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SSV Corwith Cramer Blog

The Corwith Cramer boarded students of class C-237 in Rockland, Maine on Wednesday October 12, 2011. They plan to sail south, with a potential port-stop at Bequia Island in the Grenadines, and will then head north west to St. Croix, USVI. Students will disembark on Saturday, November 19, 2011.

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C237 Ocean Exploration

Friday, 18 November 2011
18° 21.7’N 064° 44.9’W
Anchored in Francis Bay, St John, USVI
Wind East, Force 2, Temperature 30.0C, beautiful blue skies
“James and Franny battle it out in a bout of onion wrestling during schooner olympics”

Hello from Francis Bay, St John!

What a day!  On our final full day of C237, we turned to early in order to give back to Cramer some of the love she deserves.  Having carried us over 3000 nautical miles, Cramer had accumulated some funk, especially in the area of our bunks.  We started the day with super major field day, cleaning those bunks, then cleaning the rest of the ship below decks, then cleaning the deck, then topping it off with a wonderful warm water swim call in order to clean the funk off ourselves.  Feeling clean and refreshed, we lounged on deck for lunch then had a little down time while C watch kept the anchor watch.

Mid-afternoon, many students were surprised to hear an all hands muster call, but dutifully showed up on the quarterdeck, ready for anything.  What met them was the call for one final bout of competition-Schooner Olympics, Cramer style.  Split into two groups, all students battled it out in events demonstrating “Physical prowess,” “Brute strength,” “Balance,” “Seamanship,” and “Accuracy.”  Everyone got soaking wet one more time, and a good time was had by all.

As I write, several groups of students and crew prepare their performances for tonight’s “swizzle” - A celebration of C237 and all the miles we have sailed together.  Others are climbing aloft one last time and taking in the view of this beautiful island, and yet others are helping grill some delicious steak and hot dogs for our final night’s dinner.  All seem happy and content.  Tomorrow everything will change as our small world opens up again to everything else that’s out there.  We will all be happy to speak to loved ones and share stories, but right now we are still living in the moment here aboard Mother Cramer.

Thank you to all the students and crew of C237 for a wonderful cruise and a great time together.  To everyone else, we’ll see you soon.

Rachel Greenough, 2nd Mate



C237 Ocean Exploration

18° 24.3’N 063° 28.2’W
Heading:  306°T
Speed: 4 Knots
Weather: Winds E Force 3, Scattered Clouds, Temperature 28.5C
Photo: Students Kristin and Kelsey enjoy the view of the BVIs and St. John from the foremast.

Sailing west from St. Bart’s, Cramer rolled and lolled all night, pushed by the easterly trades.  The clanging and banging of shifting galley pans and the incessant side-to-side made sleep difficult.  The lurching recalled of our early days in the North Atlantic gales, although we are now able to dance and brace ourselves nimbly, all of us.  Last night we knew why sailors of old slept in hammocks, and we can marvel this morning at a 300-year European history of purely downwind sailing.  Sheesh, those lives must’ve been uncomfortable! 

With B watch on deck, the captain was roused at 5 am per his orders: we were 4 nautical miles from the entrance to Round Rock Passage.  The lights of Virgin Gorda had been visible for a few hours, and they now were destined to fade away as the eastern sky lightened.  The shapes of the islands slowly grayed, then browned and sharpened in front of the bow.  Steering a straight course, the roll nonetheless continued as we approached a small break in the rocky ring of islands: the British Virgins.  A trawler wrecked on the shoals served as a warning to mind our course.  Suddenly, a passing squall drenched us and completely obscured the islands with a dense grey curtain of sideways rain.  Memories of scuba-diving the Wreck of the Rhone came to me: a ship that sank not a hundred yards from one of these islands a century ago.  The mast above the water, all hands nonetheless perished for the inability to SEE the close-by island!  I hoped our squall would clear quickly.  I looked skyward, glad to see clear air behind us.  Yes, we would sight our passage in time. 

And then Capt. Terry announced, “Sunrise.”  Turning aft, we saw it: brilliant golden-fuschia rays broadcasting from the orange fire that glittered between the steely blue sea and the grey-white-pink cumulus.  The western sky on our port bow was turning an impenetrable lavender behind the receding dolphin-blue squall humps.  It was an impeccably timed entrance. First mate Sully called out, “Rainbow.” All eyes turned forward: just over Round Rock, a vertical band of color virtually pointed the way.  The low cliffs of the islands were glowing pink, as if made of rose granite.  Their green grass now began to shimmer, and the double-reflected sun painted the water in front of us with a buttercup trail on the deep royal blue. 

The whole boatload was awake now, and groggy students filled the quarterdeck, holding cameras up to the dawn scene, taking it in.  Slowly the morning chatter built as we shared the excitement of arrival.  Threading the needle between the rocks, the seas eased into a welcome calm under the hull. Cramer stopped her roll and pulled us gently into protected waters.  Ahhh. The calm wafted inwards on a deep sigh: we are nearing the end of our journey. 

Proudly sleep-deprived and muscle-sore, we are accomplished in so many new skills and ways of being.  Everyone is happy and fulfilled.  We will check into U.S. Immigration today after a stately sail down Sir Francis Drake Passage and through the Narrows to St. John.  The SSV Corwith Cramer, her adept Scientist-JWO-Steward students running the ship, her squares’ls billowing under a rising sun, has arrived.  After a 2800-mile voyage, from the rocky coast of Maine to the sailing capital of the Caribbean, this tall ship has made her entrance.

-Tami Kellogg, Deckhand



C237 Ocean Exploration

GPS: 17 55.6’ N x 62 56.1’ W
Heading: 274 True
Speed: 5.2 knots
Weather: Beautiful Sunny Day, Winds ENE Bf 2, Cloud cover 4/8 Cu, Temp 30C

As we meander along under the tops’l as our only set sail, we are leaving behind the beautiful cove where we were anchored overnight: Anse de Colombier, located on Saint Barthelemy.  We just finished the second round of project presentations during which Justin and I, Franny and Zach, Rachel and Kelsey and Paige all presented.  We have four presentations left this afternoon and our final papers are due tonight! With only a few days left along our journey I am finding it very difficult to keep our destination out of my thoughts, and many of us continue to strive to absorb the remaining days aboard our beloved ship, Cramer, and make sure to accomplish all of our initially set goals.  In order to deter my thoughts from the diminishing time we have left I would like to reflect about what it’s like to live aboard this gorgeous Brigantine.  Many of us have shared our different perspectives through this blog, reflecting on the many highs as well as relative lows that we may have fluctuated between.

Life aboard a tall ship is characteristic to living engulfed in a war zone.  Both living conditions implement the watch system for the sole purpose of keeping a group sage, and in our case protecting the Corwith Cramer.  This vessel has grown closer to our hearts as the cruise progressed with an affection comparable to that shared with a shipmate, if not more. We have also grown reliant on Shelley’s baking to survive, which has now engrained itself into our diets (I fear the separation anxiety to come). Our vessel carries us all and is our only protection from the sometimes violent and spontaneous elements of the ocean.  We have endured, but only with the protective shell our ship provides do we not sunder.  As many veterans have reflected on the helpless feeling of a battlefield, we, too, feel helpless at times at the mercy of our environment that causes elevated levels of stress.  At war, soldiers go sleepless for days on end being in unfamiliar environments and being pushed to the edge with acute awareness to protect from the enemy.  We too protect our ship from the enemies of traffic and unpredictable squalls.  Our environment is often our enemy and we can only dream of smooth sailing and empty oceans.  Many of us wake up, sweating profusely at all hours of the night, and unwillingly relinquish our sleep to the hells of being below deck.  Many of us take frequent naps on the benches in the main saloon to escape the unventilated, sordid caves where we make our homes (last night a group of us slept on the foredeck, a privilege of being at anchor).

