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SSV Corwith Cramer Blog

The Corwith Cramer departed from Isle of Shoals on July 11th with Oceanography of the Gulf of Maine students. They will spend time sailing and collecting data in the Gulf of Maine and will disembark in Woods Hole on July 19th.

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C235b Oceanography of the Gulf of Maine

Southbound, Buzzards Bay
July 18, 2011

Field Day

As our epic voyage nears its end, the Cramer gets a bath!  Yeah Field Day! Every nook and cranny of this ship is scrubbed down so she can look her finest as we pull into port first thing tomorrow morning.  Unfortunately, the rest of us are not so lucky.  Most of us will be returning to the dock craving a shower and a long nap.  After days of interrupted sleep and intense manual labor, note to the parents; don’t be concerned if your child spends long hours sleeping or too long in the shower upon their return home. Shipboard life can be grueling at times and I can say that all of us are looking forward to the comforts of home.  At the same time, there is an abundance of unique experiences that will forever be cherished as we all go our separate ways.

As the steward, I’m not quite knowledgeable of all the on goings of deck life.  The lines and the jiggers and everything else are rather foreign to me however in my heart of hearts I know each of us will remember the majesty of the sun rising over the open ocean, or how the stars remained so stoic in the night sky safely guiding us into morning.  There is a calmness here that is hard to find on land.  Even in the harshest of weather, the detachment to the outside world anchors us in the present. Manning the helm, manning the stove, they really aren’t so different.  Everyone has a job to do and it’s truly impressive to see how quickly the students adapt to their new environment and embrace the challenges.  I have nothing but praise and gratitude toward all that they have accomplished and a sincere thank you for navigating me safely home.  Fair winds you sailors!

Ashley Look



C235b Oceanography of the Gulf of Maine

Sunday, 17 July 2011
42 02.3’ N x 070 10.4’ W
At anchor, Provincetown, MA
Speed: 0 Knots
Weather: SW’ly F2-3, 1/8 cirrus clouds, 26 C/79 F

Photo caption: At anchor in Provincetown Harbor, the students pore over the data from all of our sampling. Tomorrow morning they will give presentations of their findings to the ship’s company, summarizing and synthesizing what they have observed about the physical, chemical, geological, and biological oceanography of the Gulf of Maine.

After a bountiful whale-watch on Stellwagon Bank, we have paused here in Provincetown Harbor to give the students an opportunity to temporarily set aside their watch-standing responsibilities and dig into the data we have been collecting. Their presentations tomorrow will be the culmination of their formal academic work on board. The main saloon, library, and lab have been abuzz with oceanographic terminology: talk of the mixed layer, thermoclines, oxygen minimums, and plankton densities mingles with the clatter of lunch preparation in the galley.

As this trip begins to wind down I find myself reflecting on the intensity of learning that happens in this environment. Through immersion and necessity the students have become conversant in the language and concepts of oceanography and nautical science. The presentations we will hear tomorrow will be sophisticated: well beyond what you might expect from the six days that these students have been working aboard. They have made a similar transition when it comes to ship operations, having gone from landlubbing novices to capable hands in the same short time span.

Only a few quick days remain in this trip, and much of that time will be devoted to reflection and celebration. In addition to reflecting with pride on what they have accomplished, I hope these students will see how much remains to be explored, for that is perhaps my favorite thing about the maritime world: that every question leads to more questions. For me, the looming vastness of the information I have yet to learn, rather than being intimidating or belittling, is an awesome reminder of the richness of the world and of the tremendous human capacity to enjoy that richness. I hope that when these students leave here they will continue to engage intellectually with the world’s oceans, but more importantly, that they will continue to find joy in asking questions.

Jane McCamant
1st Assistant Scientist



C235b Oceanography of the Gulf of Maine

July 16, 2011
GPS Position: 42º03.3´ N x 70º16.6´ W
Heading:  170
Speed: 5 knots
Weather: Beautiful Blue Skies

The past 24 hours have been very eventful! We sailed through Whale City yesterday evening.  Whales were breathing and breaching everywhere, including a few in front of the beautiful sunset, very picturesque.  Some whales breached extremely close and cameras were snapping away.  I think I took a pretty good tail fluke shot.  On midwatch (2300-0300), we had beautiful sailing with fair winds.  We tacked and jibed to our hearts’ content including a lot of sail handling.  In Lab, we made a Strawberry sorbet with Baby fish sprinkles from the phytoplankton.  During Dawn Watch (0300-0700), we did a lot of winkling in our awesome hats!!  We also used the fluorometer to measure the chlorophyll in the water.  This morning we were back in whale city and spread the word that the humpback whales were feeling social and breaching all around us.

Our final exam was released at 0800 and we have been working on it all day,using all the resources the ship has to offer.  Even though we had a test, we didn’t let that stop us from having a super awesome time! At around 1130, A-Watch was the first to go aloft.  It was amazing!! Some of us clambered up the rigging to the very top of the foremast, 105 feet from the water!  Others decided that being 35 feet above the deck was enough. The view from the top is pretty awesome, you can see forever, including our first distinct sight of land in what feels like weeks.  It was definitely a fantastic experience to be had and a great adrenaline rush and I would have liked to stay up there all day.  Unfortunately, we had to come down for lunch; our two stewards have been feeding us excellent food all week so it was good to come down for lunch if we had to come down.  After lunch, B-Watch took their turn climbing the rigging.  Some even touched the green starboard light on the top of the mast!!  “It was terrifying and thrilling all at the same time,” say two B-Watch members.

