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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Corwith Cramer


November 07, 2021

Star Frenzy!

Taylor Hunt, C Watch & Coastal Carolina University

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Above: Allen, Kayla, Captain Allison: Cel Nav Lesson day! Shooting LAN.; Below: Brier, Colin, me: Cel nav nerds debating if what we’re looking at is Altair or Vega; Me shooting Kochab during evening star frenzy.

Position
22º 40.4’ N x 057º 12.1’ W

Ship Heading
250º

Ship Speed
4 knots

Taffrail Log
2437 nm

Weather / Wind
Clear and sunny, northeasterly winds at 8 knots

Description of location
Southern Sargasso Sea, nearing the Tropic of Cancer

Souls on board

Among the many things that we students are learning to do aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, one of my favorite things that I have learned so far is the art of celestial navigation. Although it is not a requirement to learn how to shoot and plot celestial fixes, it is something I have personally found a lot of joy and pleasure in doing.

Celestial navigation is how we are navigating the ship through the Atlantic to get to the Virgin Islands and I want to give all of you a peak into what it is that some of us are doing.

While we are navigating by the sun, moon and stars, we are also plotting dead reckoning positions to follow the celestial fixes. Dead reckoning positions are assumed position based on time, distance and ship heading. This does not account for wind and current so in order to keep us on our cruise track we pull out our sextants and shoot celestial fixes throughout the day. We try to shoot sun sights and Local Apparent Noon (LAN) every day so that we can keep track of our position beyond dead reckoning during the hours in which we cannot shoot the stars.

Twice a day we have something called star frenzy which, during the nautical dawn twilight and during the evening civil twilight. During star frenzy we grab our sextants and aim to shoot 6 stars. We try to shoot at least one star from three quadrants in the sky as well as one low star, one mid and one high in order to get a total of 6 altitudes on the arc (but the more the merrier).

The position at the beginning of the blog post is actually one that I calculated using the stars and planets this evening (Jupiter, Saturn, Vega, Altair, Deneb, Schedar, Fomalhaut). I have to say, did not have much knowledge of stars and constellations before this trip and I certainly to did not expect to get as involved as I have with celestial navigation, but it is now something that is part of my regular routine. I am very thankful to Captain Allison and 2nd Mate Colin for teaching me celestial navigation and helping me enhance my skills. Because of them I’ve found a new hobby and passion for celestial navigation.

- Taylor Hunt, C Watch & Coastal Carolina University

P.S. To my family and friends, blow a tender kiss to Saturn and it will bounce off of the rings like a ricochet biscuit and I’ll catch it with my sextant. I miss you all very much and I will talk to you soon!
P.P.S. Shout out to Anna’s mom and brother who have had recent birthdays. Happy birthday to both of you!
P.P.P.S. Shoutout to my boy LAN nomsayin… course yardy know.

(Written November, 3, 2021)

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Reactions

#1. Posted by Adam Hunt on November 08, 2021

CELNAV is a life-skill! Bravo Zulu (that’s Navy speak for “well done”)!

“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;”
    - John Masefield


#2. Posted by Andrea Hunt on November 08, 2021

How exciting to see my dear Taylor finding such joy in the skills she is learning aboard Corwith Cramer. I am very proud of her for working so hard to have this opportunity. I know it will be a life long memory of joy and life changing realization of the power of nature and union with our seas and mother earth. God’s blessings to everyone of you on this team and thank you for keeping me involved and up to date. Fair winds to all the souls aboard!


#3. Posted by Martin Zickert on November 08, 2021

As a USAF Navigator with over 4500 hours of flying time most of it in KC/RC-135s over the polar ice cap with Russian MIGs on each wing should I stray into Russia or over both the Atlantic or Pacific ocean, I enjoyed your article on celestial navigation.  Daytime navigation relying on DR and Sunline was always a challenge and there was no GPS to help determine wind drift.  Loved night navigator where the stars gave you a very precise position.  Your aunt Kristen gave me you info and I hope you keep up your hobby.  It’s neat to be able to point out all the stars to your kids and friends.


#4. Posted by Terri Smalley on November 08, 2021

We are so excited to hear all about your trip.  We know that you most likely do not want your adventure to end.  We are excited to hear about your adventures and all that you have learned.  See you soon.
Love, Oma and Opa


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