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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer

May 13, 2021


Natalie Cross, A Watch, Stanford University


Above: Our shrunken cups post the styrocast! Below: Me (Natalie), Kass and Anna proudly under the raffee, Kass is wearing the new raffee hat used to designate who is currently the JWO (Junior Watch Officer) on deck. Ari watches as Ryan poses inside the 2 meter net (we deployed this net at 200 m depth last night!).

Noon Position
39°36.4’N x 70°26.4’W

Ship Heading

Ship Speed
Hove to

Taffrail Log
2490 nm

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan
Hove to on a port tack under the mains’l, mainstays’l and forestays’l. Wind blowing WNW at a Beaufort Force 2, Seas NNW less than 1 ft, visibility 5-11 nm

Description of location
Off the continental shelf, 110 nm SE of Montauk

Souls on board

I turned 21 yesterday. On a boat. In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Definitely the most surreal and memorable birthday I have ever and probably will ever have. It was a great day full of sunny, (kind of) warm weather and lots of pie. There’s something about spending a month within the confines of a 130-foot-long sailboat that brings people closer together, and I could not be more grateful to have been able to spend my birthday with the little family that we’ve built here on Cramer.

Although my birthday was technically yesterday, the excitement definitely extended into today. My day started at 0600 when I got woken up in advance of morning watch. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a morning person, so it was definitely a bit of a struggle to get out of my bunk this morning. However, a breakfast of tater tots and fried eggs gave me the energy I needed to get going. The first task of the morning was to set the raffee! The uppermost triangular sail on the forward mast, the raffee is affectionally known as Cramer’s “party hat” and it’s one of my watch’s primary goals to set the raffee as much as possible (because it’s a party on deck whenever the raffee is up!). We sadly were only able to keep the raffee up for about an hour, as we had to strike it in preparation for our morning science deployment, however it definitely set the tone for the rest of the day.

Instead of our typical morning station science deployments, today we deployed the styrocast. Styrocast is just a fancy word for attaching a weight to a mesh bag full of sharpie-decorated styrofoam cups and sending it 1,000 meters down into the ocean. You might be wondering how on earth these styrofoam cups are relevant to science… basically what happens is that the high pressure deep within the ocean compresses the styrofoam down but the structure of the styrofoam causes the cups remain in their shrunken size even after we pull it back up from depth. So now we each have our own little styrofoam ‘shot glasses’ that are evidence of the powerful pressure forces that exist within the ocean, a pretty good use of the morning if you ask me.

During class we got the report that dawn watch had counted 2,030 jellyfish within the Neuston net tow (that’s 7.5 GALLONS of jellyfish!) We then heard whale calls for the first time on the hydrophone (the underwater microphone), which was especially exciting for me as I’m a part of the marine mammal research group. It didn’t stop there though, a few hours later we saw whales and kept seeing them on and off for the rest of the afternoon. The low winds and high visibility made for ideal whale watching weather! There were also a bunch of common dolphins (they have a really pretty yellow stripe down their side – definitely would recommend looking them up) and right before dinner I saw a shark swim right past the starboard side of our boat. All in all, an absolutely insane day for wildlife!

As I write this I’m currently sitting up on the roof of the lab (by far my favorite spot on this boat) and taking many breaks to watch common dolphins swim alongside the bow and the sun starting to set behind our stern – there aren’t really words to describe how special moments like this are but I’m doing my best to soak it all in. 

To my friends and family, I miss and love you all and can’t wait to ramble endlessly to you about everything I’ve seen/done these past few weeks. I hope you had fun at prom Serena and please give Max and Cookie extra treats for me. Sending all my love <3

- Natalie Cross, A Watch, Stanford University

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Marine Biodiversity & Conservation, • Topics: c297  mbc  life at sea  study abroad • (2) Comments
Previous entry: Reflecting on (almost) 9000 miles    Next entry: S-299, Summer Session


#1. Posted by Samantha Cross on May 14, 2021

So happy that you had a great birthday, Natalie! Unique, to be sure, but unforgettable. Wonderful that you are getting to view so much marine life. We love you too. Can’t wait to hear the endless rambles about your experiences!

#2. Posted by Mateo Fontana on May 19, 2021

I love your title and writing. Story comes alive.

I turned 21 yesterday. On a boat. In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.



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