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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer

December 18, 2014

Preparing for Science on the Saba Bank

Clare Morrall, Visiting Scientist

A traditional working sailing sloop seen this morning in Philipsburg- somewhat dwarfed by cruise ships, but busily plying interisland trade as has been done between the islands for centuries.

2030 Position
17° 41.2’ N x 63°08.7’W

Description of location
En route to St. John via the Saba Bank

Ship Heading

Ship Speed
8 knots

Weather / Wind / Sail Plan (from 1300 Watch Change)
2/8 cloud cover, 4 ft swells, wind ESE f3. Port tack, four lowers, JT, and tops’l.

T’was one week before Christmas and we’ve just set sail, departing the island of Saint Martin/Sint Maarten and heading for St. John in the US Virgin Islands!

This is Clare- I’m a visiting scientist who has had the privilege of working with the fantastic C256 faculty and students since the end of September. I’ve taken a sabbatical from my position at St. George’s University in Grenada in the southern Caribbean and I’ve had a great few months with SEA ashore in New England and on board the Cramer.

I started drafting this blog as the sunset on the quarterdeck of the fine vessel the Cramer that has been my home for the past 37 days. We set sail late this afternoon and with a cup of tea in hand, I enjoyed the 360 degree view and wondered what I should share in my blog. For starters, my sunset view included the islands of St. Kitts and St. Eustatius and Saba set against yet another beautiful and complex Caribbean evening sky.  At our stern was the busy Dutch Antillian port of Philipsburg on the Dutch side of the island of Sint Maarten. No fewer than six massive cruise ships joined us in port today- three had pulled out ahead of us and were bright features in our view as the sun sank below the horizon. The cruise ships that have been a major feature of our short stay in Philipsburg dwarf the Cramer but I am in no doubt at all which vessel I would rather be on!

As we caught the late afternoon breeze in the sails and picked up speed, I lowered the taffrail log off the port side. Our distance travelled is recorded by this classic simple device- a metal torpedo shaped device with fins that spins as we move through the ocean. The taffrail connects to a dial that sits on the port side rail.  The taffrail log is noted hourly in the ships logbook while we are underway and at 1800 today, we had logged close to 3400 nautical miles!  How far we have all come during this semester and this voyage in terms of skills, knowledge and experience is not so easily logged, but I would bet that if we could convert each of these into miles- collectively between students, faculty, voyagers and professional crew, they would wrap around the globe many times.

As I finish my blog in the library, the port hole above me is occasionally dunked as we gently roll into the swells where dolphins were recently seen as they conjured up bioluminescence as they powered and played in our wake!

Our route towards St. John will first take us to the Saba Bank where we will deploy some scientific equipment and who knows quite what we will discover! I better hurry to my bunk for a nap so I am ready to share in the excitement of deploying and retrieving the neuston net and the Shipek grab sometime before midnight.

It has been a delight to spend time with the enthusiastic, smart and dedicated SEA faculty and crew over the past few months. I look forward to the adventures and experiences we will share over the coming week that will add into the rich and diverse array of memories I’ve stacked up already ashore and on board.

A dose of tropical sunshine will be delivered to all who read this blog - and I wish a Merry Christmas to one and all!

- Clare

Ps. A quick Happy Birthday shout out to my niece, Jenna for Saturday Dec 21st


#1. Posted by roseann velez on December 19, 2014

Dear Missy and Crew,
Enjoy your sailing, and thank you Clare, for a lovely post. I too am glad you are aboard the Corwith Cramer with the dolphins swimming aroun.  Merry Christmas to all and safe travels ahead! Best wishes, and enjoy your sabbitical Clare!

Momma Velez

#2. Posted by Steve Hadik on December 19, 2014

Clare it was a great pleasure for Ann and me to have Becca sail this voyage with you. We met only briefly back in Woods Hole but you recall our friend in common, Christine Curry from St. Georges University and Grenada Goat Dairy Project.  Please recount the experience with Christine when you see her back in Grenada.

Steve Hadik



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