SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer
February 24, 2016
Probably the Best Day Ever
Making way north, from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic
Description of Location
Going over the Puerto Rico Trench, the deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean
Weather / Wind
Great evening for sailing, Easterly winds, Force 4
Starting off the day, we were awoken at the usual 0600, ready for a day of exploration and departure from San Juan, Puerto Rico. My watch was tasked with cleaning the deck after breakfast, in true sailor fashion. By 0830 we were unleashed onto the streets of Old San Juan, in search of Wi-Fi, postcards, and a decent latte. Finding the latte first at a local shop recommended by our Chief Scientist, Jeff, a group of eight of us carried on towards one of the two old forts, El Morro, hoping to find postcards along the way. Reaching the fort sans post cards, we took in the view by sketching it out in our journals followed by a light addition of watercolors. With a 1200 call back to the boat, it was the perfect amount of time to get our final ice cream from the street vendors, and look for a thrift store, which
we found to be closed. Back at the boat, lunch consumed us, and we prepared to make sail, leaving the states and cell service behind.
After making way, the day could only get better. I'll have you know that the seasickness the third time you go out onto the open ocean is much less of a chore to deal with then the first two. I guess "third time’s the charm" is prevalent even in the maritime world. Standing as lookout I got to avoid the heaving that is involved in lifting the sails, instead I was able to marvel at them as they were raised together. For the greater part of the afternoon my watch was on duty (fine by me as I used it as an excuse to have the salty air in my hair once again), it was smooth sailing at perfect temperatures, occasionally the waves would crash on the deck getting the watches onboard soaked, but all in good fun.
The real sail handling, and the first time I have felt like a true sailor on board, began with furling the jib, taking it down and securing it to the boat. We mounted the bowsprit, over the rocking swells, grabbing the sail in even bites and tying it off with a slippery reef knot. As the watch was about to change, we were needed to reef the main, a process of loosening it, making it a shorter sail, and again tying it off with a reef knot.
During the course of the 45 minutes it took to reef the main, the stars had begun to come out. Not just normal stars, but think of the best planetarium and times it by twenty stars. There was no way R.E.Y.'s children’s book of stars could have prepared me for this. While looking up to the universe in all its glory was spectacular, the ocean had its own light show. There was bioluminescence everywhere; of course I was ecstatic to see this, because in a few hours I will be on lab watch, and bioluminescence is what my oceanography project is on, and now I get to work through the real data!
Though dinner was later than expected it did not disappoint, the salad even had dried cherries, one of my favorites. Next is sleep for a few short hours, with more excitement to come.