SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
February 16, 2014
C251 Web Blog - 16 February 2014
19° 50.9N x 65° 56.9W
30° (NE x N)
5 knots, sailing full & by on a starboard tack
scattered cumulus clouds, 27 degrees Celsius, Force 4 east-southeasterly winds, 5 foot seas from the east
It has been a mere 24 hours since setting sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Yet, already, land is far out of sight and the students of our watch are being fully immersed into the world of sailing and oceanographic research. Many aboard are fighting battles of mind over body against the stomach churning mal del mar, and the blisters and raw skin from heavy line handling are just beginning to take their toll. It is rarely easy to enter the guarded domain of Neptune and Poseidon.
Despite these challenges the perennial initiation rites of the sailor I have been repeatedly impressed by everyones ability to put on a smile and keep a positive attitude; to lend a helping hand to their shipmates despite the often intense nausea; and to rally with a sense of purpose and community in order to accomplish the task at hand. Knowing that the worst will soon be over our bodies will acclimate to the constant rolling and pitching, and our soft, raw hands will metamorphose and emerge with hard, salt worn callouses we press on with our mission.
In only their second watch rotation, the students of C-watch have struck and reset the jib, gybed and heaved to, steered the ship steadily at her helm, conducted hourly boat checks and weather observations for the safety of the ship and her crew, and deployed a litany of oceanographic equipment to collect data for their research projects. As our voyage progresses and students assume increasingly more responsibility for the ship, we will step back and observe their metamorphosis into sailors and scientists.
Chief Mate Will McLean noted to me at the end of the first day, What makes this program unique is that it is a place where students can realize that they are truly part of the crew from the very beginning and have all the responsibilities of a ships crew. It is our job and challenge to step back, guide them, and keep them safe. But they are the ones who are actually sailing this ship. Climbing out onto the head rig, I guide the students of my watch in their first furling of the jib upon the bowsprit as it pitches up and down, a task they will soon be accomplishing without any of my assistance. A few meters away, a gannet soars gracefully across the wave crests passing by and a flying fish leaps from the waters surface, gliding for nearly a hundred meters before plummeting back into the sea with a splash.
It is rarely easy to enter the guarded domain of Neptune and Poseidon, but the rewards for doing so are immeasurable.
- Thom Young