SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
March 03, 2015
17° 06.2’ N x 62° 52.6’ W
Description of location
3.7 miles west of St. Kitts
Weather / Wind / Sail Plan (from 1300 Watch Change)
Wind ESE force 5, cloud cover 2/8 cumulus, 29°C, sailing under single reefed main, mainstays’l, and forestays’l
Marine Mammals Observed last 24hrs (estimate of totals)
A pod of dolphins this morning!!!
Sargassum Observed last 24hrs (estimate of totals)
28 windrows, 3 clumps, and many fragments. So much Sargassum!
Hello to all the loved ones,
Although we just left St. Martin yesterday, we are well on our way to Montserrat by now. The journey between these two islands is very short (should only take us about 2 days), but we have to immerse ourselves fully into the sailor’s mindset while we’re out here. We all had an incredible time in St. Martin, and we are looking forward to a very unique experience on Montserrat, but for these next two days, we are here on the ocean. I believe one of the most challenging aspects of this experience is staying present in the moment always; which means switching frequently between land and sea mindsets. I mean this statement partially in the cliché sense of the phrase – that we will really get the most out of this experience if we cherish each moment as it comes. But I also mean it in a much more concrete way.
While we’re out here sailing, it’s good to be excited about our port stops, but we also need to think about the ship, the sea, and the physical world around us in each moment in order to make this whole experience a success. I think about what we will do when we get to Montserrat a lot, but if I catch myself daydreaming too much about the upcoming “Emerald Isle,” I could screw up something on the ship. Remaining focused on the present has allowed me to appreciate not only the unique cultures and histories of the diverse places we are visiting, but also the beauty and power of the sea, and the responsibility of maintaining Watch on the Cramer – our home and means of travel among the islands.
Part of staying in the present moment means experiencing the physical world in its full glory, and that includes the weather. Last night while A Watch was on, we got hit with a powerful squall. When we saw it in
the distance, I hoped that we might just pass by it, but shortly I found myself drenched in cold rain (cold all relative now..), having to scream just to talk to the person a foot away from me. But it’s all just a part of
the job. Anyway, I can’t speak for my shipmates, but I actually thought it was pretty cool.
Today, bright and sunny once again, was an exciting day for science!!! The morning was our first time doing science since leaving St. Martin, so we did what we aptly refer to as a “superstation.” On most days,
we deploy a couple different pieces of scientific equipment, depending on what our chief scientist Dr. Jeff Schell decides. But on superstation days, we do them all: we deploy essentially every piece of scientific equipment that we have on board this ship (Shipek grab, Secchi disk, hydrocast station, free CTD, and neuston net. I’ll spare the details on what each of these things does (I think some may be explained in previous blog entries), but basically we retrieved sediment samples from the bottom, water samples from multiple depths, and zooplankton and algae samples from the sea surface. We also measured the salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll-a levels at different depths as well as water visibility from the sea surface. Under the leadership of our amazing scientist Gar, A Watch worked as a team all morning to do these many deployments. Our samples are still being processed so I can’t say much on what we actually found, but we did see some beautiful pteropod shells in the sediment sample collected from 716m deep!.
Adding to the excitement of science this morning, we had a friendly dolphin pod swimming around our ship. We’ve seen dolphins a few times now, but every time is just as incredible as the last. These dolphins this morning hung around for a while, sometimes coming above the surface (to breathe or to show off?). Every time I have to post on this blog, I bring news of dolphins, but I’m not complaining. In St. Martin, as we said a sad goodbye to our friend Randall from Anguilla, we happily welcomed two new members aboard our ship: artists Rick Lee Jones and Peter Stone. Both of these men had visited our class a few times back in Woods Hole to lead workshops on drawing and painting with water color. One of our big assignments for this trip is to keep a journal of our experiences, including illustrations of things we witness. Our illustrations include recognition drawings of islands, Caribbean flora and fauna, equipment on the boat, and whatever else our hearts desire. While some of my peers have a ton of artistic experience (and raw talent!), others such as myself are new to this whole art thing. Rick and Peter have been my guiding stars, walking me through all the proper ways to sketch and paint.
They also provide the praise I need whenever I want to throw my notebook overboard. As frustrated as I get with my artistic limitations, these journals are an amazing way to capture multiple facets of our journey. I feel myself growing as a person as I carefully work through my drawings and figure out how to render my impressions on paper. Drawing forces you to really notice the details of the physical world, which takes me back to my original point of experiencing the present. I want to leave you with a quote from the lovely Ruby Bute, artist and poet from St. Martin:
Remember, we are all just humans
Passing through on borrowed time.
And this really is what we are doing on this boat: passing through the ocean and passing through the islands; and as we pass through we have to put our full selves into it - to absorb as much as we can from this fleeting experience.
Of course, as I try to embrace the present moment, I’m always thinking of my family and friends (and dogs) back home. I love you and I miss you all!