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SSV Corwith Cramer Blog

The Corwith Cramer departed from Woods Hole on Saturday, August 13th with students participating in the Science at SEA program. They will spend time sailing and collecting data, and will disembark in Woods Hole Sunday, August 21st.

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C235e - Science at SEA III

Friday, 19 August 2011
GPS:  41º 21.0’ N x 070º 57.6’ W
Heading: 095º
Speed: 5.2 Knots
Weather: Beaufort Force 4, 6/8 Sunny-Cumulus + Stratus, Temperature is 24.90º C

Today marks the last day underway for the students of SAS III aboard the Cramer. As things began to wind down in the lab, we worked in small groups to analyze the data we gathered over the last week.  This data varied from the phyto-plankton net samples, to ADCP current readings, to salinity and temperature, and phosphate and dissolved oxygen content.  Compared to our normal science classes, this data was not “canned science,” neither the students nor the teachers had any pre-conceived notions as to what the data would mean.  Each group then presented their respective conclusions to the entire crew on the quarter deck.

To the student’s dismay, land is finally in sight.  We are on course to anchor in Menemsha Bight off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard in preparation for our field day and bunk love (cleaning) tomorrow.  However, this does not mean the fun is over. Not only do we get to sleep for more than four hours, but the Captain and mates seem to have even more surprises in store for us (swimming?). Although everyone wants to remain at sea, our craving for the luxuries of ice cream, full showers, and a real bed is ever increasing.

This past week was truly an experience of a life time, and an adventure that would not have been possible without our parents. Despite the fact that many of us might never have this opportunity again, the bonds formed between students and faculty alike can never be forgotten. We did not form just a community, we formed a family.  Parting ways on Dyer’s Dock will be extremely difficult, maybe even heartbreaking for some, but we all hope cross paths with each other again during the SEA Semester.

- Chris, Alex, and Cara



C235e - Science at SEA III

Thursday, 18 August 2011
GPS: 40° 44.62’ N x 071º 02.98’ W
Heading: 300°
Speed: 6.5 Knots
Weather: Beaufort Force 4, 4/8 Cloudy-Altocumulus, Temperature is 23.50º C

Greetings, blog readers:

Despite lack of sleep, today has been jam-packed and quite successful. Most notably, we finally got the much-awaited chance to go aloft. You may be thinking, but Jamie, what does aloft mean? Well, dear reader, it’s when we climb the ratlines (which is like a ladder) up the foremast. We can go as high as about 100 feet. Too high for me (and Sarah), but many students chose to climb as high as possible. We are proud to say that every single student managed to clamber up to the course yard (at least 50 feet). Parents: try not to worry too much- the deckhands were there to assist every step of the way, and our harnesses were put to good use on the yards. From the safety of the yard, most members of B-Watch sighted dolphins, and later (much to Will’s excitement), A-Watch spotted a shark! (After hours of toiling with fishing line, Will also managed to catch a fish. It was a good day for him.) While waiting their turn to ascend, each watch waited sprawled out on the headrig (the net at the front of the ship), from which there was a great angle for taking pictures of the others. I’ve heard there will be more opportunities to venture amongst the sails, but unlike the majority of my shipmates, I think I’ll pass.

Much earlier today, during the peaceful but rather tiring mid-watch, the labbies of B-Watch deployed a meter net, with the wire operated by yours truly. The results of this excited even our chief scientist, Audrey, who’s seen it all. Among the catches were shrimp, tons of jellies (again, parents, not to fear: this kind doesn’t sting), a miniature crab (pinched Rachel), and a spiny lobster larvae (which scared Rachel, but did not bite her). The lobster kind of blows my mind. It’s transparent and paper thin, and like nothing you’d ever imagine viewing on land. Many of the organisms we captured bioluminesced, and thus, the net twinkled as we rinsed it.

