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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

February 25, 2015

Welcome Aboard, Sarge!

Sam Wooster, B Watch, University of Vermont

Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean

Thomas (student) and Randall (Scientific Observer from Anguilla) deploy the neuston net, while Gar (SEA scientist) keeps a close eye for safety. Now just imagine do this at night!

Ship's Log

Noon position
19° 01.4’ N, 64° 00.8’ W

Approximately 100 nm northeast of the Virgin Islands, with the closest land being Sombrero Island, roughly 70 nm south by east.

Ship speed / heading
6.5 kts on a course of 054 degrees

Taffrail log

Sail Plan
The lower winds also meant that we were able to deploy a sail new to us students, the Fisherman. Although at one point, our afternoon class was interrupted when all hands were needed to quickly strike, the Fish due to a bout of high winds, it was set back about an hour later, and for most of the day the Cramer was sailing with all six fore and aft sails set: the mains’l, the mainstays’l, the jib, the jib tops’l, and the fish. An impressive sight, and exciting for everyone on board.

Marine Mammal and Sargassum Observations
One marine mammal today – a minke whale!! First spotted around 1000, our visitor was just a baby, and spent a few hours swimming around the Cramer as we were hove to, deploying some scientific equipment over the side, sending most of the crew running from rail to rail as he swam around and under the ship. As for our beloved Sargassum seaweed, we have finally collected samples of all three species we’ve been hoping for; S. fluitans, S. other, and today, we retrieved a sample of S. natans. Likely, this is related with our entrance into the North Atlantic, and the southern reaches of the Sargasso Sea.

Souls on Board

Personally, I was able to start the day with a very special moment: welcoming aboard a new shipmate. But before we get to that, we have some background to cover.

Starting with our lovely 2230 wake ups, which are always a bit disorienting (who doesn’t love being woken up on a rocking ship in the middle of the night?), B watch slips out of our bunks, don our harnesses and shoes, and climb up onto deck to begin our mid-watch, which runs the ship from 2300 to 0300. Colin and I are assigned to work in the science lab with our superwoman first scientist Maia, and the three of us relieve the A watch science crew from their post. We begin our duties of taking our hourly scientific observations from the equipment aboard ship, and Colin and I practice our bowlines while we prepare the neuston net for our nightly 0000 (midnight) neuston tow (it’s also worth mentioning that SEA has provided the longest continuous data set for neuston tows available, reaching back forty years). The deck crew handles the sails and tacks the ship in order to slow her down to 2 kts, we lower the boom and drop the net in the water, and I have to say, I don’t think I’ve been this mesmerized for thirty minutes straight before in the way I was while watching the bluegreen
bioluminescence glow in the water as the meter wide net passes through the sea surface. Even the retrieval line, dragging in the water alongside the net is causing an explosion of green lights in the water. Not to mention
that all of this was happening under nearly cloudless skies, with the most stars I’ve ever seen. Pretty neat, being out here at midnight, crossing between the Caribbean and Atlantic.

The big point to all this, though, is to collect all the seaweed and critters floating at or near the surface, collectively known as neuston. When we hauled the net back in, our prized finding was a small Sargassum crab, a little smaller than a quarter, who was promptly escorted into our small onboard aquarium, and aptly given the name Sarge, and who has spent the day keeping company the barnacles we also have in there (turns out barnacles are much more interesting to watch than you might think when they’re underwater). And, as of this afternoon, I’m pleased to say that Sarge has a new friend in the aquarium, Lieutenant, or Lou, another Sargassum crab that Corey pulled out of the sea with a dip net.

After all this excitement, it may be hard to believe that we were able to fall asleep when we’re relieved from our watch at ten before three in the morning, but trust me when I say we are all able to pass right out. The best part being that the schedule allows whoever is on mid-watch to sleep straight until lunch at noon the next day, a nine hour time slot known as the “sleep of kings.” While it sounds rough and is a bit unnatural feeling
at first, standing mid-watch every three days certainly has its perks.

Well, that’s enough for now. I’m hoping to get a few hours’ sleep before getting up at 0515 tomorrow to help our steward Becky in the galley for the day. I’ve got a mean breakfast planned of eggs, peppers, and onions on toast, along with a melon and pineapple medley. Mom and Dad, you might remember that Ackee breakfast we had in Jamaica? Something like that is what I’m going for. Before I go though, I’ve got a few shoutouts to make. First, “Happy birthday Gaia, you are my favorite person – Love, Becky.”

And second, happy birthday to my own dad, which should either be happening or have already passed by the time you read this. On that note, off to bed!

Keep well there on shore,

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Colonization to Conservation in the Caribbean, • Topics: c257  science • (0) Comments
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