We are foremost a family aboard our ship and watch each other’s backs, as do fellow soldiers.  Everyone is in the same boat (pun intended). We have come to trust every shipmate equally and sleep easy (sort of) knowing that there is always a group protecting us from the harms of our battlefield.  We have developed the same affinity to each other as we have to baby Cramer.  Following our port stop at Bequia, I began to realize the gravity I feel towards our vessel.  While on land I couldn’t help but seek her out in the harbor every time I snuck a glimpse of the bay, as if I was making sure she was still there waiting for me.  This gravity and feeling of family is mirrored in war among fellow soldiers of the same platoon. Platoon members know each other as thoroughly as we have come to know each other through uniform training and experiences.  Another thing I noticed during our port stop was how much I missed bow-watch.  A few of my shipmates have written about bow watch in their own blog entries I think because there is something about the bobbing of the bow that seems to foster thought. While standing bow-watch does have a certain degree of responsibility, there is simply nothing better than standing bow-watch on a beautiful starry night in the open ocean.  Comparably, war, has been told to have certain attractiveness.  Despite the dangers, stress and often overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, many soldiers have felt a desire to return to the battlefield because of the heightened feeling of awareness they feel in the environment.  Likewise, if any of us have any feelings of distaste regarding the living conditions and stress of our ship life I’m sure they will quickly dissolve in the absence of the ocean.  The open ocean seems to mock its observer, begging them to speculate about the secrets and wonders scattered beneath its surface.  Even the all-knowledgeable Terry gazes in to its vastness on a daily basis.  The ocean has an ineffable feel I never expected to experience with something so apparently plain. While there are few of us who long for the comforts of their homes, the wise and well-salted among us have already begun to miss the decks of Cramer.

To Dad, Mom, Sophie, Greg (my wittle brotha who I miss so badly), Quick, Bubbie and Grandpa, Grandma and Grandpa and all my friends, lnk, I will see you all very soon!

Ps. Rosie says happy birthday Sil!

Your thoroughly salted season war veteran (almost),
Jeremy Harlam



C237 Ocean Exploration

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Time: 1942
GPS: 17 55.4 N x 62 52.2 W
Heading: at anchor
Speed: at anchor
Weather: mostly clear night, winds E Bf 2, seas E 1ft.

We are currently anchored in Anse de Colombier, Saint Barthelemy.  St. Barts, as it is commonly known, is a small island belonging to France.  We have been here since class this afternoon, when we started the student oceanography presentations.  Myles and James reported on eddies, Lydia and Amber on phytoplankton distributions, Shelley and Christy on Sargassum, and Lucas and Colby on Foraminifera.  The rest of the class will present tomorrow during one of two class periods. 

After class, there was a swim call.  Terry opened up “the pool,” and we all got to jump into the turquoise waters.  The bay where we are anchored is about 30 feet deep and the water is very clear.  One could see fish swimming below and starfish resting on the bottom.  The part of the island where we are anchored is mostly palm trees and fairly empty beach, with only one or two houses.  Our neighbors include a few catamarans and most recently, a big yacht.  One can see Saint Martin in the distance. 

Kate Recinos



C237 Ocean Exploration

Monday, November 14, 2011
Time: 1637
GPS: 17° 10.7’ N × 62° 04.7’ W
Heading: 121 True
Speed: Hove to for science!
Weather: Winds from the East F3

Photo Caption: Corwith Cramer taken by me sailing off Antigua!

The Corwith Cramer viewed a lot of beautiful scenery this weekend. As JWO Friday afternoon, I navigated Cramer up the leeward side of St. Lucia with the sun setting to port.  We were all in amazement at the sight of the island covered in tiny lights as we passed several cargo ships, tankers and yachts. It was weird for us to look up into the sky and not see all the stars we have gotten to know in weeks past, but it was also amazing seeing land from the ship. Sunday we once again sailed by more islands: Dominica and Guadeloupe. After about four weeks of endless horizon on the open ocean, it didn’t seem real that civilization was so close.

Today was another beautiful day at sea. We sailed north past Montserrat, Redonda, and Antigua all day, deploying science gear. The topic of the day is the Kingdom of Redonda. No matter where you are, as long as you know where Redonda is, you are okay. Our watch officer, Rachel enlightened us during class on the history of Redonda and let me tell you, it’s quite a story, including a mélange of drunkenness, random kings and well, that’s mostly it. “Redonda don’t live here no mo” (shout out A-watch)

Even though the beauty of Redonda is so exciting, the highlight of today was our photo op of the Corwith Cramer. Captain Terry allowed Sully to take us out in the small boat to get incredible photos of the Cramer in the open ocean. Not only did everyone get unbelievable pictures, but we all got soaking wet once again. It was crazy seeing the boat we have called home for the past five weeks from the outside. Although we often look up at the towering masts in wonder, we are just a small spec in the giant ocean.

I am sure I speak for everyone when I say it is going to be extremely hard leaving this remarkable place in less than a week, but it is time to do everything imaginable while on the ship; climb to the top of the foremast, fall asleep in the main saloon on the settees, take one more deck shower under the fire hose, learn as many stars as possible, and no matter what, savor every last moment spent on the ship in the upcoming week.

As for everyone at home, Mom, Dad, Sam, Jordan, Linzy, SCSB, Connor and all my family and friends, love you and can’t wait to show off my tan on Turkey Day! Miss you all so much!

Love, Kelsey



C237 Ocean Exploration

Friday November 11, 2011
Time: 1630
GPS: 14 09.6’N x 060 59.2’W
Sailing on a starboard tack under 4 lowers
Wind speed: BF3
Cloud cover: Cu, 2/8

After falling asleep at 1900 Thursday night, I awoke to the sound of our windlass being started to heave back the starboard anchor at 0300. We were officially leaving Bequia. I must say I definitely got my fill of seafood while on land. Grilled King Fish, Spiny Lobster soup, and Conch fritters were all just mouthwatering.
My second day on land was definitely the most exciting, consisting of a 95 foot dive down a sloping hill of coral and fish I have only seen in textbooks.  No words can describe what it was like to swim through schools of fish or see a 4 foot long Spiny Lobster hidden in the crevice of a rock. (I wonder how many people it could feed!).  I also had been longing to do a wreck dive since I got certified and I finally got the chance.  Though only a 65 foot dive, everything was picture perfect.  The wreck was a tug boat that was auctioned for $1 but never bought, so it was sunk for tourists to dive around.  Afterward a group of us went to Lower Bay to snorkel.  We watched the sun set while eating local mango and a sorrel fruit drink.  The water is so warm and clear here that it’s going to be hard to come back to the cold New England waters.

After leaving Bequia we sailed north for St. Lucia, where we “hove to for science”  a science station consisting of a secchi disk and a hydrocast. Lots of pictures were taken while in the lee of the beautiful “Pitons” a very visible legacy of the islands volcanic past.  Right now we are on the leeward side of Saint Lucia and our plan, as directed by our JWO Kelsey, is to motor north out of the lee of Saint Lucia, then set sail bound for the windward side of Martinique. 

Now it’s 1644 and I have to run off to do a boat check. 

Hi Mom, Dad, Amy, family and friends on land, I miss you all so much. I can’t wait to come back with TONS of pictures and even more stories.  It will be nice to see my shadow on land again.  Miss you so much.




