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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
October 17, 2019
A gale during dawn watch: A harrowing adventure
41o29.9’N 071o14.1’W Sekonnet River
Ships Heading and speed
Cold, sunny with cumulus clouds and very, very windy
I heard the tell-tale rustling outside of my curtain and the faint whisper signifying the start of my watch. I could already feel the cold permeating below decks as I quickly dressed in my many layers and foulies before heading upstairs to the dog house to read the night orders. The sight that welcomed me upon reaching the dog house was a cheery one. C watch was all huddled inside the tiny space escaping from the driving wind and rain brought on by a fierce North-Easterly gale. The picturesque sight of friends huddled together for warmth was not to be the fate of A watch. We headed out into the gale. For the next three hours I stood at the helm as driving rain stung my face and the sound of the wind in the rigging made it impossible to hear anything more subdued than a shout. The ship was rolling so heavily that the dishes, plates, pots and pans were clanking uproariously in the galley. A number of drawers flew open and anything not tightly secured was rolling about the floor, creating an acrimonious symphony. Above decks, with my arms facing upward on the helm, the rain was starting to drip down my sleeve, making an already cold night, colder. Maintaining balance was difficult. You had to time your movements carefully or else be flung across the deck.
It is easy to imagine that all of us awake in the cold, wet dawn were miserable, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Each large wave and each subsequent role brought on choruses of laughter and the cold, driving rain did nothing to dampen our spirits. There is something exhilarating and awe-inspiring about seeing the unbridled power of nature and knowing that you are also, innately related to and a part of that raw, intemperate force. It simultaneously reminds you of your insignificance while re-enforcing the knowledge that human tenacity and determination is almost as powerful as nature itself.
While I savored the experience of ridding out my first gale at sea, it was with some relief when the subsequent A watchers were awoken to relieve us and I crawled back into my warm bed.
Riley Palmer, A-Watch
P.S. Lots of love to my family, Dylan and friends! I'm having a great time and I can't wait to see you at Thanksgiving.