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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
February 22, 2015
Our First Day of Shipboard Science!
18° 20.524’ N x 64° 00’ W
At Anchor on the SW side of St. Thomas, USVI
Hey all you landlubbers out there trying to live vicariously through Cramer class 257’s blog posts, here’s a recap of what we did and where we went for February 22nd –our first full day at sea! The day began with the Cramer under way to the northeast of Puerto Rico as we worked to make our “easting” (movement to the east) towards St. Martin. Unfortunately, nothing ever goes perfectly as planned on the high seas, and the wind was out of the east, making it necessary to tack and try to work the ship against the wind and seas. It was a bumpy ride, and many of the crew (including myself) made donations to Neptune (our lunch), but he accepted our offerings and provided great weather for us as we were “feeding the fish.”
We began the day with 62.1 nautical miles on our log (measuring our distance through the water) and finished at 150.5. We did this motor-sailing under the mains’l, mainstays’l, forestays’l and jib (the “four lowers”), beating close-hauled into the wind. We sailed past Culebra (snake) and Culebrita (little snake) Islands, and then past Sail Rock (which looks like a gaff-rigged schooner from a distance) on our way into the lee (downwind) of St. Thomas. It was here, at 1032, that we did our first deployments for SCIENCE!
The students on watch in lab, along with the second scientist, Nick Dragone, and Chief Scientist, Dr. Jeff Schell, began their work with a Shipek grab. The Shipek is essentially a spring-loaded scoop that is lowered on a wire connected to our hydro winch all the way to the seafloor where, upon impact, it releases the spring and digs into the bottom. They pulled up some rocky/sandy sediment with broken bits of coral (covered in algae), a hermit crab and other organisms.
What followed was the secchi disk, the free CTD and a neuston net tow (I will save the details on this equipment for another blog entry, but I will say that we found some copepods, a crab larvae and small puffer fish along with some sargassum—quite a haul!). All of this scientific sampling was handled competently by Harmony, Corey and Toni—the only “hitch” came when, at the end of a tow, Corey briefly mistook Harmony’s safety tether for the neuston net retrieval line, making an already safely-on-board Harmony even more safely-on-board.
After A watch handed over responsibility for the ship to our shipmates on B watch, a series of squalls and a forecast for continued gusty conditions led Captain Sean to decide that, for the sake of aiding the learning process, we would anchor for the night in Brewers Bay on the SW side of St. Thomas. Coincidentally, we anchored in sight of the college campus where our scientific observer from Anguilla, Randall Richardson, earned his degree. Thus, after a slightly later than usual class, we ended our day in sight of a beach and within earshot of some music while planes were arriving and departing from the nearby airport.
Well, “that’s well” (enough) for now. I am going to “make fast” (tie off) this blog entry so I can join my watch and do some sailing!
“All I need is a tall ship and a star to steer her by”