C237 Ocean Exploration

GPS: 13̊ 0.3’ N x 061̊ 14.7’
Wind speed: BF2
Cloud cover: Cu, 2/8
Temp: 29

Bequia definitely hasn’t lost its wonder!! After a long first day of giddy excitement to not only be back on land, but to also be in a beautiful island paradise, B Watch got to spend the day on watch on the Cramer in Admiralty Bay. Starting at 0700 this morning we took care of keeping the ship clean and functional as A and C watch ventured to shore for the day, taking along with them their watch officers, Pete, our engineer, Ashley, our steward, and the two top dogs themselves, Chuck and Terry. Ironically, after the previous blog post, a cruise ship pulled into the bay this morning just as the first SEA students were making their way to shore. I expect the experiences on the island today were much different than yesterday, but we’ll have to wait to hear about that from those who went ashore.

The past three days have been a blissful blur. The view I had of Bequia coming into port was really beyond words, but I’ll try to paint the picture. Eight or nine of us were aloft furling our squares’ls to look as beautiful as possible for our port stop, and we sailed (well… motored) right around the island and into the beautiful Admiralty bay as the sun was setting. It was magical and fantastic from however many feet above deck. Then I got to spend a day wandering around the island, talking with locals, learning about the islands culture and history. Though some of the students yesterday hiked Mt. Pleasant, many of us went to a turtle sanctuary. We spoke with the owner about his vision, which is essentially to raise baby sea turtles after they hatch on the beach beside the sanctuary until they’re old enough to survive in the ocean. Only about 1 in 3,000 baby sea turtles survive to maturity! But even today, a relaxing, laid back day on watch was needed. We were also rewarded with a swim call before dinner and we all bravely jumped off the bow sprit (with just a few fearful squeals).

I’m sure I speak for all the crew when I say that we’re loving Bequia and all it has to offer, but I’m already itching to sail again, and I’m constantly trying to ignore that the end of our trip is so near. I send my love to everyone and I miss you all so much! Love you Mama, Daddy and Alex. Don’t worry, you’re little fishie will swim home soon.




C237 Ocean Exploration

Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Time: 07:30
GPS: 13̊ 0.3’ N x 061̊ 14.7’
Wind speed: BF3
Cloud cover: Cu, 4/8
Temp: 29

Ah, Bequia. The steep little hills and swaying green jungle of this hunk of andesite are such a delightful contrast to the continuous blue of the past four weeks. Today was our first port stop in God knows how long and, after our beloved captain gave word to let loose the dogs, we swarmed into the small boats for a quick, wet ride into land. Walking along the narrow roads, bombarded with the mouthwatering smell of pizza and grilled wahoo, my overwhelmed senses were scrambling to commit everything to memory. We spent the first part of the morning wandering the streets, drinking from coconuts and buying gifts for the poor saps at home who are reading this.
Bequia isn’t quite like some of the other islands I’ve visited. It has a history of self-sufficiency which most islands of the Caribbean can’t claim and tourism has only recently sprung up with any real vigor. Previously Bequia was renowned for its whalers and the schooners which were built right upon the shore. Sadly the last of the old time harpooners died recently and with him the whaling craft has dwindled and Bequia faces the plight of turning into just another tourist spot for vacationers. But as of yet, it remains outside the usual cruise ship tracks.

For us, that meant the luxury of having an entire beach to ourselves. Six of us rented a taxi and scaled up Mt. Pleasant, one of the highest points on the island, until the road ended and hiked down the treacherous, rocky remains of a road until it ended in jungle through which we could just see the white sand and roaring breakers of Hope Beach. Once in sight, I made a mad dash for the water. Completely isolated by rocky points, the little cove was perfect with a breathtaking view of distant bits of land. We spent a long afternoon playing in the great body-surfing waves and eating fresh mango from the market and coconuts from the nearby palm trees. Justin even sighted the crumbling remnants of some castle (or outdoor patio depending on who you ask) hidden in the jungle. We headed out before dark to meet the rest of our group for dinner at a quaint little shore side restaurant and I wolfed down a marvelous Mahi Mahi steak. Sated and exhausted, we lumbered back to the dock for a run in the small boat back to our bunks safe and sound and a little sunburned. Beautiful day.




C237 Ocean Exploration

Monday, November 7, 2011
Time: 07:30
GPS: 13¬o 6’ N X 060o 54’ W
Heading: 210
Speed: 4 knots
Wind speed: BF3
Cloud cover: Cu, 5/8
Temp: 29

I feel naked without my watch. Weird I know, but before journeying out to the great blue yonder that is the Atlantic on the Corwith Cramer. I detested the things, they stuck to your wrist, caused all sorts of havoc with mobility and generally in my humble opinion were not a necessity for life. Who needs to know the exact time at school, the bells would ring and then one could move from class to class. Everything was a general approximation of when to be there. Plus or minus a few minutes was no big deal. Yet, as I sat down in the library to write, I noticed a white spot on my wrist. It’s a little larger than a dime around and about three quarters of an inch wide. Then it struck me, my watch was missing. Thoughts of sitting here and writing away peacefully, jotting those random wisps of thought are gone. My focus is my watch. Where did I put it? Must get the watch it is priority number one. Now I have it on again, back on the wrist, each second ticking away peacefully, counting down the minutes to class, to watch, till sleep and watch again. These are peaceful tics, not sonorous, heavy and leaden counting down to drudgery, but light and airy. Time quickly passing, moments here and then gone.  The watch marks our time on Cramer. Time that I will dearly miss when on land, there is something amazing about the lifestyle of this ship. Each day one wakes up to the same landscape: ocean. Yet every time, I shout (in muted tones of course) “James on deck” and look around the details have changed so much it’s as if I am visiting a whole new blue world.  The waters visage changing from stormy and windswept to a calm azure blue filled with wavelets. Squalls billowing upwards forming towering masses of ephemeral vapor, only to deconstruct back into the ocean. The sun casting rays of hued light from salmon to vivid yellows and darker purples, tingeing cloud formations (I saw the best charging elephant yesterday). A touch of civilization is brought to us by the errant cargo ships plying their trade.  As we get closer to land, closer to our port stop at Bequia (visible off the port bow). I wonder as I sit on the elephant table, will the watch stay on? We saw land for the first time a few days ago, Barbados. It was just a faint grey line of the horizon and a solid green mass on the radar. The closer the Corwith Cramer comes to land, the more I have thought about the watch. It’s such a small thing on my wrist, and everyone else on ship wears one to mark their time here. Its not only a way to keep track of our mounting tasks and budget our priority’s as JWOS(to deck wash or to not deck wash, that is the question!) but something to mark the moments whether it be as simple as calling a mark out on Vega to get your celestial fix, deciding when to do the next boat check or reminding one that our time on this ship is precious, and coming to a close and we need to make every moment count.


I’m already missing the starry black skies, crystalline clear.
And to those I hold dear,
Mommy, Daddy, Arden, Z and Nils I shall see y’all soon.



C237 Ocean Exploration

Friday, November 4, 2011
Time: 18:20
GPS: 13 04.27’ N X 057 58.11’ W
Heading: 293o
Speed: 4 knots
Wind speed: SxE BF4 (11-16 knots)
Cloud cover: 6/8 Cu
Temp: 28 degrees C

Picture: C-watch on the quarter deck with Terry today. 

