod, and baby octopus still makes the crew act like kids on Christmas morning.

Last night while the third mate was pointing out new constellations to us as they rose above the horizon we counted more than thirteen shooting stars. Of course this was not until after shooting our navigation stars at twilight. I believe the class is finally getting the hang of how to use a sextant properly though the calculations for reducing each sight are still slightly elusive.

As we have rolled into phase two the class is beginning to take more and more responsibility for just about everything. Elizabeth and Amber have done a wonderful job calling sails, and Dan and Devan both commanded respect as watch officer shadows. Only one week till Junior Watch/ Lab Officer phase begins!

Before the ominous clouds rolled in this afternoon, a pod of 8-10 Spotted North Atlantic Dolphins were seen playing off the wake of our bow. All hands were on deck because class had just ended so we were piled on the railings trying to peer over at the dolphins jumping and racing along side of us. For the past two weeks crew members have claimed to have spotted dolphins, but this was the longest the dolphins had hung out so close. Seeing how care-free they were really took the stress off of our loads of school work and let us realize yet again, what an experience of a life time this is.

Thank Neptune for fair seas, strong winds, and good times! Hope all of you land lubbers are well!

-Morgan A. Barrios



C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 29°29.0’N x 075º 14.0’W
Heading: Hove To (HT)
Speed: HT
Weather: Sunny, cool

Blog Report
26 February 2011

Good afternoon from the Corwith Cramer. This is Sujata Murty, a junior at Oberlin College. Today was our second field day on the ship. Field days occur every Saturday and are basically when everybody on board works to clean the ship from top to bottom.  Our battle is against the mung, which is a disgusting brown moldy substance that seems to take over the ship if not well managed. To prepare for such a task Sam, Kayli and Cat lead all three watches in a motivational song and dance. Embarrassing dance moves definitely lifted our spirits. My watch had to clean the aft part of the ship today, including all showers, heads, ceilings, soles, woodwork, brass, fans, lights and anything else that could possibly be dirty. Even though it’s hard work, it’s really satisfying to live and work in a clean ship for the rest of the week.

Today is an exciting day for us because it is our last full day of Phase I on Cramer. Starting tomorrow evening, each watch will be assigned a new mate and scientist to lead into Phase II. For the next 7-9 days we will be given more responsibilities as we prepare to lead our watch as the Junior Watch Officer (JWO) or Junior Lab Officer (JLO) in Phase III. Each watch we will take turns shadowing our officers to learn everything about how they do their jobs. This includes how they interact with Jason, our captain, how they communicate with other vessels and how they make decisions about deployments, sailing and much more. Although we are all a little overwhelmed that we are already moving on to Phase II, there is an air of excitement around the ship.

Now that we have had time to adjust to a maritime lifestyle, we have begun working on our celestial navigation skills again. Right now we are all frantically trying to finish our first assignment of plotting three sun lines. To do this we had to use a device called a sextant to “shoot the sun” to find the angle between the horizon and the sun. From this we use a set of calculations to accurately plot the sun lines. This first assignment was challenging, since it has been a few weeks since we have used the skills we learned on shore. We’ve also begun shooting stars to get star fixes every to determine our position (we are currently not allowed to use GPS to determine our location). This aspect of navigation is definitely my favorite. It’s been great learning new constellations and stars and learning how to use them to help us navigate through the Atlantic. I can’t wait to get more practice while on watch tonight.

Even though we have been kept very busy, we miss our families and friends on land. We send everybody our love and can’t wait to see you in a few short weeks. This is Sujata signing off.

Caption for the picture: A palegic snail sometimes seen in our neuston tows, Janthina janthina floats on the sea surface with a bubble raft made of toughened mucus and trapped air.



C233 Ocean Exploration


Subject: Corwith Cramer Blog 24 February 11

Position: 28º 47.7’N x 076º 43.5’W
Heading: 050º T
Speed: 4 kts
Weather: Wind ESE F5. Sea ESE 8ft

Blog Report
24 February 2011

Hello from the Cramer Crew! This is Bri Valenti, a junior at the University of Rhode Island. Today we have been continuing east en route to our projected way point so that we can start heading south to Dominica! It is unbelievable that we are already coming to a close of Phase 1, our apprentice sailor stage, and will soon transition into Phase Two, where we begin to take on more and more responsibilities of the vessel.

