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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
October 24, 2020
A “Swell” Weekend with Friends
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!
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.