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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer

December 17, 2020

“Be where your feet are”

Sylvia Sage Holland, A Watch, Wellesley College


Above: Magical Hanukah moment with Lila and Megan; Below: Sylvia reading in the head rig.

Ship's Log

Noon Position
25 44.7’ N x 082 34.6’ W

Ship Heading

Ship Speed
4.5 knots

Taffrail Log
3318 nm

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Winds NxW, force 4, 4ft. seas

Description of location
82nm WSW of Cape Romano, FL

Marine Mammals Observed last 24hrs
Dolphins (of course)

Other cool critters
A whole bunch of Moon Jellies!

Sargassum Observed last 24hrs

Souls on board

This week has been literally filled with light: falling stars, lightning, bioluminescence, and the steadily increasing illumination of the menorah.

This evening marked the eighth night of Hanukah and Lila, one of our scientists, made a lovely menorah entirely out of scrap materials and birthday candles! As the weather wasn't cooperating, we had a magical celebration inside the lab. Even the students processing sediment samples agreed to pause and turn the lights out for a moment as we said prayers and sang. I felt such gratitude as our voices filled the small space and each person's face was lit by the soft and steady light of the candles.

These are the moments that stand out to me-like a "time out of time"-when I choose to be nowhere else but here. Maybe this week has contained more of those moments than usual or maybe I'm just noticing them more now that I'm beginning to orient towards home. Even mundane things like morning chores or meal times have an added glow that draws me to be more present with my activity and the people I'm with.

In one of our recent watch meetings Olivia, our watch scientist, shared a saying from the Island School that really resonated with me: "Be where your feet are." With our hours so full of sail handling, pH processing, dishes, and boat checks, it can be difficult to remember to pause and absorb a moment through all my sense.

I find that reconnecting with the Cramer's unique sensory landscape always brings me right back to where "my feet are:"

  • Clink of the harnesses of people on watch
  • The smell on the science deck of the next meal cooking just below in the galley
  • Red and green sailing lights and the pattern they shine on the rigging
  • Watching Saturn and Jupiter draw closer and closer together
  • The constant clicks of Chirp (our instrument to get ocean depth) in the salon
  • The jerk of the helm as it talks to the rudder
  • Smoothness of the deck and the delightful squishiness of the caulking in perfect lines down its length
  • The smells wafting up from dry stores
  • Our dolphin friends coming by to visit again and again
  • The graceful curls of stratus clouds
  • The heat on the inside of the porthole cover when the sun is shining outside the dark lab
  • Smell from the blackwater vent on the foredeck
  • The call to set or strike a sail
  • The orange glow of the compass at night
  • Wind on my face and in my hair and through the seams of my jacket
  • Rows of string wrapped tightly around the charthouse pens
  • The outline of our (usually) gently swaying masts against the night sky
  • Gurgling and swooshing of waves against the hull while I'm in my bunk
  • The constant purr of salon and bunk fans
  • Ocean spray from an unexpected wave
  • Knowing when and where Orion will rise and its relationship to the Pleiades
  • The red inside of the hull, the yellow masts and bowsprit, the white of the lab and charthouse
  • The welcome clang of the triangle calling us to meals
  • The lines of the headrig pressing into my body as I lie listening to the waves breaking on the hull
  • Watching a storm come and pass

Intentionally creating time to process the experience of this trip has been just as important as recording the hourly weather or doing 100 counts from our Neuston tows. I'm grateful to Captain Allison for holding a minute of silence at the beginning of many of our classes, Olivia for her journal prompts and teaching us box breathing, Megan for dawn watch teatime, Lila for singing with me, and all my watchmates for being here fully every step
of the way.

Most of all I'm grateful to the Cramer-a tiny wood and metal oasis allowing us to explore the vast expanse of sea and sky.

- Sylvia Sage Holland, A Watch, Wellesley College

P.S. I am so excited to be home soon and eat so many vegetables (and rice) and get lots of sleep and hugs and watch movies. Miss you!

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Caribbean Reef Expedition, • Topics: c295  life at sea  study abroad  science  sailing  gap year • (2) Comments
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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 Grace Holland on December 20, 2020

Hi Sylvia, If you’re reading this, hopefully your two feet are on solid ground—what a thing to need to get used to! We have an expanded, Sylvia-shaped hole at home, waiting for you to fill. Thanks for giving your all to ship and shipmates; now you can look forward to some deep rest and a house full of friends in the new year! We’ve checked the blog daily, which has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, along with watching the red icon of the SSV CC zigzagging and crisscrossing the map of the Gulf of Mexico! Here, we’ve been graced with 2 feet of snow, so look forward to a roaring fire and lots of hot veggie dishes! Your final post created a sensory experience for us and offers an anchor to many memories for you and your shipmates. RESPECT!

#2. Posted by Elizabeth Cadwell on February 17, 2021

Dear Sylvia…I am a bit delayed in responding, but am thrilled to learn that you participated in this Semester at Sea program. It seems so perfect for you, and I have loved reading your reflections. Hope to see you and your family soon!
Love, Elizabeth and Co.



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