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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

February 19, 2016

I’m Swimming In Data!

Martin Green, Carleton College

Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean

Riley examining her bounty of sargassum as the swim call comes to a close

Ship's Log

018° 11.8’ N x 64° 45.7’ W

Description of location
West of the US Virgin Islands

115° psc


1.1 knots

Weather / Wind
Covered skies after a warm rain with a low breeze.

Souls on Board

The day began with a personal lesson in accuracy. While conducting my morning rounds to wake up the next watch so that they can eat breakfast before their shift (which I did do at the right time!), I was telling them the meal was ready twenty minutes earlier than it really was. Upon realizing my mistake, I had to go back below deck to correct my mistake, which brought down simultaneously sleepy and annoyed glares throughout the ship. But hey, now I will never forget that breakfast is always at 0620.

Today is our second day of sailing (through much calmer waters than last time, thankfully) and we are starting to adjust to the low dull of the generator, the sound of the CHRP pinging the depths every second, and the calls of sail handling from on deck. All in all, we are beginning to gain our sea legs and become salty sailors. However, the theme of the morning as we prepared to get underway was on how much more there was to learn: where the mainstays'l halyard was, the commands for easing the squaresail braces, and the sheer number of people needed to lift our largest sail, the main. In the end, with the help of our engine and under the guidance of Captain Chris, we were underway by 0930, with St. John to our stern, bound for Puerto Rico.

After we were safely sailing, the science team completed the first neuston tow of the voyage! They were able to collect a bucketful of sargassum teaming with plankton and other organisms to begin processing data for student and long term research projects. All the students are soon to become very familiar with our beloved net. Speaking of which, tomorrow night is a very special night: Neuston Net Frenzy! All the watches will be practicing (i.e. competing) efficiently setting up and deploying the net after dinner. We might even catch a few bioluminescent myctophids during the training.

The most exciting point of today was after lunch when we had afternoon class because it began with a swim call. We all rushed to put on our bathing suits and jump off the deck or the bowsprit into the ocean with sargassum floating past the ship. This prompted Elliott, the first one in (naturally), to exclaim, "I'm swimming in data!" referring to the plethora of life swimming with us. When it was time to climb aboard again, Jeff requested each person to bring a piece of sargassum up with them, immediately prompting a race to gather as much as possible. It was a wonderful start to class and a fun way to get up close to the floating seaweed. Only at SEA Semester can we start class with a swim in the ocean alongside a 135-foot sailing ship.

Wish me luck for quickly healing sunburns,


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