SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
September 26, 2019
In the Gilbert Canyon
Dear Friends and Family,
It's Thursday evening, and our journey offshore is nearing its halfway point. Over the last day, we've passed Georges Bank, the historic cod fishing grounds east of Nantucket, and are currently sailing across the northern end of Gilbert Canyon, just east of Oceanographer Canyon, neighboring features of the North Atlantic floor that only seem to have been named for Williams-Mystic oceanographer Lisa Gilbert. (Anyone following along from home can find us by tracing a line east from Asbury Park, NJ.)
We've had our queasy moments. Some rough seas a few nights back sent most of us to the rail. But the sea has settled, and our bellies with it, and there is much to look at with fresh eyes: small, silvery fish pulled from a midnight Neuston tow; rocks older than the Atlantic hauled up from the deep ocean floor; dolphins weaving back and forth in front of the bow; a finback whale in the near distance. The teaching crew, meanwhile, points high to a sail and asks us to tell the luff from the leech. Then they pass around a sextant, a centuries-old navigation device that one might at first mistake for an old-timey movie camera, and coach us in celestial trigonometry.
A listener overhears students talking. One talks about how free he feels not carrying his cell phone. "I don't know," he says. "I feel more connected because I'm not connected, like I'm living in the moment for the first time in years, like I can just pay attention to what I'm doing." Another imagines describing life on the Cramer to someone who has never been to sea. It wouldn't be enough just to list the day's activities, she says. They wouldn't communicate what life offshore is like. "What - am I going to say that I woke up in a tiny bunk and couldn't find my socks, and then I picked tiny shrimp out of salps for six hours? That's not it. The ship is a machine that just keeps running, and what's interesting is how you get absorbed into it."
Until next time,