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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
November 29, 2018
Hove To No Longer
33° 9.042’ S, 177° 26.437’ W, 1128 NM traveled
Course & Speed
Fore and Main Stays’ls, Storm Try’sl
Clear skies, breeze Force 5, seas 4-5 feet
The Seamans has been hove to since 0900 today as we wait out Force 6 breeze from the SW, preventing us from moving on toward Napier. The forecast is indicating a wind shift to a more favorable direction before morning, which is welcome news for all of us on board. 14+ hours spent sideways in hefty breeze and swell takes its toll. For one, if things were blowing slightly differently we’d have some spectacular sailing to do. For another, the confused swells sweeping in and under our beam make for a frenetic, near patternless motion on board that can compound restlessness and upset tummies alike. But playing this waiting game can have its benefits, including the following event I’d like to share from this evening.
C watch had just started evening watch with our bellies full of home-baked calzone, courtesy of our peerless steward Sabrina. Someone came up on deck and said: “I think a bird just pooped through the main salon vent onto a table!”. Now, this would be quite the bit of news in any conditions, but after hours of controlled drifting it got everyone within hearing especially excited. For a seabird to swoop in on Force 5 gusts, thread its payload into the air collector on deck, through a ventilation shaft and grate, and down onto one of our saloon tables, belies Luke Skywalker-level skill and daring. I did not think much of the report at first… but we soon saw a big group of people gathering on the lab top above the salon. Word passed frantically that a bird had indeed relieved itself into the main salon, and that it was no hit and run job either – the culprit was still in the vent and appeared to be stuck!
Quick action by faculty Rich and Kerry and our Chief Engineer Nate, and a disheveled petrel was extracted and carried up on deck. We can’t be sure how long the confused bird was playing superspy in the Seaman’s ducting, but it looked to have been quite some time. Kerry gently placed the bird on the stern wearing gloves and using a purple towel. For many of us, this was a golden opportunity to see a petrel up close. We’ve had individuals from numerous species as our near constant companions since leaving Russell, but they tend to keep their distance and are notoriously tricky to tell apart. I was proud to see a group quickly take an interest in IDing our avian stowaway. Our best collective guess is a Gould’s petrel, a rare species whose range does not extend to these waters east of New Zealand. But with the weather this region has been experiencing over the last few days, one being blown over from the Tasman Sea doesn’t seem too farfetched.
The petrel waddled around the quarterdeck a bit and spread its wings, but stayed put. After maybe ten minutes we decided to move her/him onto the aft railing and into the wind. With a flourish, wings unfurled and caught the sou’westerly breeze we’ve been waiting out and away it went. Hove to no longer.
Dad, I wrote this up for you (as well you know). All my best to everyone at home – J,A,C,S,T^2, P,Z,D,H, and all the rest.
Harry Podolsky, C watch, Sailing Intern