Life on the Cramer is as interesting as ever. There is always something to see and do here on board. Everyone is busy with watch responsibilities and processing our newly acquired data as our research project due date draws near.  Although life and time at sea is a funny thing and so different from anything most of us have ever experienced, we are steadily becoming more and more adapted to life on board. There is still so much to learn and do, but seeing all the progress that my fellow peers and I have made thus far is very exciting.  We work very hard here, but we often take the time to stop and enjoy the view, and boy is it an amazing one. Never have I seen skies so big, so clear, or so full of stars. This view alone could turn anyone’s day around, never mind being surrounded by a fantastic crew that has fast become our friends.

Today marks the beginning of phase III here on the Cramer.  As of evening watch tonight (which starts at 1900) the students will be Junior Watch Officers (JWO).  We have been learning to take on more and more responsibilities, both on deck and in the lab, and will now be responsible for pretty much everything.  JWO will assume the responsibilities and duties on deck formerly held by the mates, and the JLO (Junior Lab Officer) will take on the responsibilities of being an assistant scientist.  C-watch has evening watch tonight, which means that Paige Carey will be C-237’s first JLO, and the first JWO position will be held by yours truly.  I think I speak for everyone when I say that while we may have a few lingering nerves here and there, we are anxious and excited to be responsible for everything that happens on deck and in the lab.  I’m sure it will be an intense learning experience for all of us.  It is fantastic to see and know that your fellow ship mates are there to help you with whatever they can, and it’s comforting to know that even as JWOs and JLOs we will have the help and support of our peers.  At first I thought that being at sea and out of sight of land may be a slightly frightening thing, but I quickly and happily learned that I can trust everyone else as well as myself with the responsibility of navigating by dead reckoning and maintaining the ship’s and crew’s safety.
The weather has been absolutely beautiful for the most part. For most of us it is hard to believe that it is November and getting cold back home.  Although today we experienced frequent squalls and have cloudy skies, the deck has been filled with shorts, tank tops, sunscreen, sunglasses and summer time songs.  Before today we had been experiencing the warm (and by warm I mean hot) weather that comes with being in the tropics and the beautiful trade winds that were rapidly bringing us south. However, it seems that now our southward progress has been momentarily interrupted by a change in wind direction and weather.  Not all is lost though, as we can now plan to visit a deep sea area where we will hopefully be able to do some remarkable sampling.  It is such a satisfying feeling to configure our position by the compass and our taffrail log, or from the sun and stars, to see the position that we plotted on the chart, to be able to monitor our progress, and to know that we as a team worked together to get us there. The further we travel, the more excited we get. 

Hi everyone at home.  Please know that I am thinking of you always and miss you dearly.  I’m working hard, but enjoying the endless beauty of the open ocean.  I am happy to be heading to Bequia and St. Croix and to be learning so much, and I’m so excited to share so many stories with you all when I get back.  Happy birthday to Alysha and my grandparents, to my family I love you very much, to Mike and all my friends I miss you so much, and to everyone I hope all is well and I can’t wait to see you.

Keeping you with me in my thoughts and in my heart,

-Amber Lisi.



C237 Ocean Exploration

Thursday, November 3, 2011
14̊ 38.4’N x 057̊ 31.0’W
Heading:  182 ̊ true
Speed: 7 Knots
Weather: Winds SE at force 3, clear skies
Photo by Kelsey Wilcox. Franny, Kristen, Zach, and Lauren enjoying a sunset.

Greetings from the Tropics!  So far the days have been sunny and clear and the nights have a pleasant warm breeze.  Squalls, common in the tropics, are frequently spotted on the radar and ventilation below deck is a necessity. We frequently “water the grass”, or spray down the deck with cool water in order to evaporate some of the heat. Hard to imagine the cold days and nights of Rockland, ME and New England were only a few short weeks ago!

Despite the rising temperatures, the students on Cramer are hard at work.. I spent this morning as the lab shadow, meaning that I facilitated the morning station which included deploying over the side a secchi disc to determine light levels in the water, the large carousel which houses the conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) device, deployment of the phytoplankton net, and deployment of the Neuston net. Not only do we have JWO/JLO phase in our very near future, but the students are starting to make headway on their research projects. This could include analyzing CTD data, identifying myctophids, doing 100 counts on phytoplankton samples, or swirling for pterapods.

Although we have a lot on our minds, we are also having the time of our lives. Cramer feels more like home every day. I find that I have gotten used to the constant motion on board, the strange sleeping schedules, and other ship routines. Setting and striking sails feels like a natural process and using a sextant for celestial navigation is not nearly as daunting of a task as it was three weeks ago. Even though I have gotten used to life at sea and not having seen land for over three weeks, there are some things that will always surprise me. I learn many new things every day, each sunset and sunrise is photo worthy, and coming up on deck in the early morning to be greeted with the sight of the open ocean 360 degrees around you is truly amazing.

Shoutout time! Mom – UW is under control! Dad – Happy birthday tomorrow! I wish I could celebrate with you. Love and miss you both, give Otis a kiss. Kaycee, Chelsea, and Lily and all my friends from Granby and Ithaca and everywhere else, I miss you all so much and can’t wait to see you.




C237 Ocean Exploration

Position: 16º 16.9’N x 57º 20.1’W
Course ordered: 178º True
Speed: 5 kts.
Wind: SExE at force 4
Temp: 29ºC
Photo taken by Justin Painter. A sunrise viewed through the porthole in the library.

Hello from the Tropics,

Pretty crazy that we are just over a week from Bequia, the first land we will have seen since we took that gybe 20 days ago out of the mouth of Cape Cod and watched the lights disappear astern. It has been very interesting to watch as our class has struggled and learned so much. It is amazing to watch everyone dealing with this environment that we all knew so little about. However, this Friday things are about to change big time. Phase three begins which is the JWO/JLO (Junior Watch and Junior Lab Officer). Yes, in these 20 days we have somehow all gained most of the knowledge to start to run this ship as watches without the direct guidance of our watch officers (they will be there for safety of course), whether we believe it or not. The coolest thing about this phase is the fact that if one of us in our watch doesn’t completely know what to do someone in our watch will. Between the 8 students in one watch, someone has done everything that is needed to know to run the ship and the science lab at some point.

This trip is a prime example of how people learn best when they are put in strenuous situations. Yesterday each watch was put into a friendly competition of maneuvering the boat from a port tack, doing a double gybe and becoming hove-to (how the boat needs to be set up sailing for science stations). It was a friendly competition, but you could see that everyone took it seriously. Each watch had a chance, but there were some small common mistakes among everyone. Even so, it is amazing at how fast we went from a bunch of college kids on land to being able to work this large sailing ship.

I find it hard to organize my all my thoughts into this one blog entry. The amount of material that we are presented every day is great and I only wish I had more time to soak it all in. I feel I will leave this adventure with a huge gain of knowledge, but at the same time, I feel I could have and hopefully will continue to learn more about life at sea.

Sending my love to everyone on land



C237 Ocean Exploration

GPS: 17 ̊46.98’N X 56 ̊ 59.62’W
Heading: 195
Speed 5kts
Wind ESE F4

Another glorious day at sea! Really it was pretty awesome. Life out here in the open ocean is always an adventure. Something is always going on, and there is never a dull moment. In the same minute you can have people buzzing around deck, others are balancing trays in the galley, Pete making sure the generator is doing its thing, science processing nets, and others rolling around in their bunk getting some shut eye.  I never knew you could cram so much fun and learning into the amount of time we have been on the boat.

