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.
SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
March 11, 2019
Field Day Reflections
18° 58.6’ N x 078° 47.1’ W
Ship’s Heading & Speed
HT, 1 kn
Winds E’ly at F5, Seas E’ly at 4 ft, Skies are 3/8ths Cu.
The second to last field day of the voyage is scheduled for today, but as I have learned with life aboard, the schedule is always subject to change. Since I am part of A watch, that means I have the joy of cleaning every surface and dish in the galley. It also means that there will be music and candy for snack, which are honestly the best two things about field day. Other than field day though, today is an average day at sea. The watches will rotate, keeping the sails full and the boat running. Science will happen and sargassum will be processed (as long as we aren’t too close to Cuba). Today I have the afternoon watch starting at 1300 after lunch. We will process a Neuston tow and dip net for clumps of sargassum. We also will set and strike the raffee for the first time on the voyage. Afterward, I am looking forward to the sunset and a good night’s sleep as we sail closer and closer to Grand Cayman Island.
When reflecting on this experience as a whole, it’s easy to ask, why did I do this? Why would I subject myself to the seasickness, sleeping in my own sweat, an ever-changing sleeping schedule, freshwater showers every three days where I only feel clean afterward for three hours at best, toilets that you have to manually pump, tables where I can’t rest my elbows or my dinner falls in my lap, unrelenting sun, sunburns despite putting on enough sunscreen to coat a five-story wedding cake, sleeping in a bunk the size of a coffin, wearing the same clothes day after day, having unlimited access to Nutella and peanut butter but not to cereal (and the only milk on board is ultra-pasteurized), having to clean some part of the ship every day, hot spots and blisters on my hands from sweating lines, and so on and so on.
Whenever I find myself asking this question, I look back to my previous experiences that have caused me to feel the same way. From my involvement in Boy Scouts, I have had the opportunity to hike for weeks in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in New Mexico, canoe and portage for multiple weeks in the boundary waters between Canada and the States, live on an uninhabited island in the Florida Keys, backpack in the Porcupine Mountains and Isle Royale, and so much more. In each of these adventures, I have sweat, worked, sunburned, been filthy, and learned, just as I have on the Cramer. As I have made it through all of the challenges and difficulties of those times before, I am sure I will make it through this voyage and it’s challenges just the same.
And that is the point. That is why I signed up for this program and is why I did this and do things like this. It’s the most important thing scouting has taught me. When the voyage is over and you look back, you will realize that you made it despite all of difficulties and hardships you had to endure. What seemed almost impossible is now conquered as you stand at the end of the journey. Even more, the things that stressed you out, made you cry, made you want to give up and leave, all seem insignificant, like natural things that just came with life onboard. As all of these difficulties that were previously such huge obstacles shrink into insignificance, you realize that they really didn’t matter in the end. What then stands out are all of the life-changing experiences from going new places, learning new things, the new friendships you’ve made, and the beauty of the world. You understand that the little things you thought mattered really did not, and you realize what is really important to you like growth, friendships, and the world.
When I return back to Wisconsin and my “regular” life, experiences like these remind me to think about what really matters. Do I really care that a post on social media did poorly, or about having to get up for an 8:30 class three times a week, or about having to clean my bedsheets because it’s been a month since I washed them? While in the moment, the answer might seem like ‘yes’, but voyages like my time on the Corwith Cramer help me realize that they really do not matter in the long run. Problems are just a part of life, and working through them helps you grow as a person, defines who you are, and reveals what truly matters to you. When I look back at my life, the times of the greatest challenge are the times I remember most fondly and are responsible for moments of my greatest personal growth. After we all depart the Cramer, I am sure that the memory of C-284 will be one of my best.
- Andrew Foley, A Watch, Lawrence University
P.S. Thanks to my family, I miss and love you guys. Dad, thanks for pushing me into/through scouting. Mom, thanks for all your support. Alex, thanks for being such a great brother and worthy role model. Good luck to my friends at LU, I hope all of your finals and juries go well. See you Spring Term.