SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
November 27, 2020
24°04.18’N x 081°10.12’W
Jib, Fore Stay Sail, Main Stay Sail, and Main Sail
Mostly sunny, with a few clouds. Winds are ESE and a 4 on the Beaufort scale.
Description of Location
40 nm ESE of Key West
Estimate of marine mammals seen in the last 24 hours
Estimate of sargassum seen in the last 24 hours
Benthic and S. fluitans III
As Katie was fast asleep at 0030, Caroline woke up for the first dawn watch of the trip.
After a few hours of rest, I slung myself out of my top bunk and grabbed some coffee before heading up to the deck. The weather was agreeable at first, but after a few hours some squalls passed through so we had to grab our foul weather gear from the saloon. C watch spent the night rotating positions on deck every hour. As I stood lookout from 0100 to 0200, I was pleasantly surprised to see a few shooting stars, as well as some bioluminescence in the water below. I had some trouble operating the helm with the rain falling so heavily, so my mate (Sara) had to help me out a lot. Unlike some other members of the crew, I didn’t struggle with nausea during my watch. At dawn, I was relieved of the helm to wake up the next watch.
As Caroline neared the end of her six hour watch, still donned in her foulies, she gently woke me up, which marked the beginning of my day. Much to my surprise, my wave of seasickness had started to subside, but as I joined the rest of my watch on the quarter deck, I began to realize that wasn’t the case for many of my peers. Most of watch A started our duties, pausing momentarily to bring saltines, ginger chews, and water to our shipmates doubled over the side of the boat. I relieved the prior watch’s helmsman and began to steer the boat, riding the swells. After several minutes, my watch officer, Rocky, informed me that we would need to gybe soon in order to stay out of Cuban waters. We followed the lead of Rocky and our watch scientist, Lila, and pulled on and eased halyards, sheets, and braces, adapting the ship’s sails to take wind from the other direction, as we turned 180 degrees. As is the case with many components of our ship life so far, learning to gybe was a steep learning curve, but an enjoyable one too, and our crew never failed to walk us through procedures, uttering the names of lines they’ve already repeated 10 times or prompting us to repeat commands. As we continued to sail, we prepared to deploy several pieces of science equipment that would tell us a range of data, from pH to salinity to what invertebrates live in the neuston layer. In order position the boat for deployment, we had to gybe to hove to, which included climbing out to the bow sprit. With shaky legs and only a net (and a clipped in harness) holding us from the lurching waves below, my watch mates and I tied down the jib, and supported the lab team as they deployed their scientific instruments.
After being relieved of our watch by Watch B, I scarfed down some delicious lunch prepared by our stewards, Ashley and Katey. At 1400, we all mustered (gathered) on the quarter deck for class. We began with presentations from our last dawn watch, one about all things waves and another displaying our current cruise track. Very quickly, our already fairly short attention spans were diverted to dolphins playing through the wake of the bow. As we watched the playful animals leap effortlessly through the salty air, we were all reminded to take a breath and appreciate our time spent on the Corwith Cramer.
- Caroline O’Connor, C watch, Columbia University
- Katie McKenna, A watch, Williams College
P.S. To dad, Tim and the many others, Happy late Thanksgiving! Hope you’re enjoying the powdery Juneau snow, and are able to get in a few extra turns and strides for me. Love you all! – Katie
P.S.S. To Tad, Kim, Mike and Cay—I miss you loads, and I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Love you! -- Caroline
Editor's Note: In response to the coronavirus pandemic, all SEA Semester students, faculty, and crew aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer boarded the ship after strictly isolating on shore, and after repeated negative tests for COVID-19. To ensure the health and safety of those onboard, the ship will not conduct any port stops and will remain in coastal waters so that any unlikely medical situations may be resolved quickly.