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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

March 06, 2017

Tales of Gales

Molly Pollak, B Watch, Barnard College

Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean

Our professor Craig enjoying a bumpy ride in the Dominican Republic. Little did he know the roller coaster that awaited him on the boat.

Ship's Log

Current Location
37.2 Nautical Miles Northwest of Navassa Island

Ship’s Heading & Speed
headed 220 degrees per steering compass traveling 7 kts

Sail Plan
sailing on a port tack under the main stays’l

force 8 winds, warm and sunny

Souls on Board

Today was our second full day of gale force winds, with rolls as steep as forty-two degrees (that's almost half of a right angle!).  Below decks it was sometimes chaotic - clattering pots and pans from the galley, snacks and cups flying off of tables, etc. - but manageable. I finally understand why every object has a specific and secure place because things aboard were nicely stowed and barely shifted with the steep rolls. On deck the ocean was mesmerizing. Clipped into the jacklines one could walk forward to the bow and aft to the stern and see nothing but waves. I heard someone say they were like mountains that grew and crumbled in an ongoing cycle that matched (created) the rolling of our boat. Twice when I wasn't on watch I tried to bring my book on deck, and both times, though I stayed on deck for an hour or more, I didn't read a page.

While on watch, it was hard to accomplish much. I spent last night working in the lab, and we were able to complete and process a surface station (collecting water samples to test for phosphorous, silicate, and chlorophyll concentrations in the water). Not much else was possible, because wave height and wind speeds would have made it difficult to deploy the necessary equipment. It was much the same during my afternoon watch on deck. There was little sail handling to do as we only had one sail up (the main stays'l) and that was just enough.  What it meant during both watches is that I got to know my watch much better, as we passed the time with questions like "if you could have five liquids come out of your fingers what would they be?" (my answers are seltzer, coffee, good lemonade, my grandmothers salad dressing, and I'm not sure about a fifth - plain water? lentil soup? Only time will tell).

It was so nice to have these hours of banter among the intense weather - it offered us a rare moment of reprieve from tasks which allowed us to get closer to each other (it was both bizarre and reassuring that the most severe wind and sea states we've seen so far allowed for us the most on-watch chilling). We also learned in the afternoon that we would be sailing to Port Morant in Jamaica rather than Port Antonio, as was originally planned, in order to avoid maneuvering the ship in ways that would be difficult given the wind and sea conditions. This news was well-received, because it means that tonight we will anchor and get a chance to sleep in tomorrow morning - something we all are very much looking forward to, along, obviously, with our port stop visit to Jamaica.

Your Friend,

To Libby: I thought I signed up for March 21, but it turns out I signed up for the 21 day of our trip, so I'll say it now even though I'm about two weeks early - happy happy birthday I love you very much.


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 Libby on March 10, 2017

And love to you, Molly, dear… and so many thanks for your birthday wishes and more.
(thinking… if I"d known about the height of these waves, ahead of time…. hmmm…!!)



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