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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

April 26, 2014

C252 Web Blog - 26 April 2014

Allison Work, Whitman College


Land ho! Students standing by as we motor into Bermuda.

Ship's Log

Docked in St. Georges, Bermuda

Just as we’re finally catching on to this whole life-at-sea thing, we’re thrown a new curveball: arrival in Bermuda! We are here one day early according to our itinerary, mainly because we made good time from San Juan and the weather forecast isn’t looking great for the next couple of days. We receive daily weather faxes while out at sea, so we’ve been tracking the southward progress of a significant cold front coming south from the East Coast. Predicted high winds and seas didn’t sound particularly peachy next to the option of an extra day in a calm port, so we motor sailed out of yesterday’s hove to position into Bermuda this afternoon.

We could see the greenish-whiteish mass of land for much of the morning-it was so odd to see something other than the deep blue and white of the ocean and waves in all directions-and this afternoon, we met a Bermudan pilot just offshore to guide us into port. For larger vessels, it’s customary to invite a local captain onboard to direct the ship into the harbor, and many ports require it. After seeing the entrance to the St. George’s harbor this afternoon, this practice makes plenty of sense to me: only a local would know the best way to safely sail the Cramer through the 174 foot wide harbor entrance and pull up perfectly alongside the dock in one attempt. It can’t be easy, since I know myself it’s plenty challenging to steer the correct heading even out in the middle of the open ocean. We’re now tied up alongside, and I’ve had a pretty difficult time adjusting to these calmer harbor waters. Not only do things actually stay where you place them on a flat surface-a revolutionary concept-but you don’t need to time your own movement against the significant pitching of the boat. I bent down in lab this afternoon to pick something up off a low shelf and felt a bit lightheaded standing back up, since I was expecting to have to shift my weight around in an immediate reaction to whatever the current ocean conditions required. I’m excited for our time in Bermuda, but it does mean we’ll most likely have to entirely regain our sea legs when we set sail for New York next weekend.  

We remained on the Cramer this afternoon and evening, and the extra time in calm waters gives us the chance to catch up on a few business items before we head into a busy week on land. The next few days are our last chance to extract and amplify DNA from organisms we’ve collected so far on the cruise, since they’ll be sent back to Woods Hole for sequencing while we sail to New York. People are also jumping at the chance to pipette without missing the target tube and use a microscope without risk of sending the sample all over the sole (floor), so lab has been pretty packed and we’ll have instruments running throughout the night. The crew is calling it a “science frenzy,” a term derived from the “star frenzy” of star-sighting and sextant-marking that occurs around dusk and dawn whenever celestial navigation homework is due.

We’re technically halfway done with the sailing part of our journey. While I’m well into the rhythm of life aboard the Cramer by now, I still have SO much to learn. We had a class lesson yesterday from Chief Engineer Alex, explaining the reverse osmosis water filtration system we have on board that replenishes the majority of our freshwater. And that’s only one of dozens of fascinating, critical systems on board that I haven’t yet encountered. There’s constantly vocabulary to learn and functional skills to perfect like sail handling, but also systems and methods of navigation and questions about absolutely everything to further investigate. Even though there’s much to learn, preparing the Cramer for docking proved just how far we’ve come.

If you’d told me two weeks ago that today I’d be passing the starboard forestays’l sheet as we gybed and hauling in the tops’l brails to strike that sail (then eating a figure-eight knot-shaped pretzel in celebration afterwards), I’d have asked you to please repeat that in actual English and then point out the specific sails. But we did all that and more today in preparation for the packed and super fun-looking week ahead of us in Bermuda. Rumor has it there’s some free time for island exploration and swimming, and take note, family and friends: I also hear there will be some student expeditions to find internet access!

- Allison

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


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