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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

February 27, 2019

Windy Whale Watching (try saying that 5 times fast…)

Alle Brown-Law, C Watch, Carleton College


Above: Mariana, Asia, Delphine, and Alle spot whales off the quarter deck. Below: Ava (Sailing Intern), MJ (TA), Jacob, and Allison (First Mate) enjoy a sunset on the water; Whale fluke! The cause of many shouts today.

Ship's Log

Current Location
20° 26.4’ N x 070° 17.1’ W, leaving Silver Band, heading towards Great Inagua

Ship’s Heading & Speed
260° at a speed of 5.5 knots

High winds and sunny today; “sporty” conditions

Souls on board

Hello faithful followers of the C-284 blog! I am writing this blog entry in the Cramers library, while we roll the characteristic side-to-side motion of a downwind sail. Today was full of whales and waves as we sailed around the edges of Silver Bank, the marine preserve known for its humpback whales. Everyone on board had an eye on the horizon – looking for blows, surfacing, or dives. You knew a whale had been spotted when a happy cry sounded from somewhere on deck – “Whale!” – and then students and staff alike would rush to the side and watch together. As part of a project unique to our program, we have been sailing with a NOAA scientist who works with whale songs and calls, and today we deployed the hydrophone multiple times to record the noises of whales deep below our hull.

Deploying the hydrophone has been exciting each time – hearing the sounds of the ocean is never boring. Today, however, you could hear lots of whale calls. Sarah, our visiting scientist, asks that the people listening replicate the noises they hear so everyone onboard can enjoy the whale songs. So just imagine, for a moment, us on the quarter deck of the Cramer, bobbing along in a hove to position for science deployment (as close as we come to parking the boat), crouched around a speaker and making strange but beautiful whale noises. It was quite the afternoon.

Sometimes the whales sound like cats meowing or doors creaking, and other times sound like baritones or tubas. I think Dory’s whale call in Finding Nemo led me a bit astray in what I thought a whale sounded like. Thank goodness for hydrophone recordings so I can now accurately (and enthusiastically) sing like a whale!

We have now changed our course and are sailing towards the Bahamas for our next port stop, Great Inagua. Now that we have been sailing for a few days since the Dominican Republic, we are all settling back into new watch schedules and life at sea. There really are few words to describe sailing at all hours of the day, sleeping through breakfast after a sunrise watch, and trying to take a shower while the boat sways back and forth continuously.

Although I am somewhat sleepy at weird hours, the feeling of furling a heads’l in the pouring rain, out on the headrig (the net at the very front of the Cramer), with friends on either side, in the middle of the night, is like nothing I have ever felt before. Yahoo!

Here’s to steady winds and good stars on night watch,

P.S.: Hello and lots of love to the people on shore. To the Des Moines crew: Happy Birthday Ted and Peter!! 9 years old! I wish I could celebrate with you. I love and miss you all. To the Scotland crew: I feel so close to Grandad out here – a few days ago we flew the Scottish flag and I thought of him. Love to all! To the Northfield crew: I love you and miss you. Eat some Chapati naan in my honor. Happy Birthday to Joe Sheehan! Have a fantastic day, an even better year, and congratulations on turning 5 and 3/4.

Previous entry: The End of an Era    Next entry: Oh Whale


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 David Law on February 28, 2019

What a fantastic voyage!  Yahoo indeed. All the Laws send their love.

#2. Posted by Michelle Gaydeski on March 01, 2019

I’ll eat some Chapati naan in your honor, as well! We are getting another measurable snowfall today, so when you and Allison get back to Northfield,  prepare for 5ft + snowbanks!  When I lived in Boston, we would go whale watching on fishing boats and the Humpbacks would come right up to us, so close we could smell their fishy breath!
Thank you for your lovely blog about life aboard Mama Cramer!
——Allison G’s mom, Michelle

#3. Posted by Tilda Brown Swanson on March 02, 2019

Rock on, Alle!
Hope you keep on sighting and singing with those whales, other inspiring sea life and your intrepid fellow sailors.
Thanks for your birthday log.



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