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
May 19, 2019
The Best 6-Hour Watch
41°36.44’N x 69°23.58°W
Course & Speed
340°, 4.3 knots
Main sail (deep reefed), Forestays’l, Mainstays’l, Jib
Windy, cold, sun was out but disappeared
I will admit that when I heard we were to sail on the Corwith Cramer from NYC to Woods Hole at the beginning of our summer break, I was expecting blue skies, warm sun, and essentially beach weather. Yes, I packed a bathing suit. I was also expecting to see plenty of fish, whales, and other organisms that aren’t microscopic zooplankton. I was wrong about both of those expectations. I have mastered the art of what I call “bundle as many layers as can possibly fit underneath your coat.” This consists of a marshmallow-like puffy coat on top of a sweatshirt that I stole from my dad (sorry dad) on top of a Patagonia jacket that I stole from my mom (sorry mom—it’s the turtle-themed one) on top of an oversized t-shirt. As for the animal sightings, it has been limited to the occasional flock of seagulls, or a white cap from afar – mistaken for an emerging whale. However, this doesn’t mean that we are subject to perpetually gloomy skies and an absence of aquatic organisms.
I had afternoon watch yesterday from 1300 to 1900 and visualized myself curled up in my sleeping bag for a full, unheard of 11 hours in preparation for my next watch at 0700 the following morning. I woke up abruptly a couple times due to nightmares (why are dreams so vivid on this boat? To be investigated) and I was convinced that I would beat my impending wakeup call and save myself from the disappointment of hearing my name whispered progressively louder. This morning, I was successful. After the first soft “Alique,” I parted my curtains and stuck out a thumbs up to assert that I was already awake: win. My cheerfulness was fleeting. Gabrielle communicated the current weather update: “Super nice. Sunny…but freezing.” After breakfast and a bowl of astounding granola, I braced myself underneath my quadruple-layered outfit as I hoisted myself up the steep ladder onto the quarterdeck. Expecting Colgate-like temperatures, I was pleasantly surprised by my overheating. I did what I thought I would never do on this trip: I removed a single layer. There I was, frolicking about the boat, with only three layers and no hat. The sun was bright, temperatures were not rock bottom, and the wind was almost calm. The water resembled glass and reflected the minimal clouds. I was on deck rather than in the lab, and I was content. I took over the helm with grace, stood on lookout with purpose, and conducted multiple boat checks with pep in my step. This was, by far, the best 6-hour watch of my life.
It got better. I was in the main salon, examining the clean kitchenware previously coated with hardened sausage grease (yum), satisfied with my prime dishwashing skills. I was also thinking about the pumpkin muffin sitting on the hutch, so lonely, calling my name. These thoughts were interrupted by Audrey attempting to wake up Giovanni a few feet away. I stared in confusion, until I heard the magic word: “Dolphins!” That was it. I dropped my harness and booked it. I double-stepped up the ladder and swung open the lab door, racing onto deck.* I followed my cohort of fellow C-watchers leaning over the side, my gaze following multiple pointed fingers. I screamed as I witnessed at least three dolphins poke their fins out of the water, leaping across in synchronicity. One approached the boat and twirled around just beneath the surface and directly under where we were standing, allowing for a close-up view. We kept running back and forth across the deck, following the dolphins. They were so close; if my arms were long enough, I could have reached down and touched them. They were adorable and completely worth waking up at 0600.
*These are examples of safety hazards. In this situation, I should have kept my harness on, because if anyone would end up as man overboard, it’s me. I also should have avoided swinging open the door. These doors are heavy, and could potentially slam into someone. I can assure you that I normally open them with caution.
I can confidently say that being on this boat has been a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience from which I have learned a lot about the ocean, its biodiversity, the weather, and sailing. As someone who is passionate about and studying the environment as a potential career interest, living right on the ocean has allowed me to experience and witness what it is I’m advocating for. Please minimize your plastic consumption!
- Alique Fisher, C Watch, Colgate University