Ready for an adventure with a purpose? Request info »
  • Search SEA Semester, Summer and High School Programs
  • View SEA Semester campus visit calendar
SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer

November 23, 2015

Rocking and Rolling in the Trade Winds

Janet McMahon, C Watch, Sailing Intern

Oceans & Climate

Rolling into the tropics Photo credit: Emma Wightman

19° 28.3’N x 28° 50.9’W


Easterly, Force 5

Sail Plan
Course, Topsail and Main Staysail set and moving us along at 5-6 knots

Souls on Board

Five straight days of sailing in the irrepressible trades.  Being a New Englander, I’m not used to the constancy of the tropics in late fall – blue skies, impossibly blue water, swells and wind always out of the east and at the moment covering our ship with a thin fine layer of red Saharan dust. Our voyage so far has been full of camaraderie, learning, great food, brilliant stars, swells ranging from five feet to the occasional twenty footer, an empty ocean on the surface that teems with life below.  So far we’ve seen a small pod of finbacks, many spotted dolphins, flying fish skipping over the waves like stones, a Portuguese man-o-war, a squid that jumped on board, the cutest little blue and purple nudibranch you ever did see, a nautilus, petrels and shearwaters, and even a little warbler that came to rest for a while on its fall migration to who knows where. 

We are approaching the North Equatorial Current, which will help us on our way as the Canary Current has already done.  So far, we’ve sailed 850 nm and have a little over 2000 to miles to go to Portsmouth, Dominica.  There is a
timeless quality to being all these leagues away from land that I love – we focus on every little detail of our very high maintenance mama Cramer, taking care of each other while we're at it – and that makes the days stretch out and blend together

Here is just a snapshot of a “typical” day at sea.  We rotate through our watches, handling sails, at the helm, on lookout, completing deck logs, lab logs and boat checks, taking sun and star sights, dead reckoning, cleaning below at dawn, swabbing decks, eating three square meals and three snacks a day, washing an endless stream of dishes, getting “on station” for neuston tows, hydrocasts and other sampling, afternoon class with navigation reports, science reports, weather reports, and all the while, everyone works on research and ship maintenance projects.  And then there are the random events of the day which spice things up – the race between the watches to find all the lines on deck, time on the elephant table playing ukulele, watching shooting stars, games of cribbage, squeegee-bucket-sponge shoot (a game that has to do with mung), a conga line around the ship.     

The days leave me tuckered out mentally and physically, and yet somehow invigorated.  The night sky is magical, especially now that the moon is almost full.  I think I love the summer triangle the best, the same trio of stars – Vega, Deneb and Altair – that shine over Maine in the fall.  And to my family, I think of you and wish you well every time a shooting star falls.  To my dear Chris, you are the brightest star in my life.  And I wish you a wonderful birthday Josie, and Sophie, your kindred sailing spirit is here with me, and my love to Papa and Mom, Maya and Anna, Josie and Duncan and everyone in my family near and far.  Happy thanksgiving time to you all. There is so much to be grateful for!

- Janet

Categories: Corwith Cramer,Oceans & Climate, • Topics: c263  sailing • (0) Comments




Add a comment:

Notify me of follow-­up comments?

I would like SEA to keep me informed about news and opportunities.