SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
November 30, 2014
Change is Good: The Musings of a Bow Watch Insomniac
19°48.5’N x 42°52.0’W
Description of location
North Equatorial Current
Taffrail Log (nm)
Weather / Wind / Sail Plan (from 1300 Watch Change)
Winds East, Force 4. Seas ExN, 4 ft. Cloud coverage: 3/8, cumulus/stratocumulus
Marine Debris Observed last 24hrs
Sargassum Observed last 24hrs
Before leaving for my voyage aboard the Cramer I was told by my father and mother, both seasoned sailors, that on a trip like this my mind would find time to wander to topics that I didn’t know existed. I was told that long sailing trips have the ability to “change you”. Goodness were they right! While up on bow watch on dark nights, calm nights, raging nights, and long nights I have had time to think about a plethora of topics, among which include: college, careers, 90’s songs, cloud watching, star gazing, ranting, philosophizing, and my personal favorite, singing loudly and obnoxiously into the wind because there is no one around to hear you.
But beyond my own personal musings I have witnessed many other moments of enlightenment aboard the Cramer. Missy and I recently spoke to the ships engineer, Mickey, about the use and production of fresh water while at sea. As part of this conversation Mickey told us that on board people use, on average, 11 gallons of water a day. He then asked us how much we thought the average human uses on shore a day. We bumbled about with answers such as “Maybe 25 gallons?...” and were amazed to hear that the number was much closer to 70 gallons. 70 gallons of water A DAY to sustain the average human being on land. The amount was astounding to me and I was mortified by my contribution to this number as well as fascinated by the ability of Cramer and her many passengers to operate and live comfortably on so much less.
Beyond conservation, changes in understanding also happen on a much smaller scale here. Take time for example. While onboard the meaning of time is something that is completely up to us. We have different sleep schedules, different eating schedules, even different holiday schedules! If you read the last blog post you are aware that we chose to celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday this year, rather than the traditional Thursday. This was due to our busy week day schedules and the desire to have Thanksgiving dinner at a time when we could all sit down together. However, beyond the consumption of food, this shift in schedule left me with the impression that all time is relative. While out here, approximately 2000 miles off shore, the rules are different, the rules are up to us. General time zones don’t apply, we change the clocks when Sean tells us to, not when our iPhones automatically update. Tomorrow, for example, will be a 25 hr. day as we fall back an hour to account for the later sunrise that we had today. There is no book that tells us at what longitude to change time zones, out here only we can decide that.
There are changes on a personal level that can be observed as well. We are now entering week three of our voyage and the “Shadow” phase has begun. This means that on every watch the watch officer will select a student, voyager, or sailing intern to shadow them. The selected shadow will then take a leadership role in the watch, asking questions about decisions that the watch officer makes and calling out orders when striking and setting sails. It was a shocking realization for me when I heard Heather up on the bow the other day calling out “Strike the Forestays’l!” When we first arrived at Woods Hole about nine weeks ago Sean asked us, by show of hands, how many of us had previous sailing experience. Now, those same hands that stayed down on that first day of class are moving about the boat with a sureness and efficiency that can only come from experience. Those same hands are hauling on lines, adjusting sextants, and plotting our position while their owners shout orders, ask questions, and prepare for the JWO (Junior Watch Officer) phase of our trip, the phase when the students will be put in charge of the ship while on watch.
Change is most definitely all around us here; I’ve watched as myself and my classmates adjust our views, understandings, impressions, and assertions. I have come to understand that SEA and the Corwith Cramer are so much more than a vehicle for education, they’re a vehicle for change, and those changes feel good.
Signing off from bow watch,
Shout Out: Happy Early Birthday to my Aunt Kathie!! I’ll be thinking of you and sending you all my love on your special day!!! ~ Becca