Within these past few days I have shot evening stars with a sextant, helped revamp the freshwater plumbing (daddy I will definitely tell you more later, it was soo cool!) in the fore heads, and been steward for the day (today was Mexie day and Sil we had beans! lol). All these things have both taught me a lot about myself and made me really appreciate the people around me. For instance, I was really honored and thankful that Terry walked me through shooting the stars and allowed me to use his sextant. He was both a teacher and someone I could lean on, literally. I am pretty sure Terry caught me a few times while I attempted to time the roll of the ship and hold the sextant level with the horizon. He as well as everyone else on board have been truly amazing. I am really happy to be a part of this group which is one big happy family. 


Peace, Love, and chicken butt!



C237 Ocean Exploration

Monday, October 31, 2011
19º 15.6’ N x 056º 26.8’ W
Heading: 180 º true
Winds: ExS, BF 4.
Picture taken by Pete West: The crew in costume! Happy Halloween!

What a day. Being out in the open ocean isn’t as scary as it seemed it would be, and I would even describe the Cramer “sailing along in our own little bubble.” But just because we’re here in a snow globe of sea and sky doesn’t mean that we don’t know how to party. Yes, we remembered that today is Halloween and I’ll tell you this is probably the sunniest and warmest Halloween I will ever get. The crew spent a lot of time and energy making today an incredibly fun day, major props for that. My day started off with mid-watch out on deck, where we were incredibly busy striking, furling, and setting a plethora of sails in order to avoid some craziness through a few popcorn squalls. I think that the adventurer in me, who has been slowly creeping out little by little, finally took flight last night. I feel like a real sailor, especially now that we are well into Phase II and C-Watch is “crushin’ it” more than usual by taking the lead and gaining much more confidence and speed in our sail handling. On top of that, we’ve really become sailors because no part of anything I own is not covered in salt, my callouses are coming in very nicely, and gimbaled tables seem like a normal part of life.  After a short nap I found myself on the quarter deck to enjoy the nice breeze after trying to sleep down below in the blazing inferno that is now our bunks. The scene is always beautiful and while one would think that coming up on deck every day and looking out to see some ocean and sky would get repetitive, it’s different every time and always beautiful. I then got to enjoy some delicious French toast that Shelly and Ashley, our amazing steward and certified culinary genius, whipped up. I’m pretty sure that the majority of us are going to gain the “sea-men 15” on this trip, but one can only hope the sail handling will make up for all the goodies.

Speaking of goodies, the festivities began! We started off our Halloween celebration by snacking on delicious pumpkin cupcakes from the galley at 10:30 in the morning (never too early to get your sugar high on). Then thoughts turned to costumes as we all began to create some very inventive outfits. We had a smattering of ideas including the Halobates (the only open ocean insect), cowgirl, big ol’ baby, Christmas, a narwhal, and the very popular impersonation of the crew (my favorite). The crew came up with some even more intricate costumes such as the DC cleanup crew - the bucket, squeegee, and sponge we scrub the floor with after every dawn watch, the ghost of the lost 1m net, the Dude, and a big bag of jellybeans. They then scattered around the boat while we were instructed with the “safety rules” of Trick or Treating: “don’t eat the open candy” “ghosts aren’t the only things other vessels have a hard time seeing” and “always keep your buddy with you”. We all scampered in various directions around the ship like a herd of sugar-dependent 2nd graders to find the crew and retrieve our candy. After a sweaty yet colorful exchange, we all headed up to the quarterdeck again to vote on the best costumes. Awards included most inappropriate, most artistic, most confusing, spookiest, saltiest sailor, most scientific, and overall best.

Now we are all coming down from our sugar highs, lazily trying to scrape off the first few data analyses for our research projects that are due far too soon. Considering that we are in the trade winds and are officially in the tropics, this whole “work thing” is not looking so hot. We are just over a week from our first port stop, an event that seemed so far away just a few weeks ago, and the realization that we are creeping up on our last few weeks is becoming all too clear. Getting to know the crew has been such a joy, they are all truly amazing people and I am truly happy.

Shoutouts! Mom, Dad, G-ma, Meg, Ryan, Nia, LOLZ group, my sisters back in SD, my family and friends around the world right now, I miss you all tons and love you dearly! Sending hugs and kisses.

Hey Mom, Happy Birthday! I may be out in the middle of the ocean but I still remembered, thinking of you every day,


p.s. Carla gives a shoutout to all loved ones at home and in Maine!
Sully- hello to all back home and my prayers to “Doc” and the whole Fisher family



C237 Ocean Exploration

Friday, October 28, 2011
26° 55.9’ N x 55° 13.0’ W
Photo Credit Amber Lisi:  Getting Cramer into the spirit by making some Halloween decorations

Sailing on Lake Erie is not even comparable to sailing in the open Atlantic Ocean. I am no longer surrounded by the brownish mucky waters I call home, but rather the stunning deep blue ocean that has been my home for the past two weeks. Every time I go up on deck I am amazed by the beauty that surrounds me and thrilled that I have three and a half more weeks left! Not only is the scenery spectacular but the weather has been Miami hot! Wearing shorts and a tank top everyday never gets old, unless you haven’t showered. Don’t let me steer you wrong, I am not on a vacation cruise drinking margaritas every day, rather I am on one of the toughest learning experiences of my college career. You see I am the baby of the bunch, I will be entering my freshman year come this winter. Therefore, spending this semester at sea has become an enormous learning surge for me, not only academically but personally.

As part of the crew we are constantly presented with obstacles to overcome physically and mentally. Being perpetually on top of things is a necessity. For example, today was my day to be the shadow on deck. Being the shadow for the day is a step up from our previous deckhand position of just looking to the mates for our every move. One person is gleaned to be shadow every watch rotation, wither on deck or in the lab. The shadows job is to delegate what is to happen on deck throughout the watch: make sure boat and engine room checks are done regularly, celestial positions are taken at certain times, the proper sails are being set and struck, and open up communication between deck and lab. It is a lot to keep track of, therefore lists and time management are necessary.

The responsibility that is put on each of us is enormous. However, you can pick and choose how much you would like to partake in by your comfort level. Coming straight from high school without ever having partaken in a role and setting similar to this has been difficult. Not only are you swamped with research for your projects, but you also sleep strange hours, a long way from home, in the middle of the Atlantic and now your shipmates are looking to you for guidance. Thankfully we are like a family on the Cramer, we are all here to help each other out when we are feeling overwhelmed or just need to talk.

The inner works of sailing a ship like Cramer is essentially unity. Everyone has to work together in order to make a smooth and successful trip. You may not know the exact steps to computing celestial navigation but I guarantee one of your ship mates does and is willing to help you out. I have learned a tremendous amount, especially through my countless struggles since I boarded the Cramer. I am looking forward to the oncoming obstacles, knowing the immense amount of knowledge I will gain from them.

I miss you Mom, Dad, John, Ali, Brendan, Grandma, Grandpa, and Andy.
Love you guys so much xoxo.



C237 Ocean Exploration

Thursday, October 27, 2011
28° 47.6’ N x 054° 59.3’
Heading:  176 degrees true
Speed: 6 knots
Weather: 27° C, Force 2 wind from the northeast, barely a cloud in the sky
Looking at the course and tops’l at sunset from the bow of the ship.

