SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
Here We Are
16°54.3’N x 063°11.1’W
Description of location
Force 5, partly cloudy
Just like that, we’re back into the normal ship routine we all missed so much from before we anchored in Portsmouth. Mind you, Dominica was incredibly beautiful; the boiling lake, the beaches, French fries, ice cream, all of it felt like a dream after thirty days at sea. I realized while we were sitting at a restaurant called the Purple Turtle on our last day in port that being on land felt less familiar to me at this point in time than being back on the ship. I was craving Morgan and Kate’s incredible cooking, testing my ability to curl my fingers in the morning to see how sore my hands were from the previous day’s sail handling, and that not-quite-so-gentle rocking from the ship that forced me to “taco” myself into my bunk.
Just like that, we’ve been underway for over twenty-four hours rapidly approaching our final destination in St. Croix. This morning when I awoke for morning watch, I was pleasantly surprised by a view of nothing but ocean stretching out and eating away at the horizon. Several people had speculated that we would not have a point in our trip where we would no longer be able to see land. I have treasured every moment of the illusion that we are still hundreds of miles away from land. We were greeted with cool morning showers on deck this morning from a passing squall, one of the first real squalls we’ve had all trip. We took advantage of the freshwater to give Cramer’s deck a thorough freshwater rinse, trying to scrub away those last tracks of stray sand that hopped aboard the crevaces of our sandals while we wandered through Dominica. We cherished the laziness of the morning watch when we had dull moments as well as the intensity when we needed to get the Neuston on board, strike the forestays’l, set the course, and do a boat check all within a matter of twenty minutes. We’ve been reminiscing on earlier days when simply setting the course (a square sail with fourteen lines associated it) would have taken twenty minutes on its own. We’re relishing the hard work we put into taking care of our ship, scrubbing her from head to toe on our field day which, deceivingly enough, does not mean we take a brief excursion from the boat as I originally believed back when I was a student.
Just like that, the students have gone from not knowing a halyard from a downhaul to running the ship. Looking back at where everyone started, myself included, it’s hard to pick a point where that shift happened. It’s funny how comparing one day to the next yields negligible results, and yet the growth happened somewhere. We can pilot our ship using the stars, the wind, and the clouds; the students know how to successfully be in charge for a watch; and we know the equipment in lab backwards and forwards. Triple stack neuston tow with a 1m and 2m net plus a 250m hydrocast for the midnight deployment? No problem! The watch officers here are some of the most gifted instructors you will ever meet, and, as I’m sure you’ve gleaned from previous posts by now or stories from your children/friends/family members, the culture on the ship is unlike any other place in the world.
Just like that, the trip will come to a close. We’re all talking about it, but it’s one of those things where it won’t hit you that you are about to leave a place you’ve fallen in love with until the moment it happens. A lot of us are wondering if this is the last time we’ll ever be on the ship, if we’ll ever be in the same place with all of these people ever again, if we’ll ever find a community like this again or have friends who understand us the way our shipmates do. Whatever happens later down the road, what’s important is this: here we are, sailing under the course and the mainstays’l on a starboard tack.
Carleton College Class of 2015