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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer

December 20, 2020

Adjusting to the Cramer

Caroline O'Connor, C Watch, Columbia University


Above: Grace and I enjoy the afternoon on the elephant table; Below: Me at the helm.

Noon Position
24 36.46’N x 082 47.23’W

Traffail Log
2398 nm

Weather/Wind/Sail Plan
Clear and sunny, some cumulus clouds/Anchored

Description of Location
Dry Tortugas National Park

Marine Animals
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin

Souls on board

Our first morning anchored at the Dry Tortugas has been very busy. We began the day with an oatmeal breakfast and daily chores, as we scrambled to practice our presentations in between doing dishes and cleaning the soles. Once my group finished our last minute run-through, we mustered on deck to give our presentations. After two months of hard work, it was rewarding to finally share our research with our classmates under the temporarily clear blue sky. After all of the groups presented, we spent the afternoon snorkeling to celebrate. Although there's no tree set up for Christmas on the Cramer, I found it fitting that we saw a lot of Christmas tree worms living on the corals.

As the holidays draw nearer and our trip comes to an end, I've enjoyed reflecting on our experience here on the Cramer. There are many aspects of boat life that I struggled with at first that I'll have trouble parting with as we sail back to shore.

In the first few hours underway, I was surprised by how much the swells affected me. I spent hours failing to fall asleep, only to be woken up by a big swell minutes after my first success. In the mornings, I had trouble getting out of bed, knowing that I'd crash into the wall as soon as I dropped from my top bunk. Afterwards, I would slam into the bathroom door, bracing myself on the sink trying to brush my teeth. The Cramer's way of
saying good morning was certainly hard to get used to.

However, as we're anchored here at the Dry Tortugas, I've found it unsettlingly still. I didn't realize that I had grown to love the Cramer's rocking. I love to watch our synchronized swaying as we cram together on the quarterdeck for class, trying to keep our balance and focus on Captain Allison's weather report. I've noticed that the Cramer's motion is not only fun, but it can also be convenient at times. Sometimes on lazy nights, I
like to stand on the lip of Katie's bunk below mine, waiting for the sea to sling me promptly into my bunk. After a long day of watch, the Cramer's slight rocking is a pleasant way to fall asleep.

Getting up for dawn watch also took some getting used to. On one of my first dawn watches, I can't say I had much fun scooping gelatinous organisms from our sample at 3 AM as seasickness still lurked in our stomachs. As I fell backwards, unfortunately getting some Salp on my sweatshirt, I stared into the churning bucket wondering how I was going to stay awake for the next four hours.

I did not expect that after just a few dawn watches, I would grow to love the charming chaos that comes with identifying zooplankton at 5 AM. Although more than a few samples get spilled in our state of late night delirium, the lab always manages to process the samples collected throughout the day. After a long night of doing 100 counts, processing surface stations, and cleaning up spills, we enjoy writing some questionable haikus. Topics range from the state of Grace's hiccups to isopods trying to escape our sample. After turnover, although most of us look like characters from the walking dead, we manage to watch the sunrise with the company of a few dolphins splashing at the bow.

Struggling with these aspects of living on the boat has revealed that we're capable of much more than we think. As Olivia said earlier tonight, "adaptability is the best ability." Looking back to the first few days on the boat, I'm proud of how much we've grown together.

- Caroline O'Connor, C Watch, Columbia University

P.S. To the O'Connor Family: I've been looking forward to seeing you guys so much, and I miss you all dearly. I can't wait to watch the polar express with you guys on Christmas eve next to the tree. To Mike- happy 23rd! I wore the navy button-down I stole from you (sorry!) to celebrate. I love you all and can't wait to see you.

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Caribbean Reef Expedition, • Topics: c295  gap year  life at sea  study abroad  science  sailing  research • (1) Comments
Previous entry: Reflecting on (almost) 9000 miles    Next entry: S-299, Summer Session


#1. Posted by Kim O’Connor on December 21, 2020

What a great report!  We can’t wait to see you on Wednesday. Please tell your friend that we love her saying about adaptability. Taking that one to heart for sure. See you soon! Expect snow!  Love, Mom and Dad



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