We have continued to navigate without a GPS (backup only) and are becoming increasingly skilled in the art of the sextant. A homework assignment correctly using the sextant is due on Saturday, so there is always a student on deck shooting the sun. Watches have successfully been predicting LAN, Local Apparent Noon, and both pre-computing and shooting the stars. The stars are incredible during the night, unlike anything any of us have ever seen. What makes them even more amazing is that we are learning how to identify them. On shore, I looked to the stars and only saw the Big Dipper. At sea, I see Pollux, Deneb, Sirius, and SEA’s “celestial G.” 

In addition to gaining knowledge of the celestial bodies, we are learning about weather and its patterns. Everyday during class, students present weather updates and predictions for the next 24 hours. Four times a day, students also send weather observations to NOAA. Today, the weather observation for 1800 GMT that I sent in on watch showed up on the NOAA weather fax, which was very exciting.  It’s an amazing feeling to know that what you’re doing is on a much larger scale than you.

Yesterday the great semi-annual Corwith Cramer pin chase was held. There are a multitude of lines on deck that we use to control and manipulate Cramer’s sails to our advantage. For efficiency and safety, it is crucial for each student to know the name of each. What better way to test each watch on their knowledge of lines (including “pick up lines” and bowlines) than to have a relay race? Each watch lined up and one by one each member was given a card with the name of a single line on it and they were to briskly walk to the line. If they ran, the crew was standing by to call their foul and they were to crab walk back to their watch to start all over again! If they did not know the line, their watch mates were able to yell “hot” and “cold” to assist them. Of course I was thrilled when my watch, A watch, finished our large stack of cards and read off the best line of all a conga line! As the other two watches finished, we cheered on our shipmates until all students had a chance to conga.

For the past few days during class, pairs of students have been presenting “Creature Features” small presentations on zooplankton that are most likely to be caught in our science deployments. Today, the boat received a special treat when the Chief Mate Ben Hale gave his own Creature Feature presentation on the ‘terrifying” carnivorous isopod, the Bathynomous giganteus.  He thoroughly entertained the entirety of the ship with a story line of a horror film where the horrible creature attacks an oddly familiar ship and it is the Chief Mate, Bob Hall, who saved the ship…interesting choice of name. Our next presentations will be all about the engineering of our vessel, from the main engine to the water maker. Dad, I’m going to be presenting on all of the tools so get ready for me to come home and teach YOU a thing or two!

Students are putting finishing touches on their methods for their research projects and really starting to begin processing all of the data we have been collecting.  Daily neuston, carousel hydrocast, Niskin bottle, and dip net deployments have been the center of attention on the science deck. Last night during mid-watch (2300-0300) our midnight neuston tow had a tiny cephalopod swimming around in the sample!

Even though we have only been crew on the Cramer for eight days, it already feels like home. We no longer hear our data system CHIRP beep every 10 seconds, do not put our elbows on the gimbled tables, and enjoy the rocking of the boat as we fall asleep.  Although I was initially unhappy to hear that I would be most definitely getting calluses on my hands from line handling, I’m learning to appreciate the new strength and toughness I’m gaining from my days here at sea. I feel more intelligent, stronger, and more mature than I ever have, and I am having the absolute time of my life.

All in all, I should be heading to sleep because I have dawn watch in the lab and will be processing all of the data from the neuston tow and other deployments from 0300 until 0700 tomorrow. I can’t wait to see what sorts of biomass we’ll collect!

To our families, friends, and loved ones, we all miss you and miss talking to you, see you guys in a few weeks!



C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 078º36’ W x 28º38.5’ N
Heading: 018 degrees true
Speed: 2 Knots
Weather: WSW Force 2, clear skies, 24º C

It was a busy day on the Corwith Cramer today with multiple science deployments, sail handling, and a fire drill.

It was especially dark before the moon rose last night which caused the stars to stand out brighter than ever and we worked on learning the stars we will navigate by.  We looked over to see that the water mirrored the sky, with each wave caused by the ship bioluminescent organisms lit up the water. The bioluminescence is expected to continue throughout our voyage.

Our GPS system has been effectively decommissioned and we will be relying on celestial navigation and dead reckoning from here on out, (don’t worry parents, the GPS does still work, it’s just covered up).

This afternoon we jibed several times in order to avoid a stubborn fishing vessel, everyone seemed to enjoy the practice though. After our first official oceanography class aboard the Cramer we went through a fire drill and the “fire” was successfully extinguished. Everyone seems to be settling into the new routine after only six days and we are all in high spirits after our bout with seasickness has ended.

Tomorrow we have our great line chase; watches will race against each other to name the lines of the ship. We are all studying the lines in hopes of winning bragging rights among our shipmates.

