SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
December 03, 2017
Aloft in the Tobago Cays
12° 38.342’ N x 61° 21.819’ W
While at sea, it is tough to find time to do schoolwork, relax, or even sleep; oddly enough it seems as though all 33 aboard, including the seasoned mariners, find plenty of time to slip deep into thought while staring out into the vast expanse of the ocean. Whether it is taking a break from lab work for “sunset appreciation time”, taking a moment to experience the plethora of stars which appear after the moon dips below the horizon, or, for some, desperately trying to not be sea sick, when you walk around deck you can see the gears turning in peoples’ heads. It is something I believe is unique to this ship and this voyage. However, as we came in and anchored in the Grenadines on Friday, life has been different on board. While anchored we go on science missions during the day, and at night groups of two take turns standing anchor watch for hour long shifts, allowing for more sleep at night.
On Friday we anchored at Union Island and spent the day previously described by my shipmate, Alex, who wrote the blog before mine. On Saturday we started the day by visiting the Ashton Lagoon Restoration Project. This site was planned to have a marina built in the 90’s to bring economic prosperity to the town of Ashton. However, midway through construction, the company ran out of financial capital and aborted building the marina. All that was left were skeletons of docks and metal which literally cut off the ocean circulation in the area, essentially suffocating all living sea flora and fauna in the area.
Even before that, reefs and mangroves had been dredged out in order to make way for the marina. As we visited the site we walked over piles of dead coral and shells. This site was sad, but there was some hope. We met with a team of people from an NGO called Sustainable Grenadines who currently are working on a project to bring ocean circulation back to the area, and restore the ecosystem back to pre-marina standards. They are still in the beginning phases of the work but have already made progress on opening up the channel for circulation.
After lunch on Saturday we repositioned the ship over to Petite Tabac, an island in the Tobago Cays area, most commonly known for its role in being a set in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Since then, we have gone on 3 different snorkel missions to different reefs to collect data. We’ve seen both dead and dying coral with few fish as well as thriving reefs with thousands of healthy, large fish. Currently, we are anchored at Petite Rameau, another Tobago Cays island and have one more full day of snorkel missions in the Cays before we set sail for Montserrat.
One of my favorite things to do on the ship, when I’m not on watch, is to go aloft. Going aloft means climbing the rigging up the mast. When you are 100 feet off the deck of the Cramer, it is a whole new viewing perspective, as well as a bit of a rush. It is also a time where it is especially easy to slip into deep thought. Whether underway or anchored it is always a fun activity, alone or with friends. I’m having so much fun already and can’t wait for what the next three weeks have in store.