SEA Currents: Ocean Exploration
Let’s count off. Who’s here? One-two-three-four.seventeen-eighteen! Alright, we have everyone. Every shipboard muster begins with a count off, a count up or count down to ensure that all the students and staff are present. One through eighteen for the students and interns and then by department for the crew. Here are some more important and interesting numbers from the trip.
Today we ventured ashore for a tour of Grenada with our outstanding guide, Mandu. Our journey began travelling north along the west coast of the island with picturesque views of tiny bays and harbors and a narrative of the island’s complex history. The bus chugged up the steep volcanic hillside and brought us to our first swim call (aka Sierra Charlie) at a waterfall! The already high spirits of the group lifted even further as we played in the cool, rejuvenating mountain waters.
Here we are at anchor in St. Georges, Grenada, our final destination. It’s quite amazing how far we’ve come in the 29 days since leaving the dock in Woods Hole. There is excitement in the air as the students are getting ready to go ashore and maybe a little unwilling recognition that the trip is almost over. The final port call is a bittersweet moment as one has spent the whole trip heading to this point (storms and dolphins, rain and rainbows, crepuscular rays and beautiful sunsets) and yet this community and home we have built is almost over.
What a different way to wake up for the crew of the Corwith Cramer this morning. Drawn from its slumber by Rachel’s singing voice, the entire ship’s company got a wake up at once - something unheard of underway when an entire watch is awake and working at any given time. New sights and sounds greeted the early risers as they stepped onto deck: a risen sun behind a verdant hill dotted with houses, high frigates already soaring in the air, a barking dog, stately pelicans grazing the flat water surface with their wingtips.
In the words of Anna yesterday, “Here we are.” This evening, however, that phrase has a whole new meaning, and we aboard have the firmest sense of where we are yet. Land! Sighted early this morning as distant flickering lights 38 nm away, then rising out of the gloaming as the sun comes up and gives us colors to behold; then we are between two islands and in the lee and the smell of the land is overwhelming. Wet dirt, fresh wood smoke and an entirely new array of ocean smells not encountered in the open ocean.
“SO, here we are, running before the wind under the topsail and course…” Jesse, sailing intern and current C watch J-WO says to A watch clustered around him on the quarterdeck. His voice comes from a silhouette plastered against a backdrop of stars. “The wind is from the East, force 4. Course ordered is 300 degrees….” he continues. And so began last night’s evening watch.
“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon for each day to have a new and different sun.” –Jon Krakauer
Where do I even begin? It’s crazy to think that this is our last week aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer. It is truly bittersweet.
To set the scene of a dawn watch not long ago: Still foggy from my 00:30 wakeup, I rolled out of my bunk, made a mug of tea, and ascended the ladder through the dog house to read night orders, familiarize myself with the deck, and receive turnover information from the off-going watch. Directed to take the lookout position, I walked forward to the bow to relieve Mercer, who was looking out and singing “Lean on Me.” I joined him for a chorus, then as he left I situated myself between the rail and the forestay, and I began to watch.
Out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Domino’s pizza delivery does not exist. Thinking of civilization back on land is weird. The concept of green pine trees lurk into my mind and then the reminder that I very well may be greeted with snow when I return stuns me, forgetting that was still a thing. As I stand bow-watch and gaze into the dark twilight of the night, I try to recall my life before this. No routine, no set schedule, no meal times, no daily clean/field days and no wake ups.
I could tell you your life is fine the way it is. I could tell you the niche you’ve found for yourself within society is all you need. The sounds of the city, suburbia, and the chatter you hear at work every day is enough. I could tell you these things but then I would be a liar. It is a fool’s errand to attempt a description worthy of life at sea.