SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
March 14, 2019
Bon Voyage Grand Cayman, Hello Key West!
19° 18.3’ N x 081° 23.4’ W
Ship’s Heading & Speed
Winds E by S force 3, Seas E by S force less than 1, Skies 1/8ths Cumulous
This morning started off like any other morning at anchor with a voice right outside my bunk letting me know it’s 6:30 am and breakfast will be starting in 30 minutes. I know I can get at least 10 more minutes of rest, but it’s a very dangerous game to play because I can’t press the snooze button on a person. Luckily I haven’t missed breakfast at all during this voyage because my bunk is located right where the food is being served, so all I have to do is pop out of my bunk and start eating. The breakfast this morning was oatmeal, which was a perfect start to a very active, reef survey day.
After breakfast every day each watch has a specific task that they must complete for the day. For example, B watch had breakfast cleanup which is pretty self-explanatory, but we had to put all of the food and dishes away from breakfast so the galley would be able to be clean enough to start lunch. Chores for all watches had to be done by 8:20 for the all hands muster on the courter deck so we can start the rescue boat runs to shore at 8:30. As we were approaching the dock our boat saw a familiar figure… CRAIG!! Everyone on the boat started shouting Craig and someone even shouted dad; I think I can say for everyone that we missed our boat dad, and we are all very happy he will be joining us again for the last leg of our journey. Craig by the way is our Maritime Studies professor.
The rescue boats can only hold five to eight people depending on which boat you get on, so it takes a couple runs for everyone to come ashore. In the meantime, for the people who were already on the dock, we were able to explore the tide pools. I’m completely obsessed with shells and anything you could find in a tide pool, so of course I found a couple to add to my collection. Before I knew it everyone was there, and it was time for Jeff (Chief Scientist) to talk to us about the reef survey boundaries and safety concerns. Grand Cayman is a very touristy place, that isn’t a bad thing, but we had to be very careful not to get run over by a boat. It’s hard to miss us, though, because we all had bright colors on and we all stayed in a group. All of our limbs made it safely back with us to the ship!
Most of our time in the water was spent looking at the beautiful coral reef that was right below our noses. On our way snorkeling out we say a gorgeous sting ray that took my breath away, as well as so many parrotfish. My favorite thing about snorkeling close to parrotfish is being able to hear them munch on the coral. My partner Lucas and I took turns diving down to take a closer look at everything and after about 50 minutes in the water, we had to make our way back with the group. The main reason for leaving after a short while was that the Environmental Team needed to collect their data. Jeff gathered me and a couple other people so we could walk back to the dock to jump on a rescue boat, so it can take us to the right spot in the reef. We jumped right off the boat and started out collecting.
My job is the plankton tow and microplastics. I always feel like a mermaid when I do the plankton tow because that’s how Jeff described it on shore (see earlier blog post on February 13th); I’m hoping we can spread the mermaid vibes on to the next plankton tow chick/ dude. The microplastic samples are a little less to collect but they are still a vital part of the reef survey. The other samples that we collected were pH and chl-a. It takes only a few seconds to collect those samples, whereas the plankton tow takes exactly 10 minutes, which means I was going to be the last one to get back on the boat. It’s very easy for me to jump into the water off the side on a boat, but it’s a lot more difficult to get back on soaking wet and without a ladder. My fellow environmental team members suggested for me to propel myself onto the boat using my flippers. That’s easier said than done. I maybe propelled myself 1/5th on the boat, and with the help of our very strong engineer, Henry, he pulled me 3/5ths of the way on the boat. The rest of the way was up to me, and I was successful in getting on the boat, but I felt a lot like a beached whale.
The environmental team zoomed back to process their samples, and shortly after the rest of the class joined us on the boat to get ready for the rest of the day. Port stops give us an excuse to dress up, so most people put dresses on, and everyone looked fabulous. We were ready to hit the town, but not without lunch first. In honor of Pi Day (March 14th or 03.14) we had Shepherd’s Pie and real pie- that was quite delicious. I got off the boat as soon as I could because this girl was craving one thing and one thing only. Ice cream. Right in the middle of town there is the most amazing gelato shop that makes all other gelato shops look horrible in comparison. Going there definitely was one of my best decisions since I arrived in Grand Cayman.
After my priorities were set straight, I ventured to the Cayman Islands National Museum to meet some of the other classmates that were interested in going too. I got to the museum way too early, but that gave me some time to peruse the gift store. Not more than 10 minutes later, the rest of our group arrived and we were showed to a room with two movie screens. Both of the screens were showing short videos of parts of the island; they paused every couple minutes to remind us when the actual video would start playing. When it did it was very informative and covered many important parts of the island: how it was discovered, slavery, animals of the island, and the newest part, tourism. The video ended so we walked around the rest of the museum, and my favorite part was the natural history exhibit. In the exhibit there was a whole case of shells that you could find on the island. It also focused on the different turtles on the island, extinct animals, and the booming tourism mixing with the environment. Overall in was a wonderful museum that was well worth my time.
With the rest of the afternoon ahead of us, we started to explore more of the island. Some of my friends showed me places that I didn’t go to yesterday, and I did the same for them, but we also found some stores that were completely new to all of us. Sadly, the evening came to a fast end when B watch had to meet the boats back on the dock for watch. We joined some of the crew on board for dinner, which was stir-fry, and B watch also had to do galley cleanup. Basically we cleaned all of the dishes and galley, but it was so much fun because we got to listen to music (mostly ABBA).
Through all of the rough and sleepless times, this experience has been one of the best I’ve ever had, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I wish that the friends I have made on this adventure will always stay in touch and that we will all have more experiences like this.
- Allison Gaydeski, Beluga watch, Gap year
P.S. to family and friends if you so choose: Hi Momma, grandma, Grandpa, Lisa, Mick, Finn, Nicholas, Rebecca and Abby! I miss you all so much and I really appreciate all of your love and support! Mom- I have not hurt myself so please be proud of meJ