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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer

October 16, 2014

From the Galley and Engine Room

Becky Slattery & Tom Klodenski, Steward & Engineer

The Global Ocean

Cádiz Light- Guiding SSV Corwith Cramer to harbor.

36° 31’ 55.20” N x 6° 17’ 14.40” W

Over the sill, and into the Atlantic

Bex, the Steward here. Food. I am making it and the crew is eating it at alarming rates. I have had the honor and privilege of having student assistants in the Galley with me during this transit helping me slice, boil and bake. On one of the first days with an assistant, Maggie told me that she was happy that I had someone in the Galley with me.  When hearing this I assumed that she was glad that I had help, I was wrong. She told me it was because she could hear me singing the same Taylor Swift song to myself over and over again at 0400 and felt bad about how lonely I must be. I am happy to have them and oh what a great help they have been. My little animals have even started talking to Roxy and Lola (our diesel stove and boiler). It is enough to melt a Steward’s heart.

Dad, I am sad to report that we have not caught a proper fish yet. I am pleased to report that we have seen some spectacular Lighthouses. Here is Tom to tell you all about it and fill you in on other Engineering things you may enjoy:

Thanks, Bex!
Tom the engineer here, hello family and friends at home! It’s been a tremendous few weeks aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, with good cheer, quality meals prepared by Bex, three fully functioning toilets, two functioning showers, two functioning water makers, and two mysteries. Mystery #1: the laboratory sink. There appears to be a blockage somewhere in the drain pipe running athwartships in the main saloon. After a full disassembly of all above deck plumbing, no obstructions can be found. The drain also chooses to work occasionally for a 24 hour period before quitting again without reason, raising this from low level problem to intriguing conundrum status. Due to the proximity to the waterline when the ship is heeling of the blocked pipe in question, we’ll wait to open her up ‘till we’re alongside in calm and sunny Cádiz. Fortunately we’ve got a workaround exterior drain hose keeping the lab fully functional.

Mystery #2, the cantankerous water heater. Now this boiler is so spunky she’s got her own name, Lola. She’s an SEA special—a modified Hurricane® Water Heater, manufactured somewhere (I’’ve been told) in Canada. Picture your favorite compact sedan, and toss a Chevy big block in there and that’s a rough look at what we’re dealing with. Now this diesel fired beauty (and I call her a beauty ‘cause she might be hearin’ ‘bout this blog, you never know) needs three things to live: fuel, air, and a spark. She’s got all three, but sometimes too much air, sometimes not enough, and so she has trouble running at times. She’s tough to access way back in her corner of the galley, and so fidgeting for a half hour each day has been the best way to deal with her.  We’’re getting her dialed in though with small plans to make her easier to work on.

Besides these ongoing projects, I’‘ve also had the opportunity to take students around with me during my more predictable maintenance adventures, and they’’ve had a chance to turn wrenches, watch gauges, and get to know just how self-sufficient and capable this ship is.

With these seemingly tedious projects happening, and there’’s many more not mentioned in all departments, why are we, the professional crew, out here? Why are we subjecting ourselves to hours of maintenance that may never end? Sailing and teaching, yes. And for me, over the past few years, it’’s boiled down to one more major thing: Lighthousing. That’’s right, it’’s a real word. Most of my free time is spent looking for, looking at, or climbing around lighthouses. Either from sea or ashore, it’‘s a healthy hobby that started as a joke and has spiraled out of control into a lifelong quest. Recently, several crew (some fellow lighthouse enthusiasts, others merely interested in learning more) joined me on an adventure in Mallorca—traversing a mountain range to the dramatic Cape Formentor to view the light. With a Fresnel lens and an occulting pattern it was no wonder our hearts leaped with joy when the sun dipped below the horizon and the trusty beam swept along the coast. It was also a great adventure, we encountered closed and sometimes dangerous roads, fantastic vistas, good food, a superb sunset, and a swim call.

Back aboard and underway from Palma, we put the hammer down and got the ol’ Main Engine (500 horsepower Cummins diesel) fired up for days and days of motoring into relentless wind and current generated by the active Atlantic. Naturally, this was a disappointment to everyone aboard until we neared the Strait of Gibraltar. Here we saw several northernmost Moroccan lights from a distance, as well as the English designed Gibraltar light up close, followed by Tarifa light, the southernmost in continental Europe. Our reduced speed allowed all to savor the sight of these historic structures. To see such benevolent beacons up close, guarding the craggy southern Spanish coastline, was a highlight for me and other lighthouse enthusiasts aboard. With interest piqued, everyone on board is looking forward to the finale of our unofficial International Intercontinental Lighthouse Tour (it’s really called the Global Oceans Program), the Cadiz Light.

Before relating the story of Cadiz Light, please understand that lighthouses, although often standalone structures, are by no means removed from their surroundings, historically or culturally. In fact, lighthouses can often be one of the best lenses to view a place’s people and history. The city of Cadiz, a city of importance from antiquity to present day, once had a stone light structure on a seaward fortified island. Now, across the bay, sits a major American naval base, a capitulation from the Spanish American War. What do these two have in common? During that conflict, the original lighthouse was torn down by the Spanish army to hinder the aiming of cannons should the Americans bombard the city. This bombardment fortunately never came, and a new lighthouse, constructed shortly after the war’s conclusion in the same location, is of noteworthy design. An iron riveted structure with an exoskeleton, this lighthouse (according to a local source) was designed to be disassembled should the need arise to once again protect Cadiz. With the current presence of the American fleet in sight of the light, a healthy dose of juxtaposition reminds us of the progression of time in our always dynamic world.

Finally and unfortunately, I must depart the ship in Cadiz bound on my own course homeward but will be replaced by the ever capable Chief Engineer John Michael “Mickey” Cavacas. I hope he has the opportunity to share some words with you sometime soon. As I make my way onward on life’s journey, I thank all whom I have sailed with over the past few weeks and wish them fair winds and bright horizons. Onward and upward, and don’t forget to check out the lighthouses in Madeira and the Canaries!


P.S.  Happy Birthday to my beloved father! I love you big time, Dab, and wish I could be with you. –Sophia Sokolowski

Categories: Corwith Cramer,The Global Ocean: Europe, • Topics: c255  port stops  spain • (0) Comments
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