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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

March 02, 2014

C251 Web Blog - 02 March 2014

Trevor Kaufman, Assistant Engineer


Deckhand Matt Harrison uses a sextant to determine the altitude of Hamal, a navigation star, during this evening’s “star frenzy”. (Photo by Janet Bering)

Ship's Log

Current Position
15° 18.7’‘N x 60° 40.9’‘W
28 nautical miles ENE of Dominica

Motorsailing under the staysails
Speed Over Ground
5.4 knots
mostly clear with a few cumulus clouds, SE winds, force 2, 25° C

Greetings from the engineering department aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer! It’s almost 2300 and the ship is as alive as ever.  A Watch is in the process of taking the deck from C watch, and the entire ship is humming in tune with our throaty Cummins diesel.  You can feel the rumble in your feet, your ears, your chest: motorsailing!  We’‘d probably all prefer to straight sail whenever possible, but it sure is pleasant to fall asleep to the deep vibrations of the main engine.  We are just now rolling over the hundredth hour of motoring on this trip – not bad considering we’‘ve been out for more than 2 weeks, and so far are exactly where we need to be to complete our passage on time.

It’s another mostly clear night full of tropical stars.  The air is warm, and there is only our apparent wind to speak of.  The seas are nearly flat so we are able to steer more or less exactly where we want to go, instead of bearing off of the swell.  I talked to Captain Elliot earlier and he explained that we are trying to stay well off of Dominica to the southeast, in order to sample the deep waters during our midnight science station. Last night’s surface tow brought up a great assortment of plankton and micro-nekton, and here’s hoping for another good scoop of marine biota tonight.  Yay, science!

The ship is in top shape, as usual, and engineering has been going smoothly since we rewired some appliances in Antigua.  Today was spent repairing minor nuisances in the galley and doghouse, as well as digging into shop manuals to gain more familiarity with the equipment on board.  I strayed out of my normal duties today, starting off with scratch brewing a large pot of spiced chai tea for morning snack (to go with some delightful kiwi fruit), and finishing with giving a haircut to Jenny, one of our two wonderful stewards.  It turns out that cutting girls’ hair is pretty easy, excepting the rolling deck and the wind. 

The students are starting to find their groove in “Phase 2”, where they begin to assume full watch responsibilities from the crew.  I talked to the Chief Mate, Will McLean, about how the students were developing.  “They’’re growing like weeds, I can’t hold ‘em back!” says Will with a big smile. He added that the students have made a strong start and they are almost – but not quite – ready to take over. 

Most of the students I have talked to seem to be greatly enjoying the trip so far, although many of them are quick to point out that the sailing experience is not quite as romantic as they first imagined.  Some struggle with the technical aspects of sailing: learning lines, reading the wind, finding the perfect rudder angle to stay on course (without pinching!). Others find more challenge in the close living quarters and the bizarre sleeping schedule.  But overall, I haven’’t talked to a student that hasn’t mentioned how much they’’ve learned, whether it’s a greater appreciation for the creature comforts of home, or an enhanced awareness of their strengths and limitations.  When off watch, opportunities abound for quiet contemplation, and the challenging and dynamic environment provides much to think about.

Personally, I’’m thinking about how soft my pillow is going to feel in about 10 minutes, but I can’’t end this blog without some shout-outs:

First off, to Texas:  Happy Independence Day.  Janet, sporting her trademark Lonestar shorts, taught us all some great Texas facts (myths?) and the stewards helped celebrate by serving up some Texas-inspired cuisine: cheesy grits for breakfast, barbecued chicken for lunch, pecan pie for afternoon snack, and enchiladas for dinner.  Yum. Thanks Texas.

From Mo, a shout out to “Mom, Dad, and my big bro. Love you lots, no squalls to windward!

From Thom, a shout out to “my lovely wife and beautiful dogs”

From Jenny, “to my homeskillets, go big or go home!”

From me, a shout out to my sister Marisa (couldn’’t leave you out) and brother Alex (happy belated 22nd buddy!)

From the Corwith Cramer, thanks for keeping up with us via our fascinating blog.  Remember, I’’m pulling for you, and we’re all in this together.  Keep your stick on the ice.

- Trevor

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Ocean Exploration, • Topics: c251  celestial navigation • (0) Comments


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