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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

December 15, 2019

Murky Waters, Goat Cheese Salad, and Small Boat Tinkering

Francesca Whitecross, Middlebury College ’23.5


Above: Sabrina laughing with PFD-covered Rikki; Below: From left to right, Francesca (me!!!), Dan, Julian, and Matt with our last Montserrat sunset.

Ship's Log

16º 47.9’ N, 62º 12.8’ W

Speed/Sail Plan/Heading
At anchor in Little Bay, Montserrat

28˚C, cloudy skies, F4 winds from the East

2 ft. seas

Souls on board

Hello and welcome to my second blog post! Today was quite busy. It started off with a 0300-0430 anchor watch with Dan. While we were both pretty exhausted and a bit grumpy, we enjoyed looking at the stars and chatted as the wind howled next to us. Then we had breakfast, featuring one of my favorite cereals (honey smacks), plenty of yogurt, and freshly cut mango.

The wind was blowing and we all were aware that our rescheduled reef survey wouldn’t be a simple swim. Heather explained to us that this survey was rather tentative, as the current and winds were very strong and that the visibility was poor. I was excited nonetheless; it was one of my last opportunities to see a shark, so I was really hoping to spot one. I was on the environmental and invertebrate data team with Valeriia. We learnt an important lesson: no matter how many back-up plans you have, field research can still be unpredictable and end up not working out at all.

After a bumpy ride to Little Bay, we hopped into the cold water. Unfortunately, the transect tape decided to not work, so we had no transect! This was going to be a very experimental reef survey.

After collecting all of the environmental data (and swallowing a bit of very salty sea water while we attempted to communicate with each other), Valeriia and I swam over to start collecting the invertebrate data. This included counting sponges, sea urchins, sea eggs, sea cucumbers, squid, and more. Since there was no transect, we played the “lets guess where the transact would have been and follow the imaginary line down the reef” game. The visibility was pretty poor as not only was it dark, cloudy, and stormy, the water itself was very full of sediments, nutrients, plastic trash, and pieces of sea grass, which made looking down to identify whether a shapeless bump was an encrusting sponge or a coral pretty difficult.

Back at the Cramer, Rikki and I worked on Total Alkalinity (TA) together and chatted about her experience at Colgate. We were still at anchor, so we were allowed to listen to some soft music as we worked in the lab, which put us all in good moods. Today, we had DJ Julian playing some old rock, which seemed perfectly fitting for the mellow and sometimes tedious, but very important work we were doing.

Once the data was processed, it was lunch time. Izzy and Cody made an amazing goat cheese salad with roasted walnuts, fresh Montserrat lettuce, sliced green apples, onion, and raisins, accompanied by some much needed comfort food: mac and cheese! All this delicious food put everyone in high spirits.

We were to leave Montserrat early this afternoon, so we were back to normal watch schedules with A Watch in the afternoon. I spent the first two hours with Rikki in the galley and we listened to music as we washed the many cheesy dishes, pots, and pans. Soon, Cody and Izzy joined us and started kneading dough for tomorrow’s breakfast, making the whole galley smell like flour.

After some intense cleaning, I was on deck helping bring in the station wagon (a boat, not a car) and the small boat so we get underway. First we brought in the station wagon and removed its anchor, which Andrea helped loosen for us, requiring all of A Watch and Matt to haul in. After that we started to break it down, which involved removing any equipment inside and removing the air. It was a “deflating experience,” as Captain Greg put it, getting a few chuckles from the group. Good thing it was snack time and smoothies were the perfect thing to have after all the sweat being poured. Rikki was joking around and decided to put on all the PFDs (which had been drying on deck), and attempted to roll on deck. That was probably the highlight of my day, as it brought a moment of light humor and entertainment to a very busy and tiring day that I was barely half-way through.

The last hour of watch I spent on lookout. Montserrat was disappearing behind the horizon and, with it, the sulfurous smells. 1700-1800, in my opinion, is one of the best times to be on lookout because the sun vanishes, leaving behind subtle hues of pink and orange while it eventually becomes more and more dark, sometimes appearing grey, other times blue or even purple. That night, it was a lovely bluish-grey, with bright streaks of pink. The night sky itself was pretty clear, allowing me to thoroughly enjoy the view in front of me as I kept an eye out for boats and other hazards. I have been trying to learn and recognize more constellations, but I am embarrassed to admit that the only constellation I’m confident about is Orion’s belt and his sword. So, I’ve been struggling a bit, but I still have some time to keep trying!

Finally, it was dinnertime. I was beyond exhausted and hungry: in other words, very ready to hop in my bunk and call it day. It had been a very full day, kind of hectic at times and, even though I didn’t get to see a shark, there are plenty of fun memories to look back on. Tomorrow, Antigua!

- Francesca Whitecross, Middlebury College ’23.5

P.S. To my family: hello!!! See you guys in a week! To my friends: don’t be missing me too much wink

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Caribbean Reef Expedition, • Topics: c289  study abroad • (0) Comments
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