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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

June 20, 2015

Drop On the Deck and Flop like a Fish

Raquel Goldman, A Watch, St. John’s College

Transatlantic Crossing

Aidan, Joe, Ben and Audrey observe the albacore

Ship's Log

Noon position
46°21.3’ N x 028°53.0’ W

Description of location
Heading over the Atlantic Ridge

Ship Heading
075° PSC

Ship Speed
8 knots

Taffrail Log
1944.6 nm

Weather/ Wind/ Sail Plan
Breezy, not too chilly/ S wind Force 4/ SE seas 4 feet/Sailing under the four lowers with a single-reefed main.

Marine Mammals Observed last 24hrs
Several happy common dolphins

Sargassum Observed last 24hrs

Souls on Board

Hi everybody!

I’ll tell you the story of when we caught a tuna.

Early this morning I was enjoying being the lookout on the bow.  It was cloudy and very picturesque; the sun was just ahead of us, and whenever it broke through the clouds it made the water shine silver like a sea of mercury. Cuts of the sky were still blue, and old naturalist paintings came to mind. This was around 0745 (7:45 am).

Now, our engineer Willie is a devoted fisherman, and he leaves a fishing line tied to the quarterdeck during the day, in case some sea creature decides to bite on a shiny lie. This line is mostly unattended and uneventful, but not today. I could hear everybody getting excited: when you’re on bow watch, it’s hard to hear much of what people are saying all the way at the other end of the ship, but a small crowd of us had gathered around the starboard side of the quarterdeck, where the fishing line hung off the ship. I couldn’t see what was going on, only that someone was extending a gaff over the side and that the bait shot up into the air as something spat it out. This was the first attempt at catching a fish, which failed.

A few minutes later, with the crowd still gathered around the quarterdeck, there was more chatter from everyone as I turned around to look: Willie pulled up a 2-and-a-half-foot albacore tuna, shiny silver and blue, and let it drop onto the deck . It thrashed stiffly for a few seconds before Willie swiftly ended its life, and we had a magnificent fish to eat. Since I’m a vegetarian I won’t partake in this feast, but everybody else is quite happy.

This isn’t all that happened today! The whole thing lasted only a few minutes, and then some since Willie cleaned and filleted the fish on deck shortly afterward. I was still on watch, and had six hours to go before lunchtime. We handled some sails as we hove-to (stopped/slowed the ship) for science, and helped lower the hydrocast onto the deck. We also practiced our work with sextants: I always feel like I’m in Master and Commander when I use them. Finding our exact location using a sextant is going to take me some practice, but it’ll come over time. (Or we’re going to get lost, aren’t we?)

We had sandwiches with fresh bread from scratch for lunch (thanks Jen!). It was field day today, and that means cleanliness. All was scrubbed inside and out, and the ship is happy: every field day all the items from the galley (kitchen) that can be washed are washed, and fire-lined up to the deck. Music is played and it feels just like a party. To celebrate going over the Atlantic Ridge, we tossed pennies and a wish over the side of the ship – into the deepest wishing-well in the world.

I’d love to give some of my thoughts on being on the Cramer. The first week I was quite uncertain about the experience, having just graduated from college, and having just spent four of those years in college on a mountain in the middle of a desert in New Mexico (quite a different place from the Atlantic). I was also quite seasick, which is discouraging. But as I got used to life on the ship, there would be one moment after another of something new and incredible. There’s nothing quite like being woken up with “Whale off the port bow!” and hurrying up the ladder to find yourself in bare feet and shorts in the middle of the Atlantic on a sparkling day. (Have you ever experienced this? It feels so freeing!) Or (as I’m sure another fellow blogger has mentioned so far) watching dolphins swimming by the bow at night activate the bioluminescence in the water, causing them to give off a glow and leave swirling trails of light. To quote Mate Mackenzie: “This is where mermaids come from.” If you’re reading this, Llyd, you can only imagine how this makes me feel.

I cannot describe how grateful I am for the company of this ship. While seasick and throwing up over the side, they were nothing but supportive and understanding, and as we enter new phases of learning, this is still the case.

I am about to go on mid-watch,  where we’ll continue our speedy course, hove-to (for science!) and slow down the ship to let the neuston net pick up any organisms for study. Sail handling, steering the ship, all that good stuff. So I’m going to leave you guys, and hit the deck (not like a fish). Good night!

A relevant haiku from Michael Hoffman:

“Fish on!” says the helm
The Captain slows down the ship
Albacore for lunch

- Raquel

P.S. Shoutout to Mom, Dad, Clara, Lysander and Llyd! (To Dad: Happy early Father’s Day!!)

Messages in a bottle:
Just checking in and saying hello. I’m having a wonderful time! I got to see dolphins swimming through bioluminescent waves, and lots of pilot whales. Love you all, and I’ll talk to you soon. Also, a very happy birthday to Scott! – Sarah McTague

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Transatlantic Crossing, • Topics: c260  sailing  megafauna • (2) Comments


Leave a public comment for students and crew to read when they reach their next port and have access to the internet!

#1. Posted by Blanca Gastelum on June 24, 2015

Dearest Raquel,

It is so good to read your report of the day and know you are so ecstatic in this amazing voyage, enjoying every bit of experience these wonderful team has to offer to all of the ship members.

Hugs and kisses from all the family!

Mom, dad and Clara, and Angie and Effy too.
Also hugs from Maria, Myriam, Val and all. They wish you the best.
Love and miss you a lot.

#2. Posted by Llyd on June 25, 2015

It’s been wonderful and thought-provoking to read these blog entries, which bring me back to my own experiences—not unambivalent but certainly life-changing—aboard the Westward in 1998. I’m especially pleased to share in the experiences of my two former students, Raquel and BC. My best to both of you!



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