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
23° 32.8’ N x 080° 37.1’ W
Single-reefed main and the two stays’ls set for Key West
I would like to use this opportunity to thank my parents. I know I am definitely prone letting all the things they do for me go unacknowledged. When I told them that I was thinking about applying for a semester on a boat that sailed around the Caribbean it was easy to hear the reservation in their voices. What type of boat? A sailing type I assured them. Where would it go? A few islands, definitely Cuba and Jamaica. These were the types of questions they asked and the types of answers I gave. Having now been on the boat, having sailed around the Caribbean I am acutely aware that I didn’t really know what I was going into. And still my parents let me go and for that I am grateful.
Because of their support, which they are always so willing to give, I have been lucky enough to experience a walk of life far from any I would have ever expected have the chance to know. Do I think would want to become a mariner? Definitely not. But that is not even a question I would have been asking myself a year ago. While I don’t prescribe to the idea that my life is predetermined, it’s easy to see how people get stuck trending one way or another. High school, college and a major, then a job that seems tangentially related, and then from there the rest unspools into a future so far from where I am right now I can’t even see what it would look like. An apartment? Bills? It has been so incredible to explore all the different places that that future could look like out past the horizons we see every day. It’s not something I always think about.
There are lots of things that I have had time to think about without a hundred screens demanding my attention, without a stable conception of what day of the week it is—how close to Friday is today? What work needs to get done by tomorrow? Oh god, I have to send that email before Tuesday, without some needling itch that right now, somewhere, all the people I know are off enjoying themselves without me. Right now, all the people I know live within a one hundred-thirty foot radius. There are definitely things I do have to now think about. Like, when am I going to sleep? Or, which direction is the wind blowing? Where is that god-awful smell coming from? Is that me? Is it a shower day? But that is alright.
It has been nice to have a different set of questions to be asking daily, to have to sync my brain to a different tempo and keep rhythm with the sway of the boat. It’s given me more time to read. It’s made me realize how unfortunate it is that rote memorization is a fading art, that with a little effort it doesn’t have to be, for me at least. There’s time on watch while poised on the bowsprit to let daydreams ferment and turn into something more tangible, something worth writing down later. Or maybe not. And then you can simply let them fall over the side and be washed away with the current and turn your focus to something new.
I do a shoddy job at memorabilia, and I am afraid that I will not have enough to hand out to the folks when I get home. I am armed with stories. I hope that will suffice. That there will be things that I did not enjoy, that did not meet my expectations, that left me frustrated or wanting to withdraw myself in past a hard shell exterior where I could appear aloof, unperturbed, and unreachable is something I would like to make clear now. It is like sand in the crevices of the coral now drying in the lab, waiting to be packed and taken back home. There is always residue we wish we could fully rinse and scour off, that we could do away with and present instead a museum tchotchke with which to say: “here, look at this piece of coral I picked off a beach in the Bahamas. It’s from my time abroad. Beautiful, no?”
It is rarely like that. Sometimes it seems that what people want to hear from experiences like this only that it was amazing, that it changed your life. And it can be difficult to not meet those expectations. Isn’t it simply easier to say that, yes, it was amazing and leave it at that? Than to hold on to the notion that two opposing ideas can be equally true? I am looking forward to parsing that out for myself, for seeing what stays with me and what drifts by with the wind. I don’t think I will regret coming, for seeing it for myself. I’m in the middle of Over the Edge of the World; a book my aunt said would be the perfect reading material for a trip like this. I’m not very far into it but I don’t think she knew how right she was.
The book is about Magellan circumnavigating the globe. Early on, the author talks about the Greek work Autopsis which I garnered to essentially mean “to see for oneself”. In the context of the book the author was talking about how so much of the Age of Discovery was ruled by superstition and classical accounts of what the world should look like, of Pliny’s descriptions of men with six hands and sea monsters with flaming faces, and how these were taken to be fact. Magellan was set out to see the world, to not take for granted words writ long ago, to rediscover autopsis.
Reading those pages felt more personal to me. I would like to say thank you to my parents (all the parents, really) for letting me see all the incredible things that have made this voyage memorable. Six weeks is a long time to go without communication, and thank you for not expecting any as well. The trip is almost over. It will be wonderful to see everyone again, to share the things I saw with my own eyes.