To everyone on land we say hello, and send our love to family and friends as always.

(A special note to my dad: you were right, the first thing I did when I walked aboard was stub my toe. I should have gone for the Keens.)

Amelia McCallister



C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 24 º 28.9’ N x 79 º 24.3 W
Heading: 035 º
Speed: 8.2 kts
Weather: Winds are E at a force 3

Blog Report
21 February 2011

Good evening from the Corwith Cramer! My name is Kayli Fraser, junior at University of San Francisco and today we have finally picked up speed. Using our main’sl, stay’sls, the jib and the current of the Gulf Stream we are briskly heading north, along the Florida Coast.

We are currently learning about the lines and sails on the Cramer, and are also learning how to find our positions on a nautical chart using celestial navigation. This means we are using a sextant to calculate our approximate position according to the Sun’s position. This method is considered a very important navigational back-up plan, which sailors have used throughout history.

In lab marine biology is finally coming to life and we are capturing organisms that still seem to make students’ and crew’s heads turn. From the amphipod that looked like the creature from the movie Alien to the juvenile flying fish, oceanic organisms, to me, seem to be the most interesting living things on our planet.

Other than deck and lab, we are learning the meaning of hard-work and responsibility. I don’t think anybody on the Corwith Cramer will ever take advantage of a shower or ever forget to reapply their sunscreen again.

Until next time, we all send our love to our friends, families, and loved ones (Walker, Vincente, The Peg, and Flanigans) who are stuck on land; we miss you guys, and don’t be too jealous. This is Kayli Fraser signing off.

You stay classy, San Diego.



C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 24º 52.1’ N x 080º 6.4’ W
Heading: 015º
Speed: 5.0 kts
Weather: Winds are ENE at force 4, with waves at 3-4 ft.

Blog Report
20 February 2011

Hello from the Corwith Cramer! This is Dan White, senior at the University of Denver.  Today we are sailing in the Gulf Stream with the main’sl, stay’sls, jib, and jib top’sl all set.  Good news is, seasickness is beginning to subside! Everyone is on their feet today and watches are looking strong!

Today is Sunday, so there is no class or all hands meeting today.  Students are up and about learning the names of lines, calculating star sights, and practicing using the sextant.  We are also working on our checklist (finding fire extinguishers, tying knots, learning lines etc.) so that we can be cleared to go aloft soon!  3rd Mate Jeremy Dan went aloft today to do a rigging check, so we were able to see what someone looks like aloft from the deck! Everyone is excited to have their chance to try.

Science is also coming along “swimmingly.”  Our Neuston net tows and meter net tows have been very successful and we have seen some incredible examples of marine biology! This photo shows leptocephali (eel larvae) recovered from the meter net in the FL Straits.  The most exciting critter (to me) was the huge (3.5 cm) phrenomid anthropod which looks like a see through alien
lobster! Seriously…look it up!  We are looking forward to a great week ahead of us as we head north up the
Florida Coast.  Everyone sends their love to family, friends, and loved ones.



C233 Ocean Exploration

Position: 24 19.65’ N x 080 59.91’ W
Heading: 160
Speed: 2.5 knots
Weather: NE wind 5 knots

Blog Report
19 February 2011

Greetings from the Corwith Cramer! This is Cat Jenks, born and raised in Sherborn Massachusetts and studying at the University of Puget Sound.  Today we are in the Gulf Stream, moving faster now and definitely rocking and rolling.  We are experiencing a beautiful day sailing on the blue ocean with clear blue skies

Last night we completed our first Neuston Net tow at 0000.  It was very exciting to get the science portion of our cruise underway.  We saw a lot of isopods in the biomass within the tow sample.  We also caught a Sargassum Crab and a very tiny octopus.

As a crew we are still getting our sea legs as we frantically wobble around the decks making lines fast while still trying to distinguish halyard vs. downhaul and tack vs. jibe.  Although many tasks are still overwhelming while trying to get used to the waves, comfort on the Cramer seems to be just around the corner.

This morning my watch was relieved at 0700 by the sleepy and eager B watch, and I was more then ready to slip into the saloon for scrambled eggs made with love by our steward Sayzie.  After a much needed nap I was awoken by the winch doing our first CTD and Secchi disk deployments.  We have now moved from our hove-to position in the Gulf Stream, in order to use the winch, and are cruising once again at 2.5 knots.

This afternoon we have FIELD DAY! An afternoon of cleaning the ship from head to toe, or bow to stern as a sailor would say. 

