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Current position of the SSV Corwith Cramer. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the layer tools, top right, to change the map style or to view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer

February 28, 2016

Salty Tales of the Where Wizard

Will McLean, Chief Mate

Master at work

Ship's Log

Current Position
Near White Island in the Bay of Plenty

5 Kts.


Sail Plan
4 Lowers and Tops’l

Wind WSW Force 4 Clearing sky

Souls on Board

Our recent adventures through the Bay of Islands brought with them a magnetic visit from a master mariner that many on board thought originated in Middle Earth.  Our grey bearded friend paid us a welcome visit to help us adjust the ships magnetic compass. Who was this sorcerer of ships' compasses, how did we find him on his small island in what is called the Bay of Islands, and why do we need the compass adjusted in the first place?

The last part is easy so I will start there.  Before this voyage began the ship spent a month in a ship yard having some routine maintenance done. Part of this maintenance included some welding to the amidships rail and the transom.  We found that the welding and the leading of the welding wires affect the magnetism of the ship and the compass. When we departed Auckland we found that the deviation (the difference between magnetic north and where the magnetic compass points to as north) of our ship's compass was different than it should be. Each ship has its own magnetic field that needs to be taken into account when adjusting its compass to point to magnetic north, so with the changes induced into the magnetic field of the ship during the ship yard, we found that we would need to make some adjustments so that the compass would point accurately.

When one begins to look into compass adjustment it's easy to get confused with the terminology.  From correcting magnets to the flenders bar, back to the quadrantial spheres and going through coefficients A thru J, it is quickly apparent why we would call in an expert to streamline the procedure so that we could continue on our way.

Our expert climbed aboard our ship as almost out of the pages of a sea story. A long time sea captain having commanded square rigged ships like Sorlandet and Soren Larsen, we were happy to have his experience and guidance to get our compass pointing in the right direction.  Captain Jim Cottier calls Motuarohia island his home between his time on ships.  This small island only 1 nm long and less than .5 nm wide is in one of the most beautiful settings on the North Island of New Zealand.  Numerous beautiful sailing vessels glided through the clear azure water around the island while we watched breaking waves crash on to the rocky seaward shore.  We set snug at anchor in the crescent beach lagoon of the island day dreaming of what it might be like to live in such a place. A handsome wooden yawl rode at her mooring off of a fine dock that led to a path with a quaint home nestled amongst the trees. I think most of the crew would have traded places with him if they could. How we found him and scheduled this island rendezvous no one really knows.  I just give the credit to the magic that all captains
possess to make things happen.

As we hauled back the anchor to get the ship underway to swing the compass, our expert prepared the compass and the tools of his trade. You might think that he produced an expensive specialized tool or his IPhone, but what he pulled out was what he called his thousand dollar string.  With ease and precision that can only come with years of experience, Jim worked with our captain Elliot and our helmsman to steer the ship through the points of the compass taking sights of a distant mountain peak once the ship was steady on its new heading. After making some small adjustments to the internal magnets in the binnacle at each heading we were done.  So with a string, flathead screwdriver, and a distant mountain Jim easily put our compass aright leaving our crew amazed, informed, and a little wiser in the process.

- Will

Shout out: Hi Kelly! Have a great trip to Moorea!

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,The Global Ocean: New Zealand, • Topics: s264  life at sea • (0) Comments
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