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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer

March 10, 2019

A New Phase Begins

Allison Taylor, Chief Mate


Dolphins join us this morning as we sail along.

Current Location
18° 52.1’ N x 077° 17.9’ W

Ship’s Heading & Speed
260PSC, 4 kts

Wind ESE at 15 kts, Sea E’ly 4ft, mostly clear skies

Souls on board

We started a new phase in our watch-standing, having departed Port Antonio, Jamaica a little over twenty-four hours ago.  Now we begin what is called the shadow phase on board, in which a student is selected from the deck team to “shadow” the mate during the entire watch, listening closely to all of the information, as well as calling the set and strike of sails and other maneuvers (with some guidance). We switched the watches as well, so it is a big change on two fronts. 

I have stood two watches now with shadows, Mark and Allison G., and they have both done very well!  It is one of the more tiring phases for me because I spend the entire watch telling the shadow exactly what I’m thinking about, while also using leading questions to get the student to make connections between things they already know and put them into action (like calling a gybe, or getting the boat underway from being hove to), either on their own or with the help of their watch mates.

This morning was particularly full and exciting as we conducted another one of our science super stations for a couple hours.  After a lackluster sunrise (mostly cloudy skies), we were accompanied by a dozen dolphins or more that were making our 5-6 knots look like we weren’t moving at all.  These dolphins were very active, frequently launching their entire bodies out of the water while racing along.  The watch that had just been stood down (A Watch) came up on deck to join most of C Watch on the bow to watch them ride our wake (I took the helm so they could enjoy the view for a bit).

We were sailing on a broad reach under the stays’ls and trys’l on a starboard tack so we didn’t have to do too much to get us hove to on a port tack for science besides sheet in the stays’ls.  While we were hove to we deployed the Secchi disk (Mariana won the guess for the depth of last sight at 27 meters!) and the CTD down on 1000 meters of wire.  I was watching the sky the entire time and counseling the shadow on watching the wind and the clouds and the radar.  It was blowing a force 5 (20 knots) steadily up until that point, and during the course of the morning the squall cells that I had been watching to the south of us grew into an impressive dark mass.  Luckily it stayed well away from us, even during the Neuston Tow (not so much Sargassum in this area), but we were quick to put her back on a starboard tack away from all the rain and likely more wind (it had been gusting to 25 knots while we were hove to).

The wind decreased as we sailed away from the clouds (to 15 knots) so we changed our sail plan, the setting of the tops’l to give us a little more speed.  We had been cruising along earlier when the dolphins came to play but we were down below 4 knots at that point.  C Watch, with Emily B close behind the third mate, set more sail after they relieved us to keep us moving along at a decent speed.  Yah for sailing!

Dad, I hope you had a great birthday!

- Allison Taylor, Chief Mate

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