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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer

February 26, 2016

Sky Appreciation Day

Leah Kaplan, Wellesley College

SEA Semester Caribbean

Sunset sail in the Caribbean!

19° 57.0’ N x 68° 01.2’ W

Description of location
Approaching Navidad Bank

333° True

3 knots

Weather / Wind
Force 2 ESE wind

Souls on Board

The twelfth day of our voyage was backed by beautiful skies over the constant swells of the sea. I was up for the beginning of the sunrise at the closing of dawn watch after spending the hours in the lab learning about pteropods and conducting the midnight Neuston tow. We were also frequently distracted by the increasing depth of the sea floor as we made our way across the Puerto Rico Trench, with the deepest section of our voyage measuring 8187 meters on CHIRP, the ship’s acoustic depth sounder. The day passed by quickly after the post-watch breakfast and subsequent dawn cleanup (luckily my history of communal living has given me a useful competency in cleaning bathrooms) until we all gathered for the afternoon class. After student presentations on science, weather, and navigation, we all split up to meet with an assigned assistant scientist to begin work on our respective oceanography projects. I am part of the marine debris investigative team, and though we started our project on-shore and conducted a beach survey for data on large debris while in San Juan, we got very relevant help from our scientist on how to count micro-plastics in the lab.

The most notable part of this day was the “line chase,” where we all gathered for a relay race regarding the identification of each of the ship’s seemingly infinite amount of lines. The activity was structured helpfully to test our previous studies of the pin rail diagram (which outlined the location and definition of each line) and further our actual understanding of the material. Each watch team lined up on the quarter deck and the three scientists handed an index card with the name of a line on it to the first person in each of the three watch lines. Then, the student from each team would have to go put a hand on the line in question while their teammates could only help direct by saying “hot” or “cold.” The three mates were stationed around the vessel to confirm when the student effectively located the card’s line, and then the student could return to the team and continue the relay process. I definitely appreciated this system when I was presented with a line I vaguely knew the location of because I would circle the general area touching every line in sight until the mate stopped me because I had touched the right one. It was a learning process! When each team finished the cards, they were instructed to do a conga line, because lines can totally be fun in the right context. My team, C watch, came in second
place; we were very proud.

I just got off of my second watch of the day, 1900 to 2300, which began with a sunset and ended with a moonrise. Even though it may seem like a demanding schedule to show up ready to work at various hours of the day, it presents us with opportunities to appreciate our environment, especially the wonderful sky, which we would usually ignore or sleep through. I wish I could spend all my time up on deck watching the various celestial objects rise and set, but my lethargy levels won’t allow for that within this working system. On that note, a shout out to my beloved parents for providing me yet another experience to be grateful for, and good night.

- Leah




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