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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
December 22, 2014
In transit from St. John to St. Croix
The academic portion of C256 is all wrapped up, which might lead you to believe that we are all taking it easy on the Cramer, but the ship is still bustling with activity. This morning, while at anchor in Francis Bay in the beautiful national park of St. John, USVI, the entire ship’s company did our most thorough cleaning of the ship yet. It started out with an activity called bunk love, in which all of the off-going crew packs away their souvenirs, foul weather gear, and foul smelling clothes to empty and clean their bunks. While bunk love was going on, the rest of the ship’s company was working on various projects or stowing the ship for sea. The next big thing to do was our final field day. We were able to clean even more of the infrequently seen spaces of the ship during this event, as the whole ship’s company has become very familiar and efficient with their duties, so everything gets done fairly quickly.
After the ship got cleaned, there was time for a swim call before lunch, and then a little break before our big celebration, locally known as ‘swizzle’. Swizzle is a time for the entire crew to spend some relaxed time together to think about the past, present and future: we remember the journey that we just had together and all that we’ve been through, we entertain ourselves and enjoy each other’s company, and we look forward to wonder what life will be like when we leave each other and the Cramer. It may seem odd, but the SEA experience is not about sailing across the ocean, visiting cool places, or even doing science. Our chief mate read us an excerpt from “Tuning the Rig” during swizzle: “So much of the pressure on land is toward seeking loopholes in order to excel; at sea it is toward refusing them in order to belong.”
The Tuning the Rig reading, as well as a reading from “Two Years Before the Mast” were a couple of the more serious moments from swizzle. Another touching moment came when our steward Nina, who you have read so much about if you have been following this blog, received a handmade apron, signed by the whole crew. I’ve been lucky enough to sail with Nina twice now, and this could be her last trip, as she’s making the transition back to full-time shore life! Her joyful spirit and great food will be missed.
There were plenty of lighthearted spectacles to go along with these serious moments. Nina and I wrote a playful song poking fun at our shipmates, there was a Cramer Christmas carol and Zach’s original “Twas the hour before midwatch” reading. Heather compiled a video of our trip which we all got to view, and we also got to see our captain tell a story/do a magic trick. Farley told a story in a thick Maine accent, Kevin sang an original song (Star-Frenzy), and we had some theatre in one-minute long ‘fractured fairy tales’. The list could go on and on, but as the newest members of the crew will soon find out, there is no way to fully convey their experience on board the Corwith Cramer.