SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
October 15, 2014
Rock of Gibraltar
35° 58’N x 5° 48‘W
This blog entry comes to you from the Eastern Atlantic! The SSV Corwith Cramer made the highly anticipated passage through the Strait of Gibraltar today. Though it was hard to say goodbye to the Western Mediterranean we are very excited to become well acquainted with new waters.
B watch was awakened at 0600 for first breakfast. One by one we made our way to the deck to check out the weather before getting dressed for the day. What we saw as we emerged on deck was a breathtaking night sky with the distant lights of Africa on the horizon to one side, and Europe on the other. We were hove to, awaiting daylight to enter the Strait of Gibraltar. During breakfast Caption Elliot remarked that we were probably the only boat near the Strait that is enjoying pancakes with real maple syrup for breakfast.
Morning watch began with glassy seas and peacefully cloudy skies. We calculated the time of the sunrise using the nautical almanac, and awaited 0712 with baited breath. The sun came, streaking orange and red tendrils through the clouds and water alike. We all agreed it was a scene straight from The Lion King. By that time we were underway, making about five knots. Then, by some streak of sweet serendipity a pod of over a dozen dolphins made their way to the bow of the Cramer. They stayed with us for almost half an hour, leaping and twirling in perfect unison, guiding us to the Strait of Gibraltar.
After marveling at the charismatic megafauna it was back to the world of boat checks, engine room checks, weather observations and plotting our location. A routine we have become very accustomed to, we take pride in our accuracy and timeliness. In the area of the Strait there is too much ship traffic to stop and deploy science equipment so we even had some time today to quiz each other on lines while under way.
Bow watch was a nail biter, the Strait is busy with bulk cargo carriers, container ships and ferries. We usually keep a distance of at least three nautical miles between us and all other vessels but when crossing such popular shipping lanes that was not an option. Captain Elliot was on the quarterdeck all morning conferring with his mates to ensure our safe passage.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what it feels like to be at the helm of a tall ship making its way through the Strait of Gibraltar. When it was my turn at the helm, watch officer Willy and I discussed what it must have been like to sail that very same route at the time of the Battle of Trafalgar and what historically significant treasures we could be sailing over. We then happened to pass through a large group of migrating dolphins, on our starboard side upwards of thirty dolphins of all sizes leapt over the waves creating quite a spectacle for us.
Even the most mighty of explorers need to stop for lunch. We all enjoyed a scrumptious meal of butternut squash soup and quinoa before assembling on the quarterdeck for daily class. We had a few groups present a creature feature, how to calculate sunset, and even the importance of checking the exhaust temperature in the engine room. Class was interrupted though by a flock of migrating flamingos! The large pink birds in a low flying V formation were spotted a mile off the stern, and class was halted as we all stood and watched the graceful giants pass us.
Lucky for us sun-kissed skin and windblown hair are high fashion these days. Sitting around our gimbaled tables for dinner, it is clear by our faces that everyone spent the better half of their day on deck enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. What an experience it was to play a part in bringing the Cramer from the Med through the Strait of Gibraltar to the Atlantic. The first time for all of us aboard, and also the first time for our ship. Exciting new possibilities, data, and adventure await us on the eastern side of the Strait.
P.S. I want to wish a very happy birthday to Poppy! Love, Peanut!