Current position of the SSV Corwith Cramer. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).
SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
June 22, 2015
Another Day on the Pond
48° 44.7’ N x 021° 13.0’ W
Description of location
East of the Mid Atlantic Ridge
C/O and C/S 075°PSC (64°True)
Between 5 and 7.5 knots
Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Overcast and Foggy, Winds Upwards of 20 Knots from SSW BF 5, Seas between 8’ and 10’, Sailing under the Jib, Mainstays’l and Forestays’l
Marine Mammals Observed last 24hrs
None, which may be a first on this trip.
Sargassum Observed last 24hrs
As I sit in the computer lab of the ship, on the port side just below the waterline, I watch the porthole in the room dip in and out of the water as I think of what to write in this blog. The problem is I am not sure where to start. No matter what I talk about, I still feel like I am going to miss something. We could start with all of the whales, dolphins, sea turtles, tuna (which came out delicious, by the way), and even a couple dozen liters of jellyfish; or perhaps the sunrise, sunset, moon, stars and planets that we have been using to find our location in the world. We could also talk about the two separate Canadian Coast Guard flyby’s or the occasional conversation with Russian cargo ship officers. To be completely honest, I did not expect to see or learn even a fraction of the things that I have already on this trip, and there is still another ten days to go. I signed up for this trip with the sole intention of getting the experience of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, which I have always wanted to do. So I suppose that learning about coastal, offshore and celestial navigation, sail handling, knots, coils, lines, meteorology, wave and cloud formation, radar, offshore maritime safety procedures, gybing, tacking, sail setting and striking, watch management, laboratory procedures, scientific equipment deployments, processing of pH, PO4, NO3, SiO2, chlorophyll-a using a spectrophotometer and other equipment, zooplankton identification, diesel engines, generators, ocean water desalination, refrigeration, sail rigging, ship maneuvering, watch management, laboratory operations, wind and ocean currents, and how to eat on a gimbaled table is all just a bonus. But let’s slow it down and talk about today.
Today started with the typical wakeup from Aidan, who instead of trying to wake me up from my coma-like sleep state by saying my name a few times, immediately skipped to splashing water on my face. It still took me a couple minutes to get up. I got dressed eventually and got breakfast in the saloon, which were sausage, egg and cheese sandwiches on English muffins and bagels. After a couple cups of coffee I reported to the watch turnover and was assigned to the duty of dish/engineer (disheneer, not eish as Sarah thinks it’s called). It is a good thing that Jen Webber is our steward on this trip, because I can think of few people that can make scraping dried up egg and pork grease off pans enjoyable. She has managed, much to my amazement, to provide this ship with three meals and three snacks a day. One would think that the food on board the ship might lack in quality and quantity, but that is just simply not the case. Anyway, we managed to survive a couple gybes while Shlee, Jen and Sean prepared Po’ boys for lunch and shrimp fried rice for dinner. In between dishes, I would have the treat of being able to run up to the doghouse and plot a couple of dead reckoning plots on the chart and maybe even take down weather observations. With conditions less than perfect, we also were able to heave to and deploy the hydrocast and neuston net. By lunchtime we were able to get right back on course and cruise at a steady seven and a half knots on just two of our lowest sails – the stays’ls. Our record on this trip so far has been 9.8 knots under our main and two stays’s during one of the storms early in the trip. On that day, even after striking the main and forestays’l, we were able to keep a speed of 8.2 knots under just the mainstays’l – a sail about the size of one you would find on a 30 foot sailboat. I still to this day cannot believe it, even though I had seen it happen.
Today was a day to celebrate in the lab, as we have finally finished running the phosphate, nitrate and silicate samples which has been an ordeal. The nitrate processing alone has taken us fourteen straight hours and left some of my shipmates involved in desperate need of sleep. To quote Joseph Sitzmann “I am relieved to say the least.” “In a tremendous display of determination and willpower, Maria and Sean spent six uninterrupted hours watching nitrate-enriched seawater drip through a cadmium-filled tube, in the name of science.” This is how Sean described his experience in the third person. Our Chief Scientist Audrey was able to lighten the mood by pranking our first assistant scientist Matt by adding green dye to a sample that they had already processed. See picture. After several minutes of Matt running through the options of how to handle this scientific anomaly (the presence of nitrate in the samples makes them turn pink, not green), the crew in lab finally could not contain their laughter as they explained to him that it was a prank. But Matt retaliated in short order; he was able to get them back by convincing them that they had been running the samples at the wrong wavelength the entire time, which would have rendered all of their data useless. Audrey and Brittany turned positively white when they heard this information.
Thankfully, Matt was joking and all of the samples are fine and all the data are ready to record. With the bulk of our data already collected, it is safe to say that we are on our last leg of the trip, with Ireland a short 450 nautical miles away. Hopefully, we can keep up our cruising speed above seven knots and make it to Ireland early so we can cruise about the beautiful coast. I know many of us are ready to see land after a long, but unbelievable month at sea. I know I have enjoyed every minute of it despite all the sun and rope burns, sea and regular sickness, cold rain and some humid summer days. The fact that I have had the opportunity to work in both a maritime environment as well as a working laboratory is outstanding and I do not take a bit of it for granted. The amount of oceanographic research I have been able to be a part of is quite a pleasant surprise, especially because I do not come from a science background. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean is the experience of a lifetime and I recommend to anyone willing to step out of his or her comfort zone.
As amazing as this trip has been, I am sure many of us are looking forward to being able to get back to land so that we can see our family and friends. I know that I miss them all. Mom and Dad, I miss you, I will be back on land soon, and I will have a lot to talk about. Stay safe and enjoy the rest of June, I will talk to you in ten days. Also, tell everyone else that I miss them as well.