Ready for an adventure with a purpose? Request info »
  • Search SEA Semester, Summer and High School Programs

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

April 27, 2018

A week at sea & the Great Pin Rail Chase!

Nate Lammers, C Watch, 3rd Mate


All crew mustered and ready for the great pin rail chase!

Ship's Log

Current Position
Southern Sargasso Sea, Latitude 25°53.8’ N, Longitude 071° 13.5’ W

Course & Speed
095° T, 5.5 kts.

Sail Plan
Reefed Mains’l, Mainstays’l, Forestays’l, and the Jib

Partly cloudy, light winds out of the SSE, sea swell: 2-3’

Large mats of Sargassum and lots of plastic debris

Souls on board

A week ago, at 12:13 EDT, we cast off our last line in Nassau, Bahamas and motored out to sea. It's hard to believe we have officially been underway for a week! The days are flying by and just seem to blend together. With the revolving 6 on, 12 off watch schedule we are constantly changing our work and sleep schedule which really makes it hard to keep track of the time. We have been really busy with morning deployments including the CTD carousel, the McLane pump, followed by a neuston net tow. Late in the evening we also deploy the neuston net and occasionally the one-meter net. It has been an eye-opening experience to see the research being done by the students aboard, and the amount of biodiversity in the Sargasso Sea. I have also had the chance to see all the plastic debris that accumulates in this unique marine environment and hopefully we as a society can make changes to protect these places and leave a cleaner place for future generations.

C watch had the morning watch today. After coming on watch at 06:50 we took care of the daily cleaning of the main below deck spaces as we motor sailed east. We set the jib and attempted to sail, only to find the wind a little too light to make the speed we would like. After firing the motor back-up, we continued east. With not much cloud cover this morning it was a great time for working with students on the basics of celestial navigation. We had a chance to practice using the sextant to "grab" the sun and bring it down to the horizon and then read the altitude off the sextant. Several students also got the chance to work through some of the calculations and plot their line of position (LOP). It's always heartwarming to see when a student finishes plotting an LOP and finally starts to grasp what all of the numbers and calculations really mean. The amount of information the students have been given in the past week is more than I received in half a semester of Celestial Navigation at Great Lakes Maritime Academy. It is exciting to teach and tutor the students as they begin to grasp the basics of celestial navigation and prepare for their first assignment, due next Wednesday. The rest of our morning watch involved scientific deployments.

As we get further out into the Sargasso Sea we have been seeing larger clumps of Sargassum that are forming large mats. Today we got into position next to one in order to take some dip net samples. It was very cool to see such a thick "blanket" of Sargassum. After finishing our neuston tow at 12:4, we gybe'd around to continue heading east, eased the main engine up to 1,250 RPMs, turned over the watch to A watch and headed to lunch.

This afternoon instead of our typical afternoon class we had the great pin rail chase! All of the students have been busy learning all of the lines aboard for the last week with many last minute studying sessions going on right up until all hands Muster. For those who do not know, aboard the Cramer there are pin rails around the vessel; the lines are made fast around a pin. The students had to learn the location and purpose of 77 different lines aboard the Cramer. From those a random selection was chosen and put on index cards. A, B, and C watch competed against each other in a relay-style race. A student from each watch would be given an index card and then proceed to go to the pin rail associated with that line and point out the correct one to the Mate or Scientist standing by. Once confirmed, the student would return to the quarter deck and tag the next person on the watch who would receive the next index card and start the process all over. To help out a little, one watch member per each watch was allowed to give a warmer or colder hint to direct their team member that might be struggling with one. Also, to keep people walking (and not running) during this relay race, anyone caught jumping or running would have to walk like a "crab" with hands and feet on the deck, stomach facing the sky to the pin rail and back to their team.

As the Captain prepared to sound the ship's whistle, lots of chanting and fist bumping, and extreme enthusiasm erupted from the teams on the quarter deck. With a blast on the whistle, the teams were off and the great pin rail chase had begun. All 3 teams were neck and neck and it could have been anyone's chance to hold the title of "pin rail champs". Teams would jump into the lead only to have someone jump causing a "crab walk" penalty. Other teams would struggle with directing a team member to a line they were having trouble remembering. The lead bounced back and forth between the watch teams. As the last of the index cards were handed out C watch jumped into the lead and identified the last line, becoming the C-279 pin rail chase champions! After a week of everyone cramming to learn the lines it was a fun way to get everyone to work together and cheer on their teammates in a great little competition.

Another fine day on the high seas,

- Nate Lammers, 3rd Mate

P.S. Happy Birthday to my sister Natalie! Talk to you when we arrive in Bermuda.

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Marine Biodiversity & Conservation, • Topics: c279  study abroad  research  sargassum • (1) Comments


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 Liz Gill on May 07, 2018

Congratulations, C Watch!!! Woot Woot Woot! Say hi to Geoffrey.



Add a comment:

Notify me of follow-­up comments?

I would like SEA to keep me informed about news and opportunities.