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Current position of the SSV Corwith Cramer. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the layer tools, top right, to change the map style or to view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer

October 24, 2020

A “Swell” Weekend with Friends

Sara Tennant, B Watch, Northeastern University


Above: Furling the jib is a many-hands job on the headrig; Below: Sweating lines? No sweat!

Ship's Log

Present Location
38° 56.2’ N x 068° 38.6’ W

Ship’s Heading, Speed and sail plan
190o; 6.7 knots; stays’ls, reefed mains’l, topsail, raffee (first time!)

Moderate N wind with large swells from the east; cloudy, but pretty warm!

Souls on board

As fun as life on the Corwith Cramer is, it’s definitely an adjustment compared to life on shore.  Of course, in the distant time of about three weeks ago, we were given plenty of advice for living at sea: Bring warm, waterproof clothes.  You can and will be woken up in the middle of the night for dawn watch.  No one completely evades the symptoms of seasickness (except Craig, our medical officer).  All in all, your standard semester guidelines.  However, there was one warning that stuck out to me: “It’s normal to feel lost and even helpless in the first few weeks.”  While I understood that there would be changes once we stepped aboard the Cramer, I definitely underestimated the whirlwind of confusion that would be my introduction to life at sea.  With no prior sailing knowledge, I had a long ways to go to learn about setting and striking sails and adjusting sheets and switching tacks.  I’m still using the reference sheets in the lab for sample processing.  The start of the shadow program (Phase 2 in our “training,” where one person per watch follows and studies their mate or scientist and starts making the calls) only highlights how much I still have to learn.

In spite of all that, I’ve yet to lose hope.  I know far more than I did on Day 1, and I owe it all to the rest of the crew of the Corwith Cramer.  In and out of class, on and off watch, everyone is willing to help at the drop of a hat.  Our 2nd Mate Carolyn has been incredibly patient as I’ve learned the ropes and built up my physical strength (gotta make Buff Watch proud!). “Science Lady” Campbell walked me through a Neuston Tow at four in the morning.  Megan, Elijah, and I worked together to box the compass, and Catherine, Lucia, and Olivia always know how to make me smile when the day is done.

Now, as we head south (for real this time) and feel the massive swells greeting us for our second Field Day, I see that I’m not the only one who’s had challenges to overcome.  Some people have spent the morning (and other days) on deck to calm their nausea; some get overwhelmed by the amount of cleaning we have to do in the main salon; others are still working on mastering a bowline knot.  And again, what makes the difference is that no one is struggling alone.  There is always a person willing to help you learn lines.  There are people who will go into the galley and help wash dishes, even when they’re not on watch.  Our mates and scientists are always able to give a lesson or a laugh to help us get stronger and move forward.  Seasick or sad or just sleeping, we all look after and support each other.  Our crew really has become a family of its own, through every little action we take to help our shipmates.

Sappiness aside, with the exciting day of dawn watch, Field Day, and an upcoming evening watch, I’m looking forward to a truly swell (in every sense of the word) weekend with the Cramer crew!

- Sara Tennant, Northeastern University

PS:  Hi to Mom, Dad, Clara, Woody, the rest of the fam, Elizabeth, Clare (and Pepper), the UC Crew, and the DnD Squad—I love and miss you guys, and hope you’re all safe and well!  Also, happy belated birthdays to Aunt Mar
and Nick (who may be 17 but will always be, like, 10 in my head)!!

Editor's Note: In response to the coronavirus pandemic, all SEA Semester students, faculty, and crew aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer boarded the ship after strictly isolating on our Woods Hole campus for a minimum of two weeks, and after repeated negative tests for COVID-19. To ensure the health and safety of those onboard, the ship will not conduct any port stops and will remain in coastal waters so that any unlikely medical situations may be resolved quickly.

Previous entry: Grateful to be Sailing    Next entry: The Gulf Stream and Mini-boats


Leave a public comment for students and crew to read when they reach their next port and have access to the internet!

#1. Posted by Valerie Tennant on October 25, 2020

Beyond thrilled to hear from my Sara!!! So proud and in awe of you and each and every one of the C-294 crew! Love and miss you, Sara Bean! xo

#2. Posted by Lori Novick-Carson on October 25, 2020

Sara, thank you for the snapshot of life aboard the ship and the shout out to Olivia! We love knowing that you are all pulling together—- the Corwith Cramer family!

#3. Posted by Renee on October 25, 2020

Thank you Sara. You all have such a great way of writing. It makes us feel like we are there with all of you. Hope you all continue to have a swell time (and the sickness part goes away or becomes less frequent). Enjoy!!! It looks beautiful.

Renee (Aileen’s mom)

#4. Posted by Zia Anna on October 26, 2020

Thank you, Sara.  What a Swell blog post!!  Continue to have many Swell days, and thank you for the great picture of my Lucia!  Keep curious and happy!  Zia Anna

#5. Posted by Alan Tennant on October 26, 2020

Sara, I believe this will provide you with so much direction on where you want your career to go.  You have always wanted to be in the field doing research, what better opportunity!  I hope you learning a lot but hope you are taking time to enjoy the experience.  Love you bunches.

#6. Posted by Miki Fato on October 26, 2020

Wonderful blog! thank you…and thank you for the Lucia post.
good sailing to all of you..hang in there, I can tell you are all being challenged!

Lucia’s mom

#7. Posted by Martha Livingston on October 26, 2020

Great to hear you are all supporting one another (and feeling supported) as you encounter the challenges of this amazing experience!!! Thanks for your wonderful post!  Keep having a swell time!

#8. Posted by Doug & Sherry on October 26, 2020

We are enjoying reading the blogs! We hope you have a great experience and can’t wait to hear all about it! Love you!

#9. Posted by Maya Manger on October 27, 2020

“ 20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do then buy the ones you did too. So throw off the bowl lines, sell away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.“  - Mark Twain - Although Twain is credited for the quote it’s true author is unknown.  But it doesn’t matter. It says what it needs to say.  Follow your dreams, chase the wind and challenge your fears.  When Josh goes out to sea I always wish him “Sunny days and calm seas.” So I say to you Sarah, Sunny days and calm seas. This is your experience of a lifetime. Cherish every moment and keep a journal!



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