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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. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer

March 02, 2017

More Sleep, More Whales and More Waves

Elizabeth Phillips, A Watch, Whitman College

Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean

Dr. Heather Heneehan (in the blue) and a student listening to underwater acoustics like whales and vessel traffic via the hydrophone.

Ship's Log

Just a few nautical miles south of Silver Bank

Ships Heading
Hove to (stopped)

Sail Plan
Currently drifting, because we sailed a bit too quickly, oops!...waiting to enter Silver Bank. 

Clear skies, very windy, and large waves!

Souls on Board


After leaving Samana, Dominican Republic yesterday, we got underway and began motor sailing, which quickly became sailing (yay!!), towards Silver Bank.  Lots of things are different with this section of our voyage.

First off, we've begun a new watch schedule.  Instead of the Swedish watch system we were on previously (where shifts rotated in two 6 hour watches during the day and three 4 hour watches at night) to the 6/12 schedule.  Under this system, each watch is 6 hours long, followed by a 12 hour break.  And the cycle repeats itself through the night.  I had the first evening watch (1900-0100) last night of this new system, and it went just fine, although the extra 2 hours at night will certainly be a change to get used to.  But the result was that I got a big night's sleep!  And tonight, after having afternoon watch today (1300-1900), my watch gets an "others' night sleep". Finished watch at 1900, ate dinner, and will next be woken up at 0600 for breakfast (so pretty much the average sleep schedule!).  This new system also came with a rotation of watch officers and lab assistants.  So, each watch group of students got new leaders on deck and in the lab which is sad in one way, leaving our first watch officer and scientist, but exciting in another, in that we get to learn more from new people.  All in all, I think it will be a good change.

Next, whales!! We are approaching Silver Bank, which we can enter tomorrow (Friday) at 8am according to our permit.  Silver Bank is a protected humpback breeding ground and hopefully filled with many, many whales to both watch and listen to through our acoustic monitoring.  We have already spotted whales along our cruise track, but this will hopefully provide more viewing enjoyment (if there's a whale, nearly every person who is awake will quickly go on deck to catch a glimpse) and a chance for some of our students to work on their oceanography projects (each student has a special topic, and some have whales).  Additionally, Silver Bank should give our visiting scientist Dr. Heather Heneehan a chance to work with the underwater acoustic devices.  Listening to whales (I've heard a couple so far) is a bit surreal.  So far, we haven't been able to see the whales when we hear them, so it is like listening to this underwater world that is vibrant with life but I have no visual of. Pretty neat! 

And finally, more waves.  Since leaving Samana, the winds have picked up which means a couple of things.  First off, we get to go sailing instead of motorboating, which is (hopefully obviously) great.  And next, it means, along with other environmental factors, a much bigger sea state.  The waves have been reaching 10 to 12 feet (noticeably larger than our usual 4-6 foot waves).  With such an increased sea state, our boat has been pitching (rocking back and forth) much more, so I, at least, have been working on adjusting to this new reality.  I've been working on my balance, not running into things while walking and how to eat when my food moves from my knees to my chest in a matter of seconds (this is because our tables are gimbaled, meaning they are on hinges which enables the table top to stay perpendicular to the gravitational pull while the boat leans side to side).  It has been a bumpy ride but, again, slowly adjusting.

Despite all these changes, all is well here on the Cramer.  We had a fire drill today where I almost won the Oscar for best acting of smoke inhalation.  Until next time!

- Elizabeth

PS: hi fam

Previous entry: Sharing Ocean Knowledge    Next entry: Whales and Scones


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 Peter C. Stone on March 04, 2017

Great description of gimbaled tables, Elizabeth!
Don’t forget to add that to your journal! smile

Along with your Oscar-nominated performance…!




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