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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 16, 2017

Sampling on Saba Bank

Jeffrey M. Schell, Chief Scientist

Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean

Student crew Maddie deploying the secchi disc with Assistant Scientist Gabo lending support.

Ship's Log

017° 46’ N x 063° 22’ W

Current Location
Just northwest of Saba Island

Ship’s Heading & Speed
Steering 045 PSC, 3.2 knots

Winds SExE, Force 3, Seas 2 feet

Sail Plan
Sailing on a starboard tack with the four lowers and jib topsail. 

Souls on Board

Sunrise at sea.  A patchwork of cumulous clouds drape across the sky, infused with early morning color.  Off in the distance, land, a new island for us, from the chart I learn it is Saba Island – part of the Dutch Antilles. 

Long, deep swells gently roll in from the north reminding us, ever so subtly, that the sea sometimes can be angry and may one day be so for us. For now however, we can be thankful for the comfortable seas. 

Voices drift in from about the ship.  The voices of the Watch at work, relief of the helm exchanging course ordered and steered, boat check complete, recording of weather in the deck logbook; while those students assigned to the lab discuss their plans for scientific deployments – sounds like shipek grabs on Saba Bank and our first hydrophone deployment to listen for whales! 

For now the students are learning the routines and listening.  Their hands are at the helm and they are hauling lines and driving the hydrowinch to lower our scientific equipment into the ocean depths.  But for now the students are following the lead of their mate and assistant scientist; and they are doing a fine job of it.  Attentive, eager and curious, all good signs suggesting that in a few short weeks our new crew members will be stepping up to lead their Watch. 

Our first morning science station was a success thanks to the work of C Watch.  Cooper deployed a shipek grab and recovered a bucketful of the seafloor full of burrowing worms and beautiful shells.  Maddie deployed the secchi disc, which we could no longer see at 22m deep helping us calculate water clarity.  And James deployed our CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth profiler) that was also equipped with a dissolved oxygen sensor; all of which are important variables that describe the ocean climate at that location.  We had additional help from Michaela S. when the lab turned to and started listening for whales and looking for any that may be swimming by.  Though we had no visual sightings on the sea surface our hydrophone did pick up faint whale calls that were confirmed by Dr Heather Heenehan our visiting whale expert from Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, MA.   All of this happened before lunch! 

The afternoon was no less exciting for A Watch who kept us sailing through the afternoon and gybed the ship several times so we could deploy our neuston net to collect fish larvae and marine debris. 

After a busy day the ship’s crew was treated to a rare swim call and many welcomed the chance to rinse off the sweat of a long day’s work.  This was followed by a great meal of pesto pasta, chicken and brussel sprouts. Thanks to Lukas who helped out in the galley all day. 

For those on land this would mark the end of a great day, time for bed.  And for some of us onboard the Cramer that is true.  But for B Watch, after dinner meant time to take the deck and check into the lab.  There is sailing to be done, science to conduct, and new waters to explore! 

What will we see, what will we learn, what will we discover?  Well, be sure to check in on our blog in the days and weeks to come and you will find out.


PS  Sweet dreams to family and loved ones at home.

Previous entry: Setting Sail for Dominica    Next entry: We Are Here


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