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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer

May 16, 2018

Children of the Boat

Mason Martinez, B Watch, Macalester College

Study Abroad at Sea

B watch and eggs after a tough and chilly dawn watch.

Current Position
35º 55.3’ N x 069º 10.6’W

North Sargasso Sea, almost to the Gulf Stream

Course & Speed
C/o 320º PSC (304º True), about 5 kts

Taffrail Log
1,637.0 nm

Sail Plan
four lowers, reefed mains’l

24ºC, cumulus & altocumulus, winds from the southwest at a strong force 4

Sargassum growing more abundant as we approach the edge of the North Atlantic Gyre, many Portuguese man o’ wars (look them up, the coolest & weirdest animal around), dolphins around the last few days (finally).

Souls on Board


Three days out from Bermuda. I've found that the first three days out from port prove to be the most taxing, both mentally and physically, as we have to readjust to the watch schedule, motion of the ocean, and extreme self-containment of sea life. That said, tomorrow is looking up. After a long dawn watch and 3 total hours of sleep last night I'm more than ready to sleep from 0100 to 1100 tonight after evening watch. We are in the throes of the Junior Watch Officer (JWO) and Junior Lab Officer (JLO)  phase, meaning things could get a lil shaky for the Neuston tow maneuvers tonight as our eager but unproven students take command of the deck.

Today was the Great Buoy Chase, a hallowed event where we sort of do circles around a fender dressed in a fashionable yellow rain slicker in an attempt to snag it with the boat hook (for those in the fire service, it's the same thing as a pike pole). Each watch took a turn endeavoring to capture our faithful foul weather gear model, and all toppled like poorly maintained skyscrapers in an earthquake as the rain ready dummy eluded our collective grasp. The staff are currently on deck trying to clean up our mess and get the gear back aboard (if we've learned anything on this trip it's that the ocean doesn't need more synthetic materials floating in it). After a few failures and rehashing of plans they've apparently retrieved the cargo.

As the watches get underway I find myself looking for more non-boat-related distractions to occupy my notoriously fleeting free time. My ever-extending to-do/ bucket list tends to clash with the mental unspooling of watch adjustment, but I'll try to take it to the pin and fasten to a fair lead for the viewers back home:

  1.  Sheet anchor. Always at the top of the to-do list. I plan to start the second leg of our personally-focused and externally-motivated guide to the seas tomorrow, though I probably should have gotten on it a lot earlier if I wanted to  totally finish by the May 21st deadline.
  2. Go up far. Terrifying but important. The last time I went aloft I was already covered in sweat halfway to the first yard. I want to make it to at least the second. I haven't truly explored my apparent fear of heights (at least my fear of being unsecured and under the power of only my own traditionally imprecise locomotive skills), but I feel like this trip is wasted without trying to get out of your comfort zone at every available opportunity. Perhaps tomorrow before I start my  sheet anchor.
  3. JWO/JLO.  We are taking more responsibility for sailing the ship and running the ship's lab in the Junior Watch Officer and Junior Lab Officer phase of this journey.  I probably will not excel at the initiative portion of these responsibilities, but I feel like I have the know-how to succeed once I figure out what plan of action to take. Excited to make mistakes and take it as a learning experience, just like the rest of the voyage, only this time the whole ship moves at your command and yours alone, so I better learn to speak up. Comfort zone departures in terminal B.
  4. Keep thoughts logged. Had a few intensive and productive personal reflection sessions around this point after leaving the Bahamas, so I have my pen at the ready to capture those if they come again. While I've never really enjoyed journaling, I find I can create a reasonable entry if I sort of leave out what we did that day and focus entirely on thoughts and feelings. Personal reflection always helps through hard times, and if we have less than a week left, I feel it will be valuable to keep a record of my mental state to look back on.
  5.  Keep the mind occupied. While I'm not on this boat to sit around reading all day, I find that there's a unique mental state that comes after sitting on the deck and reading for a couple hours. I've chewed through a fair few novels since setting sail; they're great for giving my ever-errant thoughts direction. Also have been playing guitar more and more, we'll see if I keep up the practice and motivation when I get back on shore though.

Important to keep a clear head and positive outlook until we pull into New York. Only 6 days left. At this point there's no reason not to try to milk everything we can out of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and realize how lucky we are to be out here, away from everything, doing so much work for both the scientific world and for our own growth. I think I'm going to come away from the voyage more at ease with myself and those around me, and while I'm excited to enjoy the comforts of Land Life once again, I'm by no means eager to be done with the trip or to be beset with the obligations that come with Phone Life and constant connectivity. Like I said, gotta keep journaling. Mental changes are fun to look back on.


P.S. hey mom and dad and Lily. I had a wonderful time in Bermuda, only a teeny sunburn, saw a lot of nice things snorkeling. Hope this wasn't too long, thanks to the viewers back home for steady reading our posts and the loved ones looking out for me you're all indispensable.

Previous entry: Local Apparent Goodbye    Next entry: S-280: Pacific Reef Expedition


#1. Posted by Ernie Martine on May 18, 2018

Busy packing Lily for her trip to Europe, she’ll be gone by the time you make land. Great tracking the ship and crew’s progress and discoveries on this blog, welcome back to terra firma.

#2. Posted by Porter on May 21, 2018

Mason: Now you’ve got it! Journal on, mon…



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