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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

June 18, 2018

Boat Time

Melissa Hughes, Professor of Biology, College of Charleston

Sometime in the night, the engines were turned off; when I joined my fellow B-watchers on deck at 10 minutes before midnight, we were sailing! (We’ve had beautiful weather but little wind on this voyage, so this was our first watch without the engines.) I took first shift at the helm, watching the stars through the rigging to hold the course. Just 48hrs earlier, I was sleeping on a boat for the first time in my life, having boarded a boat with sails for the first time in my life just a few short hours earlier. But this is my second midnight watch, and all the nervous anxiety of that first night seemed a lifetime ago. This is boat time.

Under Heartbreak’s ever-calm, kind and re-assuring guidance, I was at the helm for the first of 2 jibes. Then I was at lookout for the second, after which the engines returned and the lights came on like day - time to strike the sails in preparation for approaching the canal. Downhauls and halyards - words I didn’t know 48hrs earlier - make complete sense to me now. Hopping up on the lab roof or climbing out on the bow sprit - unimaginable 2 days ago, unimaginable to not do it now. And then I was scuttling around the deck in the renewed darkness, coiling and hanging lines, punching the dragon and twisting his tongue as if I’d been doing it for years, instead of staring blankly at Heartbreak when she first tried to teach it 48hrs ago. Boat time.

The Cramer passed through the canal while I slept, but when B watch was back on deck we were sailing again, and even raised the top sail - just long enough to coil and hang before we had to strike it because we were making too good time. Is it weird that the hour of raising and striking that sail was my favorite of the watch? 48hrs ago that would sound frustrating to me. Today it was a blast. Boat time.

By the end of the afternoon, we’re anchored back at Martha’s Vineyard, where we spent our first night aboard just 2 days ago. In the morning we’ll be back on dock. When we were last on that dock, I remember looking at the Cramer for the first time and being in awe of the boat. How quickly it became home. (Boat time.)

Standing on the dock to take a last look at the Cramer before leaving, it was the crew that held my awe - the most patient and kind and amazingly talented community you can imagine - so much expertise, teaching (and managing) so many completely sail-naive and nervous newbies, and seeming to have so much fun in the process. And all those formerly nervous newbies, like me, in just 48hrs transformed into members of that community (members with far less expertise, but all the kindness and fun). So thank you, fellow Colleague Voyagers (especially B-watch / Bay-Watch / Whale-Watch / Sail-Watch!), and a special thank you, with endless gratitude and admiration, to the crew of the Corwith Cramer - I’ve learned so much more from you than you probably think, and certainly more than I thought possible in such a short time. Smooth sails to you all.

Categories: Corwith Cramer, • Topics: colleague cruise  study abroad • (0) Comments
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