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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

November 23, 2016

Shadow Phase

Sabrina Hutchinson, B Watch, Sailing Intern, SEA Alumna (S-253 and C-259)

Oceans & Climate

Hannah and Teddy of B Watch, in their power stance, hauling on the forestays'l traveler outhaul and jib sheet.

Ship's Log

Current Position
21° 04.5’ N x 028° 39.6’ W

Ship’s Heading & Speed
288° True at 5.7 knots

Sail Plan
Motoring under the mainstays’l

Squalls and Lightning Storms

Souls on Board

It’s hard to believe that this group of students joined the ship less than two weeks ago. They’ve come such a long way in a short amount of time: They have all successfully learned the lines on Cramer, from the much-used main halyard to less commonly used fisherman peak jigger. They have all driven and/or called a scientific deployment, processed a net tow, and plotted sun lines on our navigational charts using angles shot on a sextant.

It’s my first time joining SEA Semester as a Sailing Intern, and the perspective is breathtaking. I remember so clearly what these students are going through: the stress of learning all of those lines, standing watch at all hours of the day, trying to figure out when I eat meals, brush my teeth, and take a shower, all on top of getting my assignments done. I vividly remember early morning watches in lab or on the bow at lookout, wondering why on earth I signed up for this semester abroad of seemingly never-ending work in sweltering heat and torrential downpours, of cleaning the entire ship every morning, and of sleeping at completely random times of day. And then the sun rises and a pod of dolphins comes to hang around our bowsprit. The rain passes and the sky clears, and my Watch comes together at the end of six hours of hard work, sweaty, tired, hands calloused, but smiles all around, proud of all of that we just accomplished. We look forward to a hot meal and our cozy bunks, and all those questions of why I chose SEA blow away in the morning’s breeze. I came to SEA to grow as a person, to push myself to personal limits and beyond, and to take part in a unique experience that cannot be duplicated elsewhere. It is these exact reasons that brought me back to SEA as a Sailing Intern. Now, I not only get to re-experience the same emotions as I did on my student trips, but I also get to witness the progression and transformations of these students, and it is awesome to watch.

Today marks the first day of Phase II, or the ‘Shadow Phase’ of our program. For the past twelve days, students have been in Phase I, learning the lines, boxing the compass, learning how to properly check the boat for early signs of trouble every hour, how to navigate by the sun and stars, and how to deploy and process scientific gear and data. Now, the mates and scientists begin to pass more responsibility to the students. Rather than just telling or reminding the students what needs to get done, the students will become responsible for remembering everything that needs to happen during their watch. For now, each student will stand at least one watch as a ‘shadow’ to both their mate and scientist.

They will literally follow their watch leaders around, picking their brains for how to trim the sails properly, how to set up the carousel for a hydrocast deployment, and to help remember to complete a boat check, weather observations, and plot a position on our chart every hour (just to name just a few things watch leaders are responsible for). By the end of this phase, the students will be calling the setting and striking of sails, of gybing (turning) and becoming hove-to (‘parking’) the boat to prepare for a science deployment. They will also become responsible for recording every pertinent piece of information in our logbook, all while monitoring weather and ship traffic. It may be overwhelming at first, but all of these students will thrive as shadows, especially as they  work together to help each other remember everything it takes to keep our ship running safely and smoothly.

As a Sailing Intern, I cannot wait to see how individual members of this diverse group of students rise up and demonstrate different leadership tactics. This is one of the aspects of the trip that I have been most excited to witness: the transformation from student to Junior Watch Officer (JWO, Phase III). During Phase II, it is my time to grow as a leader as well: to help teach the current students how to be the best JWO they can be by encouraging them to take a step back and look at the big picture of sailing a tall ship. Before I know it, these students are going to be running the deck as if they were born to do it. The fact that most of them had never been on a boat before in their lives won’t matter – they will rise to the occasion and bring Cramer across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. I only hope that the trip doesn’t end too quickly, and that we can all take in the incredible experience we’re sharing out here on the high seas.

Hoping for clear skies and smooth sailing,

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Oceans & Climate, • Topics: c270  life at sea  leadership • (1) Comments
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Leave a public comment for students and crew to read when they reach their next port and have access to the internet!

#1. Posted by Jim Bowen on November 28, 2016

Thanks for a great perspective from someone who has been there before!  :-D



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