B-Watch’s “sleep of kings” was interrupted by an early class. After Ben (aka Bengineer) gave us a rundown of the inner workings of our beloved Cramer, Audrey briefed us on our final project. Each watch has a different topic, divided into sub-topics. Working in groups of twos and threes, we researched and discussed the trends that we’ve discovered from the scientific deployments. This task was made all the more difficult due to lack of internet, something most of us aren’t at all used to. The presentations will be given sometime tomorrow morning, so wish us luck!

Though I’ve been seasick and had sunscreen in my eye and haven’t slept more than 5 hours in a row in days, it’s all been totally worth it. Today, described as “awesome”, “magnificent”, and “best day ever” by my shipmates, was evidence of that. We’ve only got a couple days left until we return to shore, but I can assure you, this crew of the Corwith Cramer will go out with style.

-Jamie Maher (B-Watch)



C235e - Science at SEA III

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
GPS: 39° 49.1’ N x 70° 38.9’ W
Heading: 031°
Speed: 3.6 knots
Weather: Clear, beautiful sunset, 26.1° C, Beaufort Force 3 winds out of NWxW, 2 ft seas
Caption: Students celebrating after learning all the lines aboard Cramer.

Ahoy, you land lubbers!

We have just gotten off our long and beautiful afternoon watch. Our stomachs are full with some of the most delicious cooking in the world, courtesy of Jen, our amazing steward. Contrary to popular belief, food on a ship is way better than anyone could imagine. So on full stomachs, here’s a recap of the day so far….

At the beginning of C-watch’s afternoon watch, we finished our third super station, at approximately 2000m below the surface of the sea. With that super station, we were able to deploy the Styrocast; after spending the last few days decorating 8 oz. Styrofoam cups we sent them down to the dark depths of the ocean and they returned to us about a quarter of the size. The C-watch labbies spent their afternoon processing the catches from the Neuston tow, and processing data gathered from all the super stations we have done so far, so they had a lot of work. The labbies got to spend time with some crazy little critters that we have picked up in our tows so far, like 8 juvenile and larvae crabs (Hubert, Rutherford, Emily, Jean-Claude, Shirley and Steve, and One-Armed-Willy), and a young puffer fish named “Parsley-Puff.”

Our class time, at approximately 1430, we heard weather reports telling us we will hopefully have beautiful weather for sailing and sending us back up north towards home.  We spent some time learning about the attenuation of different light wavelengths. We deployed attenuation spheroids (aka M&Ms) and timed how long they remained in sight. Our official findings are that blue and green wavelengths will attenuate through sea water at the slowest rate, meaning that we could see the blue and green M&Ms for the longest amount of time. Our “Nautical Studies” portion of class, lead by Captain Virginia, included a test of our Cramer-line knowledge. This test was, thankfully, not multiple choice and involved no writing of any kind, however we each were given a card with a line to find, by walking not running, and then to return to our assistant scientist.  In the best relay-race fashion, we celebrated the completion of our test with a Conga-Line, per instructions on the last card of the deck. C-watch came in last, but we were by far the steadiest, calmest, relay-racers, and we still got to lead the Conga around the ship.

Tonight, (as Jamie and Mackenzie were writing this very blog) students laid out on the bowsprit to watch the sunset, and listen to 3rd Mate Kathryn play her harp. Today was a beautiful day, and some incredible sailing, we ended the night with all of the fore-to-aft sails set and full.

Good Night for now, C-watch will be up again at 0300 so we are hoping to catch some shut-eye!
-Jamie Kishimoto & Mackenzie Trumbull (C (chill)-watch!)



C235e - Science at SEA III


Tuesday, 16 August 2011
GPS: 39° 49.7’ N x 071º 24.7’ W
Heading: Hove To (to deploy CTD off port)
Speed: 9.2 Knots
Weather: Beaufort Force 3, 7/8 Cloudy- Stratocumulus, Temperature is 24.04º C
Caption: The B watch (bro watch) girls take control out on the bowsprit to furl the jib!

