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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

October 22, 2020

Engineering Spotlight

Raechel Zeller, B watch, Middlebury College


Above: JC and Alexis working on the deck generator; Below: JC helping B watch set the main’sl; Enjoying sunset from the elephant table below the main stay’sl and the fish.

Ship's Log

Present Location
42° 22.1’ N 069° 11.7’ W

Ship’s Heading, Speed and Sail Plan
South at around 5 knots to do more science at George’s Bank! Sailing with the main’sl with a shallow reef, the main stay’sl, the forward stay’sl, the jib, and the fisherman’s sail.

Light ESE breeze, clear skies, shooting stars, and a refreshing chill

Souls on board

Last night as B watch sailed to 1 am through a thick and very damp fog, another member of the crew was up with us-flitting around corners and in and out of the engine room like the ghost of late-night boat checks. This morning we awoke to a beautiful and (eventually) sunny day filled with shearwaters flying alongside the bow while I stood at lookout, and previously emptying water tanks filling with sweet, sweet freshwater: all thanks to the hard work of JC, the newest and most welcome honorary member of B Watch.

JC is our Chief Engineer aboard Cramer, and while his primary workspace may be the engine room and he’s in the spotlight while we’re under motor power, his job extends well beyond that to basically every piece of equipment (from water makers to heads to doorknobs) that keeps us living comfortably aboard the ship. His schedule is a little different from everyone else’s in that he doesn’t follow any watches like the watch officers and students and no meal schedule like Katey and Adam in the Galley. JC follows the ship’s schedule and is on call all the time to attend to her needs. Some days it seems that JC is everywhere at once working on different things that have slowed down or broken, and other days he seems to have a more relaxing time, just getting regular checks done and doing routine maintenance.

Each student spends at least a couple of minutes in the engine room every time they’re on deck watch checking on machinery and gauges for hourly boat checks. But every tenth watch or so we’re assigned to shadow JC in his engineering duties and get to spend 6 hours seeing what it’s like to be an engineer on a boat like Cramer. My engineering day has been one of my favorite watches so far. I helped JC troubleshoot a problem with one of the water-maker pumps and spent a lot of time down in dry storage beneath the main salon unscrewing and re-screwing pipes. It was fun to do something a little different from the normal watch for a bit and get to know JC better.

Troubles with the water-maker obviously didn’t stop there with JC up late getting them running last night as we got far enough offshore to comfortably make water- but all is well now and we have two water makers refilling our tanks. Other days JC has stayed busy high up in the rigging: once to fix our GPS antenna and another time fixing the anemometer (which reads the wind speed and direction) that got struck by lightning a couple months ago when the ship was under maintenance in Rockland. He’s also unclogged several heads, fixed some light switches, discovered the problem with a ventilation switch I noticed wasn’t working and was making the heads near my bunk a little smellier than I liked, and countless other thankless tasks.

B Watch has had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with JC and even gotten his help a couple times with some sail-handling, and we’re very happy to have him and grateful for everything he does to keep the ship running and comfy for us all. smile

Finally, a big welcome to our new 3rd mate Cassie who joined us in P-Town yesterday. And cheers to finally reaching the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Maine, setting the fisherman’s sail for the first time this trip, and getting started on our real cruise track!

- Raechel Zeller, Middlebury College ‘22

PS:  Mom and dad, love and miss you and hope dry season is coming in easy! Dan and Lucas- love and hugs and can’t wait for adventures at Christmas. To the Pranksters, my whole heart- I can’t wait to get back on the field with every single one of you, and I promise I’ve got flair getting good use. Sid and Josie- so much love and counting down the days till I can squeeze you both. Kam, I hope you’re having the best adventures and enjoying every second outside. Tara, your paintings and the photos make my bunk a little brighter every time I open an envelope. Love to everyone at Midd in Meeker and Painter- can’t wait to see you all again soon.

Editor's Note: In response to the coronavirus pandemic, all SEA Semester students, faculty, and crew aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer boarded the ship after strictly isolating on our Woods Hole campus for a minimum of two weeks, and after repeated negative tests for COVID-19. To ensure the health and safety of those onboard, the ship will not conduct any port stops and will remain in coastal waters so that any unlikely medical situations may be resolved quickly.

Previous entry: Into the Fog    Next entry: Grateful to be Sailing


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 Zia Anna on October 24, 2020

Thank you, JC, for keeping the Corwith Cramer and our kids up and running and safe! Enjoy!  Zia Anna from Zürich

#2. Posted by Janice Parker on October 24, 2020

Raechel, thank you for this description and pictures of my wonderful son - JC, to you. I think you are so fortunate that he is working with you and I’m glad you appreciate him.
Following all the posts and the current position map is a nice way to feel in touch.
‘Sending a big hug to my ‘boy’!



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