On behalf of the Cramer Crew I would like to send love to families and friends.  We are feeling ship shape and still working hard on those tee shirt tans I know you all can’t wait to see.  Goodbye for now, Cramer out.



C233 Ocean Exploration


Corwith Cramer Blog: Friday 2/18/11 at 1500, Elizabeth Dorr
Florida Straights 24º21.575’ N x 81º44.947’ W
Speed 3 knots, Heading 110º
Winds out of the NE at force 3, sunny, 2/8 cumulus clouds

Hello to all ashore from the SSV Corwith Cramer! We are happy to report that we finally bid farewell to Key West this afternoon and are currently underway sailing the Straits of Florida with the four lowers set.

After standing our first dock watches last night, we ran through a series of emergency drills and more safety training before we could hit the high seas. We are all working on learning our many responsibilities aboard for all possible situations: man overboard, fire, and abandon ship. Drills went well, although a bit slow, since we are all still learning. Giggles could be heard around deck as students donned immersion suits, playfully called “Gumby suits.” These red neoprene suits will keep us warm and afloat should we have to abandon ship, but let’s just say they are not the most comfortable or attractive outfits. Especially for a vertically challenged girl like me, I struggled to see out the hood, let alone try to walk about. With our emergency drills completed, we discussed the day’s plans and prepared to head out.

Around noon, all hands worked to get Cramer off the dock at the naval base as we dodged a lot of boat traffic, para-sailors, and even a Carnival cruise ship on our way out to sea. B and C watches had the pleasure of being the first to complete major sail-handling maneuvers, raising the forestays’l and mainstays’l once we cleared the reef just South of Key West.

Lunch consisted of hot dogs, and eating for the first time on gimbaled tables was a quite an adventure. Parents, be happy to know we now understand why we can’t put our elbows on the table. Not only is it impolite, it may result in lunch spilled on your shipmates’ laps.

While some are a little green hanging over the aft rail, the majority are all smiles, so excited that we are finally underway. This afternoon we plan to do a few dip nets to collect Sargassum and hang out as we begin this amazing journey. We’ve already seen some great wildlife: Portuguese Man-o-War jellies, a sea turtle, and a few dolphins.

Our love goes out to all our family and friends back home! Wish us well as our fist day of sailing comes to a close!




C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 24 33.8’N x 81 47.9’W
Heading: N/A
Speed: N/A
Weather: East Wind Force 4, Clear skies

Blog Report
17 February 2011

This is Heather Schrum, Chief Scientist, writing from the Corwith Cramer in Key West. We spent the day in round two of orientation and training. Students have participated in a fire extinguisher scavenger hunt, watch quarter station bill training, and line handling exercises. Under the guidance of our fabulous crew, students set and furled the main staysail and jib.

On the science end of things, students have gotten an early start in their quest to run all science operations on Cramer. During training on the science deck, each student had a chance to operate the j-frame, winch, and deploy the “pig” (a weight) to simulate a real scientific deployment. Later in the day, our Assistant Scientists gave students an excellent demonstration of a Neuston net deployment. Several of the students will depend on this net to collect phytoplankton and plastic in the surface water to analyze for their individual research projects. Everyone is very anxious to get started with their own research and to, as a team, carry out all the research goals of C233!

Currently the students are putting a reef in the mainsail to prepare us for our departure from Key West tomorrow morning. From here, let the science begin!!


P.S. We have quite a few musicians and vocalists on board, and we look forward to some quality entertainment as we sail through the North Atlantic!



C233 Ocean Exploration


Position: 24° 33.8’N X 81° 47.9’W
Heading: N/A
Speed: N/A
Weather: East Wind F3, Clear Skies

Greetings from the Corwith Cramer. This is Jason Quilter, Captain for the “Ocean Exploration” SEA Semester voyage beginning today. All of our eighteen students have reported aboard the ship, which is docked in Key West, Florida. Students have moved into their new home and are beginning to learn the ways of a sailing ship.

The next 24 hours at the dock will be a thorough introduction to shipboard operations and safety procedures. Students will tour the ship and learn about the science lab, the engine room, the chart house and how to complete a “boat check”. We took a break from the training to enjoy a wonderful spaghetti dinner and watch the famous Key West sunset. Later tonight as the orientation and ship’s introduction comes to an end, the students will enjoy their last full night of uninterrupted sleep.

We plan to get underway tomorrow (2/17/11) after we complete several safety drills and additional shipboard orientation. The entire ship’s company is looking forward to setting sail and getting out to sea. We are off to a great start and look forward to sharing with you our adventures.

Fair Winds,
Captain Jason Quilter