Hey to all you blog readers out there!

Ahhhh finally a day of peace!  It has been a long couple of days, however we have all finally triumphed our battle against seasickness! With everyone feeling well, life aboard the Cramer has become more lively and successful. Mealtime now feels like home with our healthy family eating together in the salon. Plus all the delicious food the stewards make for us will stay in our bellies keeping us full and happy.

Today was the day that many of us have been waiting for… our 3 minutes in heaven!  Every 3 days we get the pleasure of taking a quick, fresh water shower.  Everyone comes out smelling and feeling a whole lot better.  What a great way to end the battle of seasickness.

For the C 0700-1300 watch the science lab started our 2nd superstation! Everything went smoothly until we brought the CTD (a carousel-like piece of gear which takes water samples from the sea at different depths) up from deep below and nothing had happened, the 12 bottles failed to close. There were a few technical glitches that turned out to be as simple as needing a few new D-cell batteries.  On its third trip to the deep, the carousel finally rewarded A watch with 12 perfect samples from the water column, completing superstation number two.

At 1430, all three watches mustered on the quarter deck for our first class onboard. B watch presented on the current weather, location, weather to come, bioluminescence, and they even showed us a little dance! Following their presentation Audrey, our chief scientist, explained to us how Cape Cod was created due to glacier moraines about 21,000 years ago. Compared to the 4.6 billion year old earth, Cape Cod is just a baby! We then broke into our watches and practiced tying knots (square knot, bowline knot, and stopper knot) and setting and striking the main stays’l and jib. We’re getting pretty good! 

Signing off to catch a quick nap before our watches later on tonight!

-Sarah Lerner (C watch) and Cara James (B watch)



C235e - Science at SEA III

Monday, 15 August 2011
GPS: 40° 19.5’ N x 071º 33.5’ W
Heading: 175º 30’T
Speed: 4.8 Knots
Weather: Beaufort Force 3, Completely Cloudy- Cumulus, Temperature is 22º C
Caption: Our shipmates toughing out sea sickness on the leeward side of the boat.

Hello there!

After a long night of watches, many of us woke up to the smell of amazing berry pancakes and the sight of tipping tables. Wait, what? Tipping tables? In order for us to keep the food on the table when the boat rocks, the tables are gimbaled. This means that the tables are allowed to swing freely from the sole (floor) of the boat and therefore always stay parallel to the surface of the ocean no matter how the boat rocks. This gives us the feeling of being in a scene from Alice in Wonderland as the whole world seems backwards and tipsy. After filling our bellies, “A” watch went up on deck while everyone else took a much needed nap. As we reached the top of the ladder, we saw something that put a damper (no pun intended) on our day- rain! By the last hour of our watch it had turned from a drizzle into a torrent. Big swells rocked the boat, which didn’t help those of us battling sea sickness. Though sick, wet and cold our group kept on going with high spirits.

Today started off with a superstation; a deployment of all the science gear we have on board! We first launched the shipek grab- a bear trap like device, which scoops up sediment from the sea floor! Next came the secchi disk- a round, white platter which is used to measure how deep light penetrates the water. As the disk lowered we all stood at the rail pointing and yelling “Sight, sight! I can still see it!”, until we could see it no more. The carousel, a massive cylinder with tubes all around which take water samples at specified depths, took one half hour to actually deploy seeing as we forgot to turn it on the first time! The phytoplankton and neuston nets dragged behind the ship, skipping the surface like dolphins as they gathered microscopic organisms.

Speaking of dolphins…Guess what we saw today! You guessed it! At 1845 (6:45 PM), Will, our spectacular second mate, spotted a pod of 10-12 common dolphins on the starboard bow. This caused such a stir that almost half of us ran on deck and crammed ourselves along the rails of the bow waving cameras and yelling to each other. They stayed with us for about 10 minutes and we all got lots of great pictures!