We all mustered on the quarter-deck for possibly our last lecture aboard the Cramer.  We were surprised to find our Captain leading us in Yoga to limber up for the Line-Race.  We split into Watches and had to individually findlines and speed walk back so the next person could go.  A-Watch pulled a tidy first place!!  Yay A-Watch!  With B-Watch and C-Watch coming in neck and neck for second place.  We all got the prize. A little while later, A-Watch (the Watch on deck) struck the 4 lowers; the jib, the mainsail, the forestaysail, and the mainstaysail, and furled the mall.  We are now motoring toward Province Town.

Bring it in for Climbing the Rigging.
Amanda Sajewski



C235b Oceanography of the Gulf of Maine

July 15, 2011
GPS Position: 42º23.2’N x 70º10.3’W
Heading: 220
Speed: 2 knots

These past 24 hours have been filled with much excitement seeing as though we have escaped the rough weather and are all in much better spirits.The day began on a great note as everyone had stomachs filled with sausage gravy, biscuits, and fruit.  Making it even more exciting was how we pulled into our third super station of Stellwagen bank right after 0700.

“A Watch” took on the morning hours with their six hour watch! The lookout was busy as there were sail boats, whale watching tours and other fishing vessels surrounding our area.  With everyone taking turns at the helm, we were able to successfully maneuver towards Province Town. This was a big feat for us seeing as just a few days ago we were not able to stay within 10 degrees of the desired course and today we all stayed right on course.

Around lunch time, there were barely any waves, so everyone was able to devour a lunch full of soup and bread without getting sick. It was a perfect meal to fill some of our stomachs which had become empty over the past few days. We all gathered around for a lecture on the formation of gyres, which we were able to finish unlike yesterday when we had to stop because of the rough seas. Afterwards, we went our separate ways, some of us to study for our checklists and others to catch up on some much needed

It is now 1600 and everyone is enjoying the beautiful weather. Afternoon snack was just served and everyone who can is sleeping. With checklists finally being completed, the rough weather behind us, and the delicious smell of coconut crusted Mahi Mahi wafting through the air, we are ready to take on our late night shifts. Although yesterday was one of the toughest days yet, the whole crew became much closer and more supportive which showed in our teamwork today.

Smooth Sailing,
Tess Bloomquist and Megan Murray



C235b Oceanography of the Gulf of Maine

July 14, 2011
42 23N x 69 34W
Winds NWxW Force 3
Clear Sky

The Corwith Cramer is sailing along under a full moon after a busy day of sailing and science. Earlier today, the passage of a low pressure system forced us to delay our scheduled morning science station today as we waited out a brief period of rough weather. The students and crew of OGM showed good sea legs and great energy in looking after the ship and each other until things calmed down enough to resume deployments. Our third and final station takes place tomorrow in the waters north of Cape Cod, after which is left the work of looking at samples, processing data, and presenting findings on three very different locales in the diverse Gulf of Maine ecosystem.

Capt. Elliot Rappaport



C235b Oceanography of the Gulf of Maine

SSV Corwith Cramer
Gulf of Maine, Near 43 07N x 69 20W
July 13, 2011

Hello from the Corwith Cramer! Today is our third day on the ship, and you will be happy to know that everything has been running smoothly thanks to the amazing crew. On Monday we boarded the ship, and began our crash course in sailing and oceanography. Within hours, all of us had already picked up some of the new language of sailing in order to set the main staysail, in my case. Day two brought new challenges in the form of watches-six hour periods in which students report to the deck, the science lab, or the galley for standing orders. My watch was on deck from 0300 to 0700, charting the ship’s route, how far we had gone, and taking turns steering the ship at the helm(cue Pirates of the Caribbean music). After some midday sleep, I was welcomed on deck to an incredibly beautiful blue cloudy sky with mirror-like waves. The weather thus far has been picturesque-a beautiful isolated world full of amazing experiences to be seen. The journey has just begun!

Over and out,
Christine Jay Norfolk, MA (B watch, #10)



C235b Oceanography of the Gulf of Maine

Greetings from the Corwith Cramer! The 23 students and 2 staff of the OGM program boarded the ship in Portsmouth harbor yesterday, and after a busy day of orientation and drills, the ship put to sea late this morning. It’s cool and hazy out on the Gulf of Maine, with a light wind from the southeast and the sort of calm seas that are perfect for whalewatching. Needless to say, everyone is watching carefully, though as yet there have been no sightings.

The next 72 hours hold a busy sailing and sampling schedule for us, as the ship makes here way towards the first of three “superstations”, where data will be collected for comparison from different Gulf environments. Along the way, the students are working at great speed to become sailors: Steering, setting sail, learning knots, and yes, even mastering the nuances of dishwashing in a sink that has waves of its own.

Capt. Elliot Rappaport
SSV Corwith Cramer
Off Portsmouth, NH
7/12/11 1415 EDT

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