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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

October 28, 2015

Swells, Snacks and Sextants

Breanna Wydra, Lawrence University

The Global Ocean: Europe

B watch learning to use sextants despite the passing swells.

Ship's Log

32° 46.6’N x 16° 16.9’W

Eastern North Atlantic, heading toward Madeira

Just swell (HA!)

Souls on Board

Hello again!  It’s currently 2100 here on the Cramer, and I’m hanging out in the library  while we motorsail our way across the Eastern North Atlantic. Today marks our 7th day at sea on the way to Madeira, and
it’s absolutely incredible how quickly this passage has gone. We even saw a glimpse of the island’s hillsides today, which is a testament to how close we really are to setting foot on land once again. This is especially exciting for some of my shipmates who have been a bit shaken up by the massive, long swells that rock the boat day in and day out. They can be up to 15 feet high or so, and are remnants of a nasty weather system that’s raging on far north of us. Everyone is pulling through, however, and it’s actually a wonderful and imposing sight to stand on the quarterdeck and watch as the hills and valleys of the ocean approach the ship. Each swell seems like it will overtake the deck, but none of them ever do. It’s a true reminder of just how expansive and moody the ocean really is. 

Speaking of moody, it’s approaching crunch time here. Essay and research project and journal entry due dates are piling up, so most of us are feeling the stress that comes with that. It’s not getting anyone down, however. Spirits are high on board, as we all keep becoming used to the endless daily routines and responsibilities that we share. Knowing as much as we do really allows us to enjoy life at sea, and it also allows us to spend the time that we once used on pondering over which line really is the jib topsail halyard on new and advanced skills instead. And on eating snacks. We’re certainly not going hungry here, that’s for sure. 

In addition to calculating the maximum amounts of Nutella and peanut butter that one can fit onto a single apple slice, one of the new skills that we’re being introduced to is using a sextant. Sextants are navigation tools that have been around since the late 16th century, and although we don’t rely on them now, they can still be used to trace the positions of the Sun and other stars. We only had time for a brief introduction today, but it was still really neat to use a tool that has been used by other sailors for hundreds of years.

Well, the next time you hear from us we’ll be even closer to Madeira. With the time passing by so quickly here our port stop will be bittersweet, because even though we get to explore a new place it’ll be one step closer to the end of the program. There’s no time to get sentimental yet, though – we’ve got lots of things to do and learn between now and then.

Until then,

PS – Happy, happy birthday to my annoyingly intelligent little sister who isn’t really so little anymore.  But hey - even though you’ve got me beat on height, you’ll never catch up to me in age!  Love to you and all the rest xxx

Categories: Corwith Cramer,The Global Ocean: Europe, • Topics: c262  celestial navigation • (1) Comments


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 Judy Newberry on November 01, 2015

Breanna—Love the blogs!! We are SO enjoying hearing about—and seeing photos— of your excellent adventure.



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