Signing off and going to take a snooze before our 2300-0300 watch!
-Julia Cydzik and Tamar Gasko (A Watch)



C235e - Science at SEA III

Sunday, 14 August 2011

GPS: 41º 21.8’N x 70º 54.7’W
Off of Gays Head , Martha’s Vineyard
Heading: 200 degrees
Speed: 2.3 knots
Weather: beaufort force 3, mostly cloudy, temperature 21.5 degrees C

After a hectic but exciting orientation anchored about ½ mile offshore of Martha’s Vineyard, the Corwith Cramer truly began to sail. At around 1400 we raised the anchor and set the forstays’l aback. Once we had preformed a sort of sailing “u-turn” we raised the mainstays’l, tops’l and mainsail. Currently we are moving under sail power alone, having not used the ship’s diesel engine since yesterday.

This morning before we raised anchor we completed three emergency drills, all of which are vitally important to our position as “crew,” not “passengers” aboard the Cramer. The first was “man overboard” with a large white buoy replacing our lost ship-mate. Each watch was given a specific task, such as getting the rescue boat in the water, tending the sails, or keeping lookout for our bobbing friend. The second drill, a below-deck fire, was similar in the sense of divided duties. One watch systematically closed the ventilation systems, another tended the sails (noticing a pattern for that watch?), and yet another was in charge of manning our on-deck fire hoses. The final drill, representing our last resort, was the abandon ship drill. We did not, however, actually get to abandon the ship. Instead, we each gathered our assigned supplies, met at our watch’s designated life raft, and attempted to get into our Telly-Tubby like immersion suits, which would prevent hypothermia in case of an actual abandon ship. These suits, as it turns out, turned into a huge source of comic relief. If you don’t believe us, look at the picture of our watch all suited up. Can you recognize any of us?

Once we started actually sailing, our twenty-four hour shifts began. This will continue for the remainder of our trip. This schedule has one watch awake at any given hour of the day, or night. An example of this is the watch we will be standing in just a few hours, which spans from 2300 (11:00 p.m.) tonight to 0300 (3:00 a.m.) tomorrow morning. It appears that last night is the last real night of sleep any of us will get. As grueling as this might sound, most of us are excited to see all parts of the ship running at all hours of the day and night. Seeing unabated stars is also a big plus of the midnight and dawn watches.

Signing off the first student blog of this voyage of the Corwith Cramer,
Dan Hughes and Coral Mullen (B-Watch)



C235e - Science at SEA III

Saturday, 13 August 2011

GPS: 41º 21.3’N x 70º 46.9’W
Menemsha Bight
Heading: Anchored
Speed: 0 knots
Weather: beaufort force 3, partly cloudy, temperature 22 degrees C

After a whirlwind of activities completed during the shore component, the SAS III students boarded the Cramer this afternoon, waved good-bye to family and friends on the dock, threw off the dock lines, and headed away from Woods Hole. A lovely afternoon sail down Vineyard Sound brought us to Menemsha Bight, where we are now anchored for the night.

The ships’ company was treated to a delicious first dinner of bow tie pasta, green salad (with organic fresh tomatoes and bean from my garden back home!), and bread with garlic butter. Dishes were cleared and washed in short order, and the students are now cycling through a series of orientation stations in preparation for heading offshore tomorrow afternoon. Tonight’s orientation introduces the students to the engine room, lab protocols, navigation, and how to do a proper boat check. Inquisitive groups of students have poked their noses into the shipboard library as I write this, looking over my shoulder and expressing their delight at being aboard.

Following another round of orientation tomorrow morning, we will weigh anchor and head towards our first scientific superstation. We’ve got an ambitious scientific plan in mind, and have high hopes for what we will be able to accomplish.  The rest of the crew and I are all looking forward to working with the students during our time together at sea. They are a wonderful group!

It’s a fine evening here on the Corwith Cramer, with a warm pleasant breeze at this peaceful anchorage. What a great place to be! -Audrey Meyer, Chief Scientist