SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
July 15, 2015
48.05.734 x 04.19.353
Description of location
Docked at Douarnenez
Weather / Wind / Sail Plan (from 1300 Watch Change)
Partly sunny skies
Marine Mammals Observed last 24hrs (estimate of totals)
3 sea monsters
We arrived in Douarnenez at roughly 08:00 this morning with the crew in high spirits. I have to admit that I was taken aback by the natural beauty of the area, despite the sea fog hindering visibility along the coastline. The rolling, green farmland on the coast across the harbor granted us an unexpected juxtaposition against the unmistakably European architecture of the town with its church spires towering in the foggy distance. As pockets of crowd gathered around the dock to watch us roll in, the crew was quick to absorb that it was easy to feel like a minor celebrity on board the ship when docked in a foreign harbor. After a brief struggle with taut lines and barnacle-laden ladders, our humble crew mustered together in the main salon to chart out the day that had lain ahead of us.
I admit that I have always been one to embrace the unconventional, be that embrace in a conventional or unconventional way. I did after all find the great fortune to have been able to make my way onto this ship to begin with. I had reasoned that it would take a special kind of person to willingly subject themselves to the confines of a 134ft brigantine for a number of weeks on unpredictable seas. Let’s face it: fair weather is no guarantee, sea sickness is a horrid experience, and being assigned to do the dishes for a crew of 29 sucks. And yet here we were, 12 students from all over the world jubilant with anticipation to take the first step on French soil after a long four night voyage over the Celtic Sea and the English Channel.
As I first climbed that rusty ladder to take that step- the familiar fragrance of salt in the air now lined with a particularly pervading essence of trade fish from the market- I did feel my chest well with pride. As my eyes fell upon the horizon full of the pastel steeples and hills of Douarnenez, each violerie and creperie stacked one on top of the other, I felt within that air the true beauty of life.
It is an amazing thing, the effects ship life may have on the mind. Cliché as it may be, the days and nights tend to blur together into one continuously routine pattern when one lives from watch to watch. Not even a week into this trip and the camaraderie of the sea has united us as students and shipmates beneath the baggy sails of the Cramer. We’ve all felt the deck taken out from under our feet after a particularly hefty swell. We’ve all suddenly been subjected to a brisk shower of cool brine as our ship rolled beneath our feet. We’ve all gone to retrieve a much-needed dose of caffeine from the coffee pot, only to find the liquid chilled to the touch. We awaken together at 02:30, 21:30, 06:30, 12:30. We take our watch a half hour later, manning any number of positions from the helm to lookout. I prefer lookout.
A good lookout during the day will spot ships the moment their rigging hazes into visibility on the horizon and report this, along with any noteworthy objects, to the mate on watch. A good lookout during the night will tend to spot the shadows of no less than three sea monsters beneath the swells, two pirate vessels flanking broad of our starboard bow, seven foreign objects capable of sinking the ship dead-ahead, and one rogue wave. The lookout position at the forward-most point of the ship is also an excellent time for one to stretch their vocal chords and rehearse their personal rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. This extra time alone can also leave the mind to wander towards things that are honestly best not contemplated too heavily; the most notable of which are the past and the future. During especially rocky weather, this position at the bow can also become much more interesting for those in search of a quick shower without wishing to navigate below a rolling deck.
Still, despite whatever hardships there may be of this job, I find the sensation of the waves rolling beneath me as we monitor our ship’s progress is much like the same breath of life that we received after stepping onto Douarnenez. It is the reason that we embrace the unconventional and persevere through the cold showers and lukewarm coffee. It is the reason that we continue to awaken early for every watch, and yeah, the reason that we came in the first place. I personally can think of no better way to embrace this voyage than to serve my shipmates with eager eyes at the bow, gaze affixed towards a golden horizon to which we draw ever nearer. We have conquered the first leg of our voyage, and now hang our sails together in beautiful Douarnenez for crepes, cider, and the sea.