Writing you from the library (which has a fan!) on a hot hot hot October day, this is Alexa Kretsch of A-watch. After sleeping in until 10 (watch until 0300; can you blame me?), I had some time to relax and read. There’s a library in the main saloon, which means that my fears of running out of reading material were pretty unfounded (Mom, it has one of the Temeraire books!). In a few minutes, I’ll be loading up on lunch, water, and sunscreen for my watch from 1300 to 1900. I’m on deck this watch and hopefully we’ll get some wind back so I can help set some sails. Yesterday we had five sails set, including two of our square sails, but we struck the last of them a few minutes ago as we started up the engines and began motoring across the water. Along with my usual tasks on deck (steering at the helm, checking the boat, recording weather), I hope to shoot some sun lines and stars with one of the sextants kept in the doghouse. These will go towards two of my nautical science assignments, but if I get a reliable fix from one or both sightings, I’ll be able to mark it down on our chart. As of right now, we aren’t plotting by GPS but are only computing our location based on how far we’ve sailed (as according to the taffrail log) and in what direction. In fact, we’ve just passed 1000 miles on the log. Surface currents and other factors can make our locations a little off, so calculating our position from the sun and the stars means we can correct our plots. We all look like old salts at dawn, noon, and dusk, lined up along the rail with our sextants in our hands and calling out numbers to our shipmates who scribble these times and angles down quickly.

For our afternoon watch today, Justin is shadowing our mate (Rocky) and Jeremy is shadowing our assistant scientist (Maia). “Shadowing” is part of Phase II of life on the ship, where we follow one of our officers around to see how exactly the run the ship or the science. We’re slowly preparing for our turn as Junior Watch Officers, or JWOs. In our two watches yesterday, I shadowed both on deck and in lab. On deck, I monitored the approach of some nearby vessels (two ships within sight at one time, in the middle of the Atlantic!) and in the lab, I oversaw the deployment of our neuston net over the side at midnight. Midnight net tows are the coolest, as you can see the little organisms lighting up with bioluminescence as the net moves through the water and then again as we rinse it down on deck. Anyway, shadowing is an awesome experience that teaches you so much and makes you feel like maybe being a Junior Watch Officer isn’t quite as daunting a task as it first appears.

The Corwith Cramer is such a large world contained in such a small space. With nothing but water on either side of us for miles, our whole community is never more than 134 feet away from each other. Our “home” is an 80x30x30 bunk. Yet there’s always something to do, something to eat, and good shipmates to talk to. It doesn’t seem all that small. That is, until you’re on one of the masts (like I first was a few days ago), looking down at the ship that is our whole world for the next three weeks. It then strikes you that your sphere is just one speck on a wide open ocean.

Love to Sal, to my family, to my friends. A much tanner, saltier version of me will see you all after Thanksgiving.



C237 Ocean Exploration

26 October 2011
30 21’N 054 54’W
Course 225 psc
Wind NW f4

In a particularly philosophical moment, Carla, one of the wonderful assistant scientists on board, remarked that the day at sea differs most strongly from the land day by the sheer number of times you must wake up. Indeed, I could start this daily blog in any one of three places: 2300, when I woke up for mid-watch last night, 0600, when I woke up for breakfast this morning, or 0900, when I left my bed for the final time. They all feel like quasi beginnings. I took out a new pair of socks at 2300, brushed my teeth at 0600, and stumbled on deck to brush my hair at 0900. The sun rose between sleep session two and breakfast, and dawn receded to day between sleep session three and hair-brushing time. Thank God this isn’t space semester, or all semblance of the normal passage of time would be lost.  Not that the apparent abnormality of the passage of time at sea is a bad thing, though. For one, waking so many times in one set of 24 hours makes time elongate itself. I could hardly believe it when Paige told me today that we’ve been at sea for less than 2 weeks. It feels like it’s been at least two months. Judging from all the journaling that goes on, my classmates feel the same. Myles climbs up onto the dog house, usually in the late afternoon, and writes in a leather-covered, gilt-edged notebook with a SEA sticker on the inside cover. Colby has a blue composition book, which she writes in on the quarter deck while Paige plays the ukulele nearby. Shelley records “pure thoughts” in her bunk. Zach writes in a small notepad in equally small handwriting at the saloon table, and I try not to look. I get the sense that I stand in the midst of (and perhaps take part in too) an accelerated swirl of young adult personal change. The longtime classic SEA captain and chief scientist pair, Terry and Chuck, warned us that they’ve heard more tales of unrequited love from the aft cabin (whose hatch stands almost directly underneath the helm) at two in the morning than they would care to. Pretty soon, Terry explained, they all sound the same - “And then he said . . .” “And then I said . . .” It must that the lonely hours on bow watch spent staring out into the seemingly infinite black horizon or truly infinite black sky lead to profound reflection. Either that or the captive audience of the helmsperson is too much to resist.

Franny Goffinet

Photo: Cramer sailing under 4 lowers, credit Maia Theophanis



C237 Ocean Exploration

October 25, 2011
Position: 32° 10’ N x 52° W

Hey y’all,

Today began as another beautiful day aboard the Cramer, as B watch was met by clear skies and calm seas just after sunrise at 0700 (7 am) this morning. The weather remained quite friendly for the first half of the day, but throughout the day the wind increased and we were hove to for the lab practical right on cue. As class is held outside on the quarterdeck (the back of the ship, where the steering wheel is) everyday, so too was the lab practical administered in the glory of the open skies and seas; or perhaps it would be more accurate to say at their mercy. Answering the exam questions correctly became only one of many concerns as students struggled to keep their papers from flying away, and there was at least one report of a test being completely soaked by a particularly wrathful wave.

Of course, the crew of the SSV Corwith Cramer was utterly un-phased by what those of lesser heart might call “foul weather” indeed, the strong and ever-growing leadership of our peers guided us through wind and Winkling and stood testament to the spirit with which we embrace Phase II. As Shelley has described above, the voyage is divided into three phases, and Phase I - the phase in which we develop our sea legs, adjust to life on the boat, and absorb and process tons of new information has drawn to a close. With the first official day of Phase II behind us, we are expected to begin to take charge ourselves to engender the skill, confidence and leadership necessary to (almost) take control of the vessel in Phase III. As the “shadow” for the watch officer in lab today, I can personally tell you that this is a daunting yet rewarding experience as I began to take the first steps towards true responsibility on my own. Though we still have a lot to learn, it is exciting to stand back in the role of a leader and watch the transformation of your peers into the strong and efficient team of sailors we are becoming.

As far as our tangible progress goes, we’re making decent headway along our track south. As of right now, we’re heading roughly SSE at a speed of about 5 knots that’s roughly 6 mph for those of you following along at home. This doesn’t seem like much, but when you take a look at one the charts floating around the boat, you realize that we’re sailing at a brisk pace and quickly leaving the continental U.S. behind. Mom, Dad, we’re well south of Tennessee right now.

Life aboard the ship has been intense and exhilarating. Adjusting to life at sea was rough at first; I had an intense (but short) bout of sea sickness, but it was short lived. Sometimes I just wish I could let everyone at home see what I was seeing, because there’s no way of describing it. Your world is constantly moving and gravity is unpredictable as the ship or rather, the ocean tosses you one way and the other, but I can literally tell my grandkids that when I was in school, we had to walk to class uphill both ways, in the rain. The beauty outside is unmatched, whether you’re standing on the bow as a lookout at night, viewing the stars, or on deck or aloft during the day, watching the endless expanse of ocean around you. Dolphin and whale sightings have become commonplace now, and I’m finally familiarizing myself with the stars and constellations of the night sky. This is only the tip of the iceberg. For those of you reading this, you will have to ask someone who has been there, because there is no way to describe it in a blog. I’ll leave you with that.

Take care now.



C237 Ocean Exploration

October 24, 2011
Position: 32 46.8’ N x 55 45.1’ W

Today started out lazily for A-watch. We woke up and had breakfast with B-watch, who had had a much rougher morning. Cramer had encountered a squall that soaked everyone on dawn watch, but with a couple of the breakfast sandwiches Ashley and Lucas made, the watch was refreshed in no time.

