SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
April 24, 2018
25° 33.71’N, 075° 14.48’W
Course & Speed
045 6.0 knots
Four lowers and tops’l
Slight breeze, some sun with mixed clouds
After much heaving, hauling, sweating, and grunting, A Watch set the tops'l on the foremast not too long ago, which means today is our first day sailing with a square sail. The Cramer is making good speed with the sporty wind, especially with the tops'l set, although we are still waiting for a shift in the wind so we can sail East deeper into the Sargasso Sea.
We may be waiting for the winds to change, but onboard everyone is far from idle. Between watches, meals, assignments, and sleeping, we are all deep in our watch cycles. Today is a long one for me, as I had morning watch from 0700-1300, and later have dawn watch from 0100 to 0700 (tomorrow morning). I was assigned to the lab for morning watch, which is a busy time on the Cramer - after cleaning the main saloon and doing some preparatory work, from around 0930 to 1230 we deploy a number of scientific instruments for all kinds of data, from phytoplankton density, microbial diversity with depth, and Sargassum sampling with our neuston tow net. All of this is done in coordination with deck watch, who watches over the Cramer and makes any necessary changes to her course or speed to accommodate the scientists. It's a busy time, but I think we're all getting a hang of the work flow.
By now, it feels like we've lived on the Cramer for weeks. Every watch rotates like its own day as we actively defy the 24-hour cycle the sun and earth demand (I wonder if the sunburns I've acquired in spite of my SPF
35 badger sunscreen are a sort of retaliation by the celestial community generally for this whole 18-hour deal). And while we've already learned several buckets-worth of information, we have a long way to go. Captain Jason had a great analogy after two hours of celestial navigation class yesterday: it's like they're throwing spaghetti at us, spaghetti of knowledge. Some of the knowledge spaghetti sticks to us, which maybe we'll eat later, but a lot still falls to the ground. As another analogy, I like to imagine all the students lined up along the port gunwale while our betters throw buckets full of water, water of knowledge, in our general direction. Some of that water will splash back at us, cool, refreshing, inspiring. But a lot will just fall back to the sea. Especially if they toss the whole bucket(s) in too.
Last thing: on shore, we often discussed how a sense of place greatly facilitates - or even may be necessary for - effective conservation. This poses a unique challenge for a place like the Sargasso Sea. With nothing but deep blue ocean around us, one could falsely describe it as boring, or monotonous. But our research here reveals that as far from the truth. And our experiences - whether steering the Cramer at 0200 by keeping Mars just off the course yard to port, or watching a 7-ft mahi mahi investigate our neuston tow - will cement the Sargasso Sea as a place dear to us, and worth our effort to protect. We hope that by sharing these experiences with all of you, some of that sense of place will pass along as well.
PS - Yes parents, they are feeding me more than enough. Also I've never loved oranges so much in my life. Love you all fam and friends!