SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
November 09, 2018
Grey Skies and New Hats
11°47.7’N x 055°53.9’ W
Description of Location
Tropics, East of Barbados
West by South
1.6 knots under the Forstays’l and Mainstays’l
Sea Surface Temp/Salinity
28.1°C/ 34.2 psu
Early November. At home frosts and cold rains, deer wandering down to the beach to eat seaweed if snow in the mountains covers their usual browse. Grey skies, and seas. Grey days.
I feel extra at home on the Corwith Cramer today as overcast skies and periodic squalls bring that early November southeast Alaska feel to the tropical Atlantic, albeit 50 degrees warmer. It is a relief after the hot dry days as we sailed south past first few degrees of latitude into the tropics. The weather is not the only thing shifting here on Cramer Boat. As an extra challenge to our JWO's and JLO's on A Watch my watch partner and I swapped spots this Friday. She is standing as deck officer which means I get to be in the Lab!
So many exciting things have happened.
As luck would have it, we did our "Styrocast" today. We used our hydrowinch to submerge many brightly colored Styrofoam cups down approximately 2500 meters into the deep sea. A free CTD (Conductivity (aka salt content) Temperature and Depth) was added as an afterthought to gather data about the characteristics of that water. Cold? Salty? Related to the Antarctic? The Amazon river? I don't have the science know how to answer any of those questions, or even access the data that the CTD gathered. But I still supported the process by painting soothing oil over the hydrowinch wire to keep it in good conditions for future deployments. The tiny cups were recovered safely, and bob quietly in their bucket of fresh warm water as we speak.
Next I got to participate in my favorite deployment, the Neuston tow! The Neuston net is as close as we get to a family dog aboard the good ship Cramer. It's always ready to go on an adventure, and fetching plankton is it's favorite game. Slurping up the tops of the wave crests, and sailing across troughs, seems like a pretty good life.
Rain was pouring down by this point. I wonder if all the fresh water will be noticeable in our surface station? We dutifully triple rinsed many different sizes and textiles of container and filled them all with water from these warm tropical seas. In my eyes this is a moment of transformational magic. The water that is sloshing all around us changes from the everyday liquid we wash in, drink, stare at, and becomes now one precious sample to be protected in its glass/dark glass/or plastic container. We bring it into the lab and investigate it with light, chemicals, tiny pumps and microscopes. Yet at the end of the day it's still the same warm water sloshing over my feet as I stand next to the rail, or spraying across my face and hair when a wave splashes up the side of the boat.
Eventually it will be the same water seeping into my Xtratuff boots, or slithering into my gloves an ocean away in Alaska some November in the future. The rain will fall in the same way as today, from a grey sky to flutter the surface of the grey sea.
Adrienne Wilbur, A Watch