In the afternoon, students went aloft, meaning they climbed up the rigging to reach the “tops” or the “trees”, the first and second platforms on the foremast. A-watch went yesterday and let me tell you, it is terrifying. You’re high up, clinging to the shrouds as the ship sways with the waves. For many of us, making it up to survey the gorgeous view of expansive blue water and see our shipmates waving at us from below was quite the accomplishment.

Tonight marks the end of Phase I and we are switching watch officers to learn new ways to approach sail handling and science by working with different crew members. Phase I consisted of learning our places during emergency drills, certain celestial navigation assignments, boxing the compass, setting and striking sails and several other skills considered basic necessities for deck hands. During Phase II we will be “shadows” and one student will shadow the watch officer for a watch, learning the responsibilities and decision making inherent in assuming that position, which we will do in Phase III. We will miss Sully and Emily, but are looking forward to getting to know Rocky and Maia!

Being on Cramer has been incredible before and as our captain, Terry, asked as he joined several of us watching the brilliant pink and gold of sunrise one morning, “Where would you rather be?”
I can’t think of an answer.

So much love to everyone at home; I wish you all could be here to experience this too!




C237 Ocean Exploration

Position: 37̊ 19.5’ N x 56̊ 39.7’ W
Heading: 155̊ True
Speed: 6 Knots
Weather: Clear skies

Dear C-237 followers,

I will begin by telling you right off that Lucas is eating his words regarding the line chase, and oh, do they taste sour. Indeed, today was the much-anticipated “line chase” aboard the Corwith Cramer where watches A, B, and C stood off in a head-to-head combat of who knows their lines the best. For all of you land-lubbers out there, lines are the things that are used to pull the sails up and down. Therefore, not only was the line chase a friendly (err…) competition, it was an exam of sorts as we are all expected to know the sails and how to set and strike them by now. 

At precisely 1500, all of the watches lined up across the quarterdeck and the race began upon Captain Terry’s command. From the blocks, it was obvious that the only true competitors were A-watch and C-watch (unfortunately for B-watch, taking too long in the beginning searching for the JT Jigger). A and C remained neck and neck until a devastating upset as C-watch failed to locate the Fisherman Sheet in ample time.  In the end, victory went to A-watch followed by a respectable second place for C-watch, and B-watch in third. All bad feelings were quickly set aside afterwards in order to celebrate Chief Scientist Chuck’s birthday with squid cupcakes (happy birthday, Chuck!).

The excitement of line chase aside, it has been another typical day on the Cramer, which is really not typical at all. Allow me to explain! In order to enlighten you to the wonders of life on the ocean, I must begin where every wake-up begins, which is with Franny peeking her lovely head into my bunk and telling me about the weather outside. This is considered a proper wake up (no poking allowed) though Franny is notoriously wrong about her weather forecasts and sometimes considers it ok to poke…

I begin picking out clothes- a selective process that involves a lot of touching and smelling to determine what shorts and shirts are less salty than others (yes, we are already in shorts and tank top weather!). Then, I climb down from my top bunk to brush my teeth- an event that takes place approximately four times a day! I expect to have teeth 4 shades whiter by the time I reach land. No matter what time of day it is, there is always food (don’t worry Mom- plenty of gluten free!). Besides breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we also have a morning, afternoon, and midnight snack- and everything is delicious. The only trick to eating is getting used to the gimbaled tables (I suggest that you youtube it). These are tables that move with the motion of the boat in order to keep all of the food from falling off, however, they do not respond well to elbows. Therefore, we have all begun to respect the “no elbows on the table” rule, for real, or else we might end up with a big pitcher of “purple drank” in our laps.

After eating a meal or snack, watch begins, which means that you are either on deck, in lab, helping in the galley (kitchen), or in the engine room. Being on deck is always a treat as the scenery is constantly changing, which may sound funny seeing as we are in the middle of a giant ocean, but it is quite true! We have seen everything from fog-filled nights that look like a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean to lightning storms, clear sunny days, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, and nights that seemingly reveal every star in the universe. So far I have seen whales breeching, dolphins swimming under the bow of the boat, jellyfish floating by, and one particular sea turtle who hung out on the starboard side for a good bit. Also, plenty of shooting stars for good wishes!

In our free time apart from watch we spend time working on homework (mostly shooting the sun and stars), writing, reading (there’s a full library onboard!), playing various instruments, and hanging out in the sun. On clear nights, it is common to gather on quarter deck to learn the stars and constellations with our C-watch deckhand Kevin, or Captain Terry.. Today I even learned how to play “Piano Man” on the harmonica! As we are becoming more comfortable with life on the boat, we are starting to embrace the advantages such as sitting atop the “elephant table” or out on the bowsprit net, both excellent places to relax and watch the waves go by until it is time to catch some more zzz’s. For me, that time has come, so I must bid you well dear readers. As always, thanks for following. Hugs and kisses to our friends and families!

Hi Mom and Dad! Miss you, love you, and hope all is well with CBerry! Happy 40th to my big bro Andy tomorrow, and to the rest of the family, hello as well! To all of my beautiful friends in KC, Colorado, and scattered across the globe, I think of you often and am sending my love your way.



C237 Ocean Exploration

Position: 37°56’W x 058°24’N
Photo taken by Christy Varga: action shot of various members of C-237 setting the topsail

Have you stood bow at 3:00 AM while the waves pummel and smash into your beautiful ship? Have you watched the Sunrise in the east, cresting over the water, while you haul away on the jib halyard? Have you stood stalk still on the quarter deck, attempting to remain steady as to get a healthy sextant reading? Have you screamed to Poseidon, God of the Ocean, as you ride atop his glorious kingdom?  Well, C-237 has!

Yesterday we had a practical sailing learning experience, doing massive 720 spins throughout the Northern Sargasso Sea. After about two hours of gybing and tacking no one was dizzy, and everyone understood the sail handling that needed to take place for a successful turn through the wind. Today, just like any other day at sea, has been lengthy, hard, and full of adventure.

I began the day of October 20th by going to bed at 3:00, having just been relieved from mid-watch. I then slept till approximately 7:00 when I was woken up by the sounds of breakfast (my bunk is right in the main saloon where all the eating happens, and thus even if I want to sleep through meals, the sound of the hungry crew gets me out of bed). After a quick breakfast I lumbered back to bed to finish catching up on sleep. Then came lunch and subsequently watch (from 13:00-19:00).

Interesting things learned today during watch were: the proper way to fold (furl) a sail, the organism that inspired the Alien featured in the famous Alien movies (the Phronimid Amphipod), and last but not least, I learned that the little zooplankton caught in the Neuston Net can in fact be eaten, after being investigated, examined, counted and whatnot. They taste a bit salty, a bit crunchy, but overall quite good. Tomorrow is the much looked forward to “line-chase.” Every watch (my watch is B watch, and I am sure that tomorrow’s blogger will announce a B-watch victory) will race around the deck, naming the different lines. By race I mean walk, because no one wants a man over board because of the line chase. The first watch to get all the lines correct wins.

The sun is setting and people are on deck shooting the stars. This is my personal favorite aspect of life at sea, determining your position by the celestial bodies above you. It is incredible. 

