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SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
October 26, 2020
The Gales Blew Through
36° 15.1’ N x 069° 09.4’ W
Ship’s Heading, Speed and Sail plan
270, 5 knots, under the four lowers.
Wet and Windy
As I’m sitting here in the library typing this up, Megan and I can see the waves crashing over the port hole. The waves today have been so intense that they’ve been crashing over the deck, and quite a few unlucky individuals have been soaked, including Raechel, Becca and Ethan. It has been quite a watch. It started out just rainy and overcast. By the time we came up top after finishing chores it was pouring. I remember after getting my sleeves filled with water emptying these things called niskin bottles before we did our hydrocast (Which is essentially a giant box of science equipment we lower over the side of the ship to collect data at various depths). About three hours into our watch, when I could finally take off my foulie top and get a little dry, I remember standing in the companionway feeling the wind from outside but none of the rain, and experiencing a sense of such sublime happiness to be dry and comfortable that I knew my life would be better for having experienced it.
As always, those moments are fleeting, and I barely had time to mention my state of happiness to Logan before I was swept off to bring in the CTD in the pouring rain. Not much later, I found myself on the wire for the hydrocast (essentially the person in charge of pushing or pulling the lever that controls the speed at which the line is let out). I remember getting to my position and realizing that I hadn’t thought things through when I’d decided to be on the wire - the hydrocast was planning to go down to 600 meters, so I’d be sitting there for a while. And then the winds picked up and the boat started to really roll. And I constantly had to slow down the wire to make sure I wasn’t putting too much tension on the line. And I was trying to keep myself from falling over as the boat rocked. And the water was pouring in from my sleeves, and my shoes were soaked through (I had neglected to wear rain boots, because when Colm woke me up it was only lightly drizzling). And then, when the hydrocast was coming back up (going only 10 meters per minute to reduce tension), Emily asked me to step back from the wire because the tension was so high. Describing it, it doesn’t seem that stressful. All I was in charge of was pushing a lever at Emily’s explicit command, and I was facing the same winds everyone else on watch was.
But it was a stress I hadn’t faced yet on the boat yet, and when we came off watch after striking the main (it turns out the winds were gale force), I felt like I was coming off an adrenaline high, and I felt disconnected from the present and from my body. And then when I began to come back down, and began to tell Sam about what my watch had been like, I realized how afraid I had been. It was unlike the feeling of happiness that came from being dry after being in the rain for so long, there was no clarity or gratitude or high, but I’m also glad to have had that experience. I can’t imagine having to go back to a life where there isn’t that sense of true urgency, to a life where I don’t come off watch hungry enough to eat four servings of food, or tired enough to sleep straight through to my next watch. For all the stress and exhaustion of being at sea, I think all of us are finding that this feels completely right.
- Campbell Uyeki, Rice University 2025
PS: I love and miss all of you so much! For all my talk about how right it feels to be at sea, I also think of all of you so much. The other day I was sitting in my bunk in Finn’s Carleton sweatpants and I was hit with a longing to be in Northfield visiting him. And I’ve been telling everyone about my adorable baby brother, and my Mom’s cooking, and how much my Dad would love to see all these birds and animals. Oh and of course my puppies! Happy 9th Birthday Daisy!! I wish I was there to cuddle up with you. And Caroline, I have so much I wish I could tell you about! You’ll be happy to know that I’ve been braiding lots of hair! I love you and miss you so much!! Also, to the parents of Colm Aldwin Murrey Blodget, we are very excited to celebrate his birthday with him. We all find him absolutely adorable, and he is well known for having the strangest (and most vulgar) wakeups on the boat.
Editor's Note: In response to the coronavirus pandemic, all SEA Semester students, faculty, and crew aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer boarded the ship after strictly isolating on our Woods Hole campus for a minimum of two weeks, and after repeated negative tests for COVID-19. To ensure the health and safety of those onboard, the ship will not conduct any port stops and will remain in coastal waters so that any unlikely medical situations may be resolved quickly.