Current position of the SSV Corwith Cramer. Click on the vessel to view position history. Use the tools, top right, to change the map style or view data layers. Dates and times use GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).
SEA Currents: SSV Corwith Cramer
March 03, 2017
Whales and Scones
20°43.7’N x 69°52.18’W
Getting underway, leaving Silver Bank
SE, 5 ft
Scatters of Cumulus
The day began at 1 AM with a misunderstanding. A disembodied voice chimed outside the curtain of my bunk cutting through the half-thoughts dreams make. The voice is telling me that it is time to get up, that it is 1AM, it's a little chilly outside, and that my watch begins in thirty minutes. Normally I would say okay or yes or thank you or any sort of acknowledgement and the voice would quiet once more and find its way to the next bunk, the next curtain to hover outside. Ruefully, I would find shorts, a shirt, the safety harness, the water bottle, and whatever else I needed to begin (albeit a very early one) the morning. But this was not a normal day.
"No," I said.
This took the voice by surprise. They insisted I get up, that I had watch.
"I'm the steward's assistant today," I mumbled.
"Oh! Okay, well then get some sleep, and I'm sorry for waking you."
And the voice floated away. Maybe it said something else. I definitely grumbled something spitefully from the lining of my pillow but it is all gone now. I fell back asleep.
The day began at 5:30 AM with another wakeup I was much more willing to listen to. By six I was helping the steward, Jenny, set the table. We were having scones, half with a mocha glaze. The other half was supposed to have a maple glaze, but a lack of powdered sugar had turned that idea into "maple butter", to be served on the side. By seven, I was making chocolate chip cookies to be left out after dinner for the midnight watch. It was the recipe I had been making all summer, the one I knew by heart, that my father used to make us. And like he sometimes had to, I was forced to improvise.
There was only regular flour, and the maple syrup was in fact pancake syrup, but I decided I would make do with what was there. This, I learned today is the incredible magic trick our steward pulls off each meal. A substitution here, a substitution there, oh, we don't have that in stock? That's fine, we'll make this instead. Helping out in the kitchen today made me realize the difference between someone like me, who can cook, and someone like Jenny, who is a cook! I do not mean in the sense that she is a professional chef, but in the sense that when I took over cutting potatoes the cubes soon became, in my mind's eye, little skyscrapers in a bowl. When rolling out the naan dough for dinner, Jenny's became round like the Secchi disk we deploy every morning. Mine looked like salps. I would like to think that I wasn't entirely useless in the galley. I did make olive tapenade, and it was with some pride to have one of the mate's write down "tapenade recipe" for personal use at some later date.
This was how I spent half of my day, in the galley. The other half, the other reason today was not normal, was spent whale watching on the deck. The only definitive whale I had seen before today was the one hung dry in the Natural History Museum in New York, or maybe off the coast of Big Sur, California when my mother, aunt, brother and I pulled off the road to point at the horizon. But today I shouted with others things like "blow!" and "pectoral slap!" and even at one point "breach!" Breach was when I saw, off in the distance, the postcard image of the whale jumping out of the water.
Later in the afternoon was when a mother and her calf surfaced only a few meters from our boat. My friend, Will, talking to me later said "If whales are ever that close to you in your lifetime you have to get a picture because you're going to spend your entire life trying to convince people that whales were that close to you".