As I write this blog I can’t help but think of the outside world that seems so distant right now. My time on the Cramer has been unbelievable thus far, but I still miss my friends and family back home. Un beso enorme para toda mi familia lellendo esto, y para Marina, Ariel, Mami y Papi, los extrano mucho. 
A big hug from everyone aboard the Cramer.  Smooth sailing



C237 Ocean Exploration

19 October 2011
Position: 38° 12.4’N x 060° 51.4’W

Photo taken by Emily Carruthers: Christy Varga looking through a microscope at a slide of phydoplankton caught from our flow-through system.

This morning started off with a beautiful sunrise over the North Sargasso Sea, captured in part through the port hole in the photo. Dawn Watch was graced with beautiful weather, though we spent much of our lab watch looking through microscopes to do a zooplankton 100-count (identifying the first 100 critters we see under the ‘scope as a representative of the entire net tow) and to look at some phytoplankton obtained from our sea water flow through system. Our counts were made easier by the microscope objectives provided for the Cramer by the generosity of the Mabee Foundation; thank you!

Those not on Morning Watch were woken up by the sound of the ship’s general alarm sounding a man over board (MOB) alarm. Our MOB was a lifejacket that Terry had thrown over the side for this week’s safety drill. All Hands quickly went to their assigned stations. The ship was promptly hove-too by the excellent sail handling of B-Watch, our MOB was kept in sight and spotted by C-Watch, and A-Watch launched the rescue boat that Sully and I used to recover the MOB as well as other life-rings thrown to help mark its position. Cramer feels very small when you look around the ship and see nothing but blue water stretching out to the horizon, but being in the rescue boat put our size in a different perspective. The seas were about 6 feet, so as soon as we were away from the Cramer we were unable to see any of the floats marking the MOB. Instead we had to rely on those on deck to spot for us. Luckily, our C-Watch spotters did a great job and we were able to recover out MOB successfully!

During class we worked on tacking and gybing. Each watch was responsible for a section of the ship and each watch tacked once and gybed twice with two students from each getting to “call” the tack or gybe. “Calling” a sail handling maneuver involves being the person in charge of the entire ship and telling everyone else what to do and when to do it (including when to turn the ship, pass sails, haul sheets, etc). The students all did a great job, though I think some were surprised that the thing they found the hardest was speaking loud enough to be heard the entire length of the ship!

Love to friends, family, and a certain orange feline!




C237 Ocean Exploration

Position: 38° 33.4’N x 062° 51.4’W
Photo taken by Lauren Krug. From right: Kevin, Amber, Jeremy. Kate and
Rachel look on as Sully reels in our second mahi-mahi of the day (too small :().

It’s a beautiful Tuesday out here on the Northern edge of the Sargasso Sea. Data from the science lab tells is that we have just crossed in to the Gulf Stream and the weather seems to agree. We can see that the surface temperature of the water and the speed of the current in the area have both been increasing (both characteristic of the Gulf Stream). The air is currently a summery 26°C. The winds are blowing at a light Beaufort force 3 from SSE. The three foot seas that we are seeing from SW are hopefully a comfort to the handful of us still struggling to find our sea legs (and stomachs). As I write this, the sunset reflects off the light cloud cover on the horizon.

Maybe you can’t tell but we’re all thrilled to see this fantastic weather. As Justin mentioned, a squall passed over us yesterday, giving us a quick burst of rain. As we followed the path of that weather system last night and into this morning, those on watch enjoyed magnificent lightning shows off the bow. At dawn, we had STAR FRENZY! which is almost as exciting as it sounds: three people on the quarterdeck, sextants in hand, attempting to get the locations of the few stars available using the just-visible horizon. On a cloudy morning like the one today, only Capt. Terry shot stars with apparent ease.

In science, we accomplished much today. The midnight neuston tow yielded a squid (among many other planktonic goodies) for our chief scientist Chuck. At dawn, Winkling hats were donned to appease the Winkling gods as some students attempted to master the art of Winkler titration (finding the amount of dissolved oxygen in a sample of water). Later on in the day we deployed a phytoplankton net, a neuston net, a Secchi disk and a CTD. The prevalence of Sargassum in our neuston is further evidence of our entering the Sargasso Sea.

In class today, we learned about some fantastic jelly creatures and talked hydrocarbons and politics with Chuck. As it happens, dinosaur poop and phytoplankton drive our cars today. We’re cruising along at 155° true at 5 knots sending our love home to family and friends.
Margery Doodle out.



C237 Ocean Exploration

17-Oct-11 Position: 37.9’ N, 56.3’ W
Photo taken by Christy Varga. Students (Myles and Lucas) practicing Sun lines with sextants.

After 6 days aboard the Cramer all of the students are adapting well to the ship’s non-stop routine where each of our 3 watch groups rotate standing watch, at which time they are responsible for sailing the boat, collecting or analyzing scientific data, working with Pete, the ship’s engineer, or making meals for the crew with Ashley, the ship’s steward. A, B, and C watches rotate shifts from 0300 to 0700 (dawn watch) 0700 to 1300 (morning watch) 1300 to 1900 (afternoon watch) 1900 to 2300 (evening watch) and 2300 to 0300 (mid-watch). From today’s dawn watch all the way through evening watch there have been frequent sightings of dolphins swimming along our ship!

Cramer is moving at about 5 knots with a heading of 166 True. The wind is currently out of the west with a beaufort force of about 4 and the seas are currently around 7 feet. A brief squall just passed soaking us for about 5 minutes, but the sun is back out and the skies are clearing up again. We’ve had spectacular weather for sailing, but not ideal for science. This morning the boat was hove-to on station, while recovering our meter net set to collect plankton below the surface, the stainless steel swivel attaching the net to our wire broke, lucky for us, the ship has a spare. Besides that, today’s data collection was a great success and included the first deployment of the carousel with water sample collections at different depths up to 950 meters below sea level. Terry, our captain, covered up Cramer’s GPS yesterday, making us dependent from now on our celestial navigation skills in order to figure our position. On the cover of the GPS is written in sharpie “find your way by the stars, not satellites”
Justin (A watch)



C237 Ocean Exploration

14 October 2011
Position: 42° 13.2’N x 070° 24.5’W, approximately 11 nautical miles NW of
Provincetown, MA

Photo taken by Maia Theophanis. Students (Lauren, Myles and Lucas) watching the neuston net tow through the water, and enjoying a break from the rain..  Greetings from the Corwith Cramer! Today is the first full day underway and our newest crew members are all busy learning the ins and outs of life at sea. Yesterday we asked the students of C237 to try and absorb as much information as they could as we went through a series of orientation stations. These stations are to inform the students about what it means to stand a watch, how to react in the case of an emergency and how to operate safely in the lab and on deck. After all that orientation, we left the dock and set sails to head south! Crew members quickly started to feel the effects of the motion of the ocean as it took a toll on their bellies and inner ears. Today we are continuing to sail south. The entire crew is looking much less green as they continue to learn the finer points of standing watch. The wind is from the SE around a beaufort force 4 and the seas are 4 ft coming from the SSE. We have been experiencing intermittent rain for the past 24 hours. Today we did our first oceanographic station. The morning watch, this morning it was A watch, deployed a CTD to measure salinity and temperature with depth, a phyto net to collect phytoplankton (microscopic plants that make up the base of the food chain in the ocean), and a neuston net to collect zooplankton (microscopic animals the live at the air/sea interface). Our first 48 hours with the entire crew of C237 have been a pleasure! That’s all for now from the Cramer. Hellos and hugs to all of our family and friends back on shore!



C237 Ocean Exploration

The Corwith Cramer departed Rockland, Maine on Wednesday, October 12 with the students of C-237, and all is well. We are currently awaiting their first blog entry and will post it as soon as it’s received!