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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 24, 2015

Ben Runs the Show and No Serious Disasters Happen

Ben Lehr, C Watch, Vassar College

Transatlantic Crossing

Call me Ben

Ship's Log

Noon Position
50° 06.4’N x 016° 50.4’W

Description of location
300 nm southwest of Fastnet Rock

Ship Heading
085° PSC

Ship Speed
5.1 knots

Taffrail Log
2484.0 nm

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Partly sunny and reasonably warm; Winds SxW Force 6, Seas SxW 6 feet. Sailing on a starboard tack under the two stays’ls.

Marine Mammals Observed last 24hrs (estimate of totals)
20-40 pilot whales, 1 pilot human

Sargassum Observed last 24hrs (estimate of totals)

Souls on Board

Today I was a Junior Watch Officer, which meant that I was supposed to run the deck, under Chief Mate Mackenzie’s supervision. I was a bit nervous for this, because usually I prefer to be a lookout, zone out, philosophize, and serenade myself with national anthems. Fortunately I prepared for it pretty well and for the first couple of hours everything went smoothly. Then it was time to strike the tops’l, gybe, heave to, and strike the jib so that Science could deploy the styrocast. For you spineless landlubbers, that means we had to turn around, stop, and drop a wire over the side with a bunch of colored styrofoam cups attached. Very serious nautical business. I have magical whale sensing powers, so I was able to time everything so we hove to right next to a huge awesome pod of pilot whales. I used to think that pilot whales were just small orcas trying to be dolphins, but they are so much more than that.

For three hours while we were hove to, the pilot whales chilled out next to the boat, including several of what Maria “PoleCat” Kalambokidis calls “little nubbins of whale,” known to normal people as whale babies. They played next to their mothers, breaching, spyhopping, slapping their flukes on the water, flipping onto their backs and waving their pectoral fins at us, and generally being almost adorable enough to force me to kidnap one and train it to be my successor. At this point a big Irish government aircraft came out of nowhere and flew close by our boat to check us out, a surprisingly exciting event for people who haven’t seen any machinery up close besides Cramer since a Canadian plane that flew by a couple of weeks ago.

I am a strong believer in benevolent dictatorship, so I gave the rest of my watch a break from most deck work while I kept track of the radar and made sure we took care of everything mission critical. Eventually watch was over, and I passed the Junior Watch Officer cape to Sean. I ate delicious chicken potpie and went to sleep. Seemingly five minutes later, I heard Garrett’s dusty New England accent saying, “Ben, I’m not doing this again,” as he woke me up late for class, an unsurprisingly common occurrence. Class was on deck, and once I was there Raquel gave me a message in a bottle to sign. As I opened it, still mostly asleep, a bunch of smaller messages attached to the larger one blew into the ocean, soliciting dismayed screams from my fellow students sitting blurrily in my peripheral vision. Confused but strangely satisfied, I sat down among them to listen to presentations and look at crazy animals we caught in our meter net last night. Next I ate a
pretzel and busted out a poster about Nelson Mandela, then ate dinner. Now I am sitting among my fellow watch members, watching Joseph “Thar She Joes” Sitzmann cajole our Cornell-grad salty seadog deckhand Clare aka Cracker into coloring in and cutting out tree branch shapes for his poster. It’s time for me to go pretend to read something literary and go to sleep, so I’ll leave you with this fresh haiku from Doc Hofmann:

     New Irish Welcome
     Pilot Whales Surround our Ship
     Air Force Fly Over

Thanks for reading!


Mom-I’m safe and healthy, sometimes tired but having an unbelievable time. Hope you’ve made some progress on the plastics, it’s amazing how much there is out here. Miss you!

Dad- I’m going to go through hard manual labor withdrawal, let’s fix up the Baltimore trail when I get back!

Jen- I’ve been spending a lot of time with zooplankton and they’re almost but not quite an adequate replacement for my little sister. Miss you, hope you’re having a “whale” of a time in Chicago!

Anna- I wish you could have watched the sunset with me last night! Thinking a lot about when we were on the dock in Maine. Can’t wait until I can hear about your New York life and see you in three dimensions.

Farley, Chaco, Nate- Woof!

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Transatlantic Crossing, • Topics: c260  sailing  styrocast  megafauna • (0) Comments
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