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
June 18, 2015
Place in the World
44° 27.9’ N x 034° 01.1’ W
Description of location
Western North Atlantic
1725.3 nm and counting
Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Sailing under the four lowers and the tops’l; S wind with a Beaufort Force of 4; 5 ft waves coming from S x E
Marine Mammals Observed last 24hrs (estimate of totals)
Sargassum Observed last 24hrs (estimate of totals)
Clear morning at last, after a few rough and sporty days of being tossed by waves and recounting what it means to live at sea—I look at myself, after emerging from the doghouse onto the hard deck, and am once again gripped by the wonder of the high blue seas. No land in sight—everything I learned to grow up and be with all my life is far away now; and now, I find everything to be foreign, unprecedented, and one-of-a-kind. For a guy like me—a South Korean who lived in cities all his life—life out on the open ocean was, and still is, a little unbelievable. I never imagined—ever—that I would end up working as a sailor on a sailboat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I can still recall, almost two weeks before today, that loneliness and melancholy which took me and shook me on my first few days at sea—a condition caused, I think, by the notion that I have lost my place in the world, that everything before me has been subsumed under a vastness, a tremendous, near-inconceivable vastness that is the open ocean. Never in my entire life have I seen anything so vast, and the giant emptiness pricked my sense of insecurity to new heights. The anxiety, I think, was all the more unrelenting because the only home-like environment I had—the Cramer—was also a new experience by itself, not to mention an experience that called for discipline and high-expectations I was not, at the time, ready for. The rotating watch schedule was tiresome—sleeping at odd hours of the day bothered me and made me cranky—and the ways in which lines—halyards, downhauls, sheets, and such—were located throughout the ship was quite unintelligible. Even though I was trying all the while to make some attempt at least to begin to acquaint myself with those things, I could not help but to glimpse a little at the vastness around me and cower, and the feeling would return: I am so small in this world, and have no place in such a world as this.
Truth be told, I realize now that my feeling towards the ocean back then was not one of fear or dread, but something subtle and lighter, and might even be called exciting: something that may be conflated easily with fear and dread, but in essence, nothing could be further removed from it to either fear or dread. It was a feeling of being humbled. The ocean has exactly that effect on you—and this relates to the aforementioned sense of ‘loss of place.’ The effect of the open ocean on the human soul is not sickness, as that of something having the character to displace, and undermine, what has once been cemented—rather, it is one of revelation and discovery, the character of which is that it reveals and exposes what was already there inside the soul, and thereby brings it to the forefront of one’s thoughts.
The insatiable vastness had in me precisely this effect—it conjured out of me something deep, hitherto hidden in the recesses of my being, and a sense of loss and fear were there only because this new sense was so foreign, unprecedented. Well, that is not completely true—I felt this a few times before, but that only in front of the presence of great men I admire, perfect works of art, and a place like my college, where the roots of learning and wisdom stretch deep—but this at least is true: never did I have any idea the ocean will be able to replicate that sense of awe. That being said, I think the sense of awe and the sense of being humbled go hand-in-hand—one feels awe when one is humbled, and vice versa. They are both linked in some way to a sense of wonder towards the world, a scarce commodity nowadays—and I marvel at the effect they had on me these couple of weeks, and most recently, today.
I made mistakes today out on morning watch—hauling on halyards when I was not supposed to, not reporting everything I did to my watch officer, and so forth—and felt bad, to say the least. Then I turned towards the ocean, and its great vastness swooped on me. I realized then, not the inadequacy of my being, but a sense of being incomplete—and then it dawned on me. My issue was not some existential crisis, that is, a sense of being at a loss with the world—but in fact, was not an issue at all. For it consisted in the coming to terms with a truth, and the truth, when thought about, was grand and satisfying: I realized that the world was big and I was not; that I am one person on a boat run by thirty; that I was by no means complete, and still had a lot to learn. In a word, as the sea is open, my soul opened up.
I have always had a tendency to under-judge myself *(to be a hypo-crite, I guess) and was overly lenient towards my shortcomings, all the while being too prideful of what I thought I had in me. I expected beforehand that I had in me all it takes to live on a boat, and that I would shine amongst all the others. I could not have been more wrong. There are people on this boat immensely more talented than I on most things concerning both oceans and life on oceans, not to mention being more disciplined in the matters of daily living. The friends I have here—other students—are truly deserving of respect and I feel a sense of gratitude being around them. This is a great community I am part of—we are all on the same boat, in all senses of that phrase.