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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

April 25, 2014

C252 Web Blog - 25 April 2014

Mandy Camp & Callie Bateson, Stetson University & Rollins College

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One hand for yourself, one for the ship.” Callie and Mandy standing sunset lookout

Ship's Log

Position
30° 09’ N X 064° 45’ W
Weather
clear skies, 21°C, northwesterly winds at Beaufort Force 7, seas between 7-10ft

So, you have all heard about our science, but what is ship life really like? What do we do on “watch”? Our watch rotation is a means of keeping tabs on our progress and safety aboard the Corwith Cramer. There are two six-hour day shifts and three four-hour night shifts in a 24 hour period. A watch group typically is responsible for one day shift and one night shift, and these rotate in a three day cycle. So, on Monday you may have watch from 0700-1300, and then again from 2300-0300. Tuesday your watches would be from 1300-1900 and 0300-0700, and Wednesday you would serve the 1900-2300 and the cycle would start over again with your watch from 0700-1300 Thursday morning. So what does progress and safety entail for watch responsibilities, you ask? There is line handling to be done, steering at the helm, hourly boat checks (deck, below deck and the engine room) and weather observations, galley duty, and a lookout position posted on the bow at night. Those of us on watch but not on deck work in the lab laboring away on our projects, deployments and broader S.E.A research.

My favorite watch position is night lookout. Not much can be compared to standing on the bow, wind blowing in your hair, a breath-taking blanket of stars above you and finally, silence. Your own space and silence are commodities on the ship, but this is the one place where I have found it. It serves as time to think, process, enjoy the experience and reflect; while looking for adverse weather and traffic, of course.

Depending on weather conditions and on board activity, sails have to be set, struck and adjusted. When we are doing science, we pull sails in tight to attain a certain lower speed. Seas have been high recently and winds strong as well, so yesterday afternoon, we struck the mains’l. This was a collective effort of twenty or more students and staff, as it takes a lot of muscle to get it down and furled. After hauling in the sheet to make sure the sail was nice and tight, we hauled down the sail. Then, we climbed up on the top of one of the deck cabins to furl the sail and secure sail ties.

Now, I mentioned seas were high. This meant that the ship was keeling over generously when big rollers hit. So, when atop the cabin furling the mains’l, I wasn’’t sure whether to be totally freaked out or think it was totally awesome when we felt a big wave hit and the ship heaved over, we looked up and saw the water’s surface fifteen feet from our faces… WHILE we were on top of the cabin. It was scary but sooo cool! Now, I’‘ll add that we are required to wear harnesses on deck and be clipped in at all times when conditions are windy or wavy, so parents, the crew put our safety above all else. But it was an awesome experience.

One more thing that I’’ll mention that hasn’‘t been touched on is the professional sport of showering on board. We are allowed showers every three days directly following when we serve the 0300-0700 watch. This is because when we have this watch, we are responsible for Dawn Cleanup; sweeping and scrubbing the floors on hand and knee, cleaning the heads and restocking all of the soap, toilet paper, etc. So, a shower is well deserved after that. As good as it feels to get clean, it really is a challenge to get that way. You have to be constantly bracing yourself against a wall or you’ll get thrown about by the waves. However, this is the same everywhere: meal time, in your bunk, on deck etc. It’s just a little more difficult when you’re trying to scrub and rinse, and you’re slippery to boot.

It’s is certainly a daily adventure to live aboard the ship, and there have been times I’’ve wondered what I had gotten myself into, and times I have loved every second. Regardless, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we have learned so much and will have radically different perspectives and appreciations for several things after this experience.

I hope this has enhanced understanding of how we are living on the ship, how things really are. They are a struggle, a constant battle, a never-ending lesson, a once-in-a-life time experience, and mostly, they are unforgettable.

Fair winds and following seas,
Mandy

Shoutouts: To Mom, Daddy, Cass, Grama, Papa and all other dearests and sponsors that are following – I’’m doing it! It’s not easy, but what would I get out of it if it were? It’s worth all of the hard work that I put in to be here. Thanks for supporting me and making it possible. Mama, by the time you read this, I’ll have been in Bermuda for a day and a half and you will have heard from me, so no worries! Daddy, I wear your necklace every day. It keeps me safe and motivated when things get tough. Love you all, talk to you soon!

———

It’s a weird feeling, looking out a window and seeing the world at a 45° angle while the room that you are currently in seems upright and normal. This is something we have been experiencing lately due to some pretty high waves and tough weather. My favorite view is in the library because the port window is periodically under water. It is as if you are on a never-ending rollercoaster that you just learn to live with. Don’’t get me wrong; it’s actually really fun when you slide across the floor in one direction even though you meant to be walking in another direction.

Completing scientific work on land will never feel the same again. Racks of extracted DNA won’‘t be flying across the room, buckets of Sargassum won’t be sloshing around in the sink, and we won’t have to take a wide-legged stance to make sure we don’t fall over while pipetting. These are all challenges that we face on a daily basis, but we welcome them with open arms.  Lately the weather has been so bad that we have had to halt scientific deployment. This means no new data but plenty of time for progress on individual projects. Groups have begun molecular work on their species, extracting DNA, forming PCR products, and putting the products on a gel to see if their process is actually working. These are all steps that must be taken before we send the DNA off to be sequenced back in Woods Hole. Snaps to all the groups for really kicking it into high gear despite the tough working conditions!

As cliché as it is, a smooth sea never made a skillful sailor (and in our case, a skillful scientist too).

- Callie

PS. Quick shout out to my friends and family! Mom, Dad, Julia, and all my friends at Rollins: love you, miss you, and can’t wait to see you soon!

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Marine Biodiversity & Conservation, • Topics: c252 • (0) Comments

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