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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

April 18, 2015

The Importance of Being Silly

Sam Nadell, A Watch, Cornell University

B Watch teaches everybody "Squeegee - Sponge - Envirox" (similar to Rock - Paper - Scissors) for Field Day motivation.

Ship's Log

Current Position
29° 15.6’ S x 145° 32.9’ W

Course & Speed
035° true at 4.5 knots

Sail Plan
Full stack (course, tops’l and raffee) + the main stays’l


Souls on Board

One of my favorite stories of exploration is that of Ernest Shackleton, who sailed to Antarctica three times in the early 20th century in an attempt to lead the first team to the true South Pole. On his final voyage, Shackleton's ship became stuck in the sea ice, and hope of making it home safe seemed all but lost. But Shackleton knew that survival was possible, and successfully led every single man out of the Antarctic ice alive. To do so, the crew needed to leave their ship on foot and drag a lifeboat behind them. One would think that a smart leader would take only the essentials for such a trek, but Shackleton requested that the ship's banjo be brought along. A banjo is certainly not the most useful thing in times of survival, and our own Arthur Davis can tell you that a banjo is not the easiest piece of equipment to carry over far distances, yet Shackleton found it to be necessary in order to keep morale of the crew up. And those high spirits were what ultimately led to Shackleton's success.

I think that morale can be often overlooked during times of high stress or demand, but as seen in the case of Shackleton, it can be an incredibly significant factor in terms of productivity. My time aboard the Robert C. Seamans has been absolutely amazing, but certainly comes with the various challenges associated with both sailing and scientific research. And after nearly three weeks of seeing just open ocean while working hard on our research projects, it wouldn't be out of the question for morale of the students and crew to dip. Which is why, at least in my mind, it is so important to be silly.

Tomfoolery. Shenanigans. Even a little bit of clowning around. I believe all of these to be vital within any group of people who are attempting to reach a common goal. Silliness can be premeditated or spontaneous; it can be based in reality or develop out of near insanity. But silliness results in higher morale, and can seem to take the weight of the world off of your shoulders, even if for a brief moment.

The Robert C. Seamans is a silly place. I'm so often impressed by how funny everybody is, which comes out most during group activities. I've watched puppet shows about dirt, performances of songs about salps, and Captain dress up as a golden dragon. The creativity and humor put into these and plenty more presentations are so enjoyable to watch and participate in. There's been a lot of laughing aboard this boat, and things just keep getting funnier. Maybe it's just because we're getting a little stir-crazy, but either way it's funny. And that laughter is so valuable for keeping everybody motivated and enthusiastic for the rest of our voyage. So here's to keeping silly, and may the silliness continue for the rest of our trip
(which ends in just two weeks!).

Hello to all of my family back home; to Rachel, who I wish good luck to on your show that is probably happening around this time, and to my parents, who probably aren't performing anything anytime soon but good luck in general I guess (and sorry for using half of my blog post to talk about a historical anecdote). And hello to all of my friends, who I definitely forgot to tell about this blog. A special shout-out to my improv comedy group, who happens to be performing in a show as a write this blog and who I know are crushing it. I miss everybody dearly and I can't wait to see you all soon!

- Sam

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Oceans & Climate, • Topics: s258  sailing • (2) 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 Robin Arzt Nadell on April 28, 2015


It’s so great to read your spirited blog post as well as those of your shipmates. Everyone seems genuinely moved and inspired by the weeks at sea and the time aboard the Robert C. Seamans. We’re so happy you’ve remembered to bring the tomfoolery!

Continue to enjoy and appreciate the experience—I know you will. Hope the next phase of the trip (land) is amazing, too. We look forward to hearing more about your adventures and can’t wait to see you when you return. 

All our love from home!

#2. Posted by Larry Nadell on April 29, 2015


I picture you guys coming into port in Tahiti and reflecting on the last 6 weeks. Did that just happen? Was that real? You’re not the same person that left here back in March, are you? You’ve jumped to another level of existing, haven’t you? Will we recognize you? (Not just talking about the beard here.) How will you ever adjust back to reality? I know… why don’t you stay a week in Tahiti with nothing to do. That should do it!

Can’t explain how impressed I’ve been with you and your shipmates. The blogs have painted us a picture that I swear I can see and touch, but I know it can barely scratch the surface of the actual experience. I’m so looking forward to hearing all about it. We’ll talk in a couple of days. Until then, enjoy the